Business Insight: Add accountant to your team and reap the benefits
Article written by Liz McLardy, accounting lecturer in the School of Business and Tourism, Southern Cross University.
Most business owners only think about their accountant at tax time. However the right accountant is a dynamic and strategic adviser who can benefit you and your business all year round.
Gone are the days where accountants were mere bean counters and compliance officers. Today's entrepreneurs are turning to qualified small business accountants to help drive business success.
Here are three ways you can ensure that you get the most out of your accountant:
1. See your accountant as your CFO – take the time to shortlist and interview at least three accountants before making your final decision. Imagine them as your CFO and make sure their experience, expertise and personality all align with your business goals, culture and values.
Remember to see yourself as the CEO and to ask each shortlisted accountant to respond to an example scenario/challenge your business is currently facing so you can compare their approaches.
Consider both their accounting and business acumen. Is this someone you would feel comfortable establishing an ongoing professional relationship with and feel comfortable sharing detailed information about your business?
2. See them as a trusted adviser – share your strategic aspirations with your accountant and be open to them assisting you even if it challenges you or makes you consider a different approach.
One of the most important roles accountants should play is by providing meaningful information to business owners to assist them in making effective decisions such as evaluating profitability, modify prices, monitoring expenses, tracking a budget and spotting trends.
Their integrated and unique understanding of your business and its operating environment will give you valuable analysis about your business and more importantly what to do with that information - which off-the-shelf accounting software cannot do.
Numbers really do tell a story and with the right accountant you can get insights that can deliver benefits throughout your business.
3. See them as a systems simplifier - While it makes sense for many business owners to manage their day-to-day records, an accountant can help you to set up bookkeeping and accounting systems and show you how to use them.
One of biggest benefits of having a simplified system is that it frees you up to focus on your businesses priorities that move you towards your strategic aspirations whether it be driving sales, servicing clients or managing staff.
Remember an effective accountant goes beyond number-crunching and reporting on financial outcomes - they can also provide recommendations about what to do with the information and how to best move forward.
This article originally appeared in the Business Insight section of the Gold Coast Bulletin newspaper and is for general information purposes only.