Finding the Best Accounts Support for Your Business
A quick glance at your calendar will tell you that it is just over a week until the end of financial year (gulp!). It’s about now that small business owners will madly scramble about digging receipts out of shoeboxes, start chasing invoices that have been outstanding for three months, send those payments off to the supa fund… it would be comical if it wasn’t frighteningly true!
Unlike having 1000 people following your gorgeously curated Instagram feed, having your finances in order is essential to business survival. User-friendly programs such as Xero and MYOB are designed for non-financially savvy business owners but you are only one person and there is a limit to your time, resources and financial knowledge.
Now is an ideal time to consider engaging the services of a professional to help manage your accounts as your business grows.
No idea where to start? Here are some things to keep top of mind when you are engaging a professional to manage your accounts:
- Be clear of what you need help with – Do you need an accountant or a bookkeeper? What is the difference between the two? Do you have the expertise within your business to take care of some aspects of accounts management (eg tracking expenses, invoicing, payroll) or do you need to find someone to take care of the everything? Write a list of all the finance-related tasks you need help with, as this will determine the type of service provider you should be working with.
- Get recommendations – got some business buddies who seriously have their lives in order? Chances are there is an amazing accountant or bookkeeper behind them. Ask them who they use.
- Industry expertise – you want someone who is not only a whizz with numbers but you should talk to someone who is experienced working with businesses in your industry.
- Shop around – you don’t need to go with the first person you meet (even if they are your brother’s best mate’s wife). It is perfectly normal to meet with a number of service providers until you find the right fit. You are looking for a long-term partner and it is a lot of effort to start all over again with someone else if you get it wrong the first time.
- Ask them for Referees - ask for names of existing clients and speak to them (just because a company’s logo appears on someone’s website doesn’t mean they have actually done any work for them!). Ask the referee how long they have been working together, what the experience of working with them is like - how they communicate, response times to queries, do they met deadlines, have they had a positive impact on their business.
- Ask about turn-around times and deadlines and make sure they have the capacity to help you – great service providers are often super busy. If you speak with a one-man band that has dozens of clients then you need to be assured they are going to be able to accommodate your needs as well, even if they do come highly recommended. Beware working with a friend who will do your accounts “as a favour” or “on the side” from their day job. I have seen these types of arrangements end badly because the business owner is always too scared to bother them.
- Communication - What is their preferred method of communication – email or phone? What are their response times? Do they spell out what is needed from you at certain times of the year in order for them to do their job (checklists, etc)? Do they remind you when things like the BAS or the payroll tax are due?
- Ask questions – you are not meant to understand everything they talk about. You are an expert in your field as they are in theirs. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification on anything that is confusing you, that’s what you are paying for – their expertise.
- Feel the love – you want to work with someone who “gets” you, someone trustworthy who has a genuine desire to see your business do well. If you find them intimidating or they make you feel bad about yourself or your business practices walk away.
- Be open to improvements – remember that these guys are the experts so they may immediately see more efficient ways you could be managing your accounts. Be willing to take their advice on board. However you shouldn’t be railroaded into making massive, time consuming changes for the sake of making their life easier. For example, if you have all your accounts set up in Xero you shouldn’t be forced to change to MYOB just because that’s what they use.
Having someone amazing to take care of your accounts is a life changer. Once you have a clear understanding of your numbers you will feel more confident about making business decisions and your ability to take your business to the next level.
Good luck and as always if you need any help or advice on engaging the services of experts to grow your business, contact me today.