An accountant, or a competent bookkeeper for that matter (if you select the right firm 🙂 ) is much more than just someone who helps you with the numbers. They can and should be a critical business advisor, sounding board and resource to help your business grow sales, monitor expenses and maximize profits.
They should be able to give you advice and direction on important business decisions, help you work your way out of tough spots and identify areas of greatest opportunity.
If they aren’t doing that then you are not getting your money’s worth and if they can’t do that then you definitely need to look for a new firm. If you aren’t asking for it then you are missing a great resource and if you don’t want it then chances are you aren’t reading business blogs either so you’ll never see this advice (or any other) anyway!
Only twice in the history of my business have I been truly terrified. Both times, it was my accountant — yes, you read that right — who jolted me back to business.
In 2004 I survived what I refer to as my one and only (I hope) divorce. It was with my business partner, not my husband. It was still plenty traumatic. And that’s when I discovered my partner left me with a financial nightmare.
I thought about walking away and starting over when a friend recommended an accountant at a large local firm. I thought a big firm was overkill for my small business, but I immediately bonded with the accountant. She told me with absolute certainty the broken parts of my business were fixable and I darn well had to do this because I had created something special.
Then she quickly set up the accounting so I had clear insight into our finances. She created checks and balances to maintain security and accountability. Then she kicked my shell-shocked butt back to doing what I did best: reaching out to clients and keeping our team focused. Within one year we had recouped the cost of the partner buyout. We were back.
Four years later, in 2009, the U.S. economy took a dive and the tech sector, which makes up most of our clientele, was hit particularly hard. We survived the year with a temporary 10 percent across-the-board salary reduction. In 2010, we slowly regained momentum.
Last year, with things looking up again, Tammy asked my vice president and I this question: “So, what do you want for yourself and the company now?”
I didn’t know. Just grateful to still be here, I thought. Salaries were restored and I was taking a small draw again. My vice-president and I were both unable to answer the question with any conviction.
Tammy went off on us. “Well, if you don’t want more for yourself and the company, I have serious concerns about this management team!” she said. I’d never seen her like this. I tried to explain how happy I was the glass was no longer empty, but it was no use. We all left frustrated and emotional.
This year, my company grew 73 percent over 2010 and 193 percent over 2009—with the same number of employees. Tammy does not tell me what to do, but she knows exactly which buttons to push to fire me up and achieve our true potential.
Every business owner needs a swift kick in the pants once in a while.