Do I need an accountant

Do I need an accountant?

“Someone who is trained in solving complex problems that you didn’t know you had in a way that you don’t understand”
Also see: magician, wizard

Jokes aside… accountants are not just for the large and established companies. Accountants can jump in and help out at various stages of your business, from how to make the idea a reality, from the start-up, to the first growth phase, to the maintenance and then into expansion and new ventures. A good accounting partner is not just there for the usual payroll and tax requirements, they can handle much more than just the historical number crunching. So the question is… why do I need an accountant and when should I consider getting one?

As an entrepreneur with a budding idea or as a small business owner, you are going to face many challenges at the various stages of your enterprise’s growth. From that first initial business plan, to deciding how you should trade (company, sole proprietor etc.). A professional accountant can ease the stress and make your life easier at each step.

A scary statistic for start up’s or small enterprises is that most will fail within the first eighteen to twenty four months and often a major contributing factor is poor financial management. Often many business owners go at it alone when it comes to maintaining their books and managing their finances. While we can never conclude that these businesses are worse off for not having an accountant, I cannot emphasize more not to underestimate the amplitude of experience, knowledge and advice that a professional accountant can provide. Also, your business requires your full attention from an operations perspective to get off the ground and when your time and attention is pulled away from this to cover elements such as bookkeeping, accounting and taxation that you may not necessarily be comfortable with, you are sacrificing potential growth through loss of time and attention to what you do best… running your business.

What does this mean to me?

Let’s think of a handy analogy… would you service your car at home? Most people, unless you are a mechanic by trade, would take them to a professional mechanic to keep their car running smoothly and to spot any potential issues. Your small business just needs the same attention from a professional to jump in and keep things running smoothly, provide the right information to you and to spot and prepare for any issues heading your way.

As an entrepreneur or small business owner, your greatest concern when making the decision to hire an accountant is probably the cost. You are looking to save money and may think that you cannot afford an accountant. When I am posed with this question, I often fall back to what I mentioned above. Is your time as a business owner best served trying to figure out, lets say… a VAT return? This may take you hours to do and run the risk of having made errors (you are a multi-tasking business owner). Or is it getting out there and securing new business or tackling your operations? An accountant can take care of these time consuming tasks as they have the expertise, it’s what they do! From a cost perspective, they are likely to do it faster and more efficiently and when you look at what your own time is worth and what you want to pay yourself, it is likely going to be cheaper than allocating your own cost per hour to the task. Having an accountant take care of this for you will provide you with the extra time that your business needs for you to source and generate revenue but also provide you with peace of mind that an expert and professional is taking care of the details.

Depending on what stage your business is at, you may not need to employ an accountant full-time. Often, there are options such as hiring an accountant for a few hours when and if needed or keeping a professional accountant on retainer (set hours every month) to cover routine items such as bookkeeping and to be available for other items such as preparing management accounts for that loan application to get your new equipment.

Am I ready for an accountant?

As a business owner it may feel daunting to delegate to an outsider and to allow an outsider in on the details of how your business is run, especially if you have experienced difficulties with managing your finances in the past. However, partnering with an accounting professional will actually help you in achieving your vision, goals and assist in setting you up for success and continuity. I’m not saying an accountant can wave a magic wand however they can step in and provide valuable advise on your business from an operations, admin and finance perspective which can assist you as the business owner with making decisions on the next steps to take for your business. The question is… are you ready to delegate this task to an accounting professional? As a small business owner, you are used to being in control and multitasking across the broad range of needs that your business has. You set your own working hours, you carefully construct your business strategy and regulate your work load (yes even those pulling the 20 hour work days). What I often hear from business owners is that ‘nobody will know the business like I do’ and yes, this could be true, however they can bring a fresh perspective from a professional backing within their area of expertise. A professional accountant, more often than not will have experience across a broad range of industries (unless specializing) and a good business acumen. They will know how to bring the numbers to life in the sense of providing the right information about your business to you, on which you can make those decisions that only you know how to do.

Delegating your company’s financial affairs to an accountant can seem daunting however once you have chosen the right accountant and trust them with your business’s financial information, then you can focus on the fact that you have handed over the finances to someone more experienced in accountancy than you, and you will have more time to concentrate on other aspects of your business.

Here are the some of the top reasons why you should hire an accountant:

1. Save time, energy and your soundness of mind!

As a business owner, your focus should be on running your business. Hiring an accountant is an investment in maintaining your focus and keeping you on the path toward your business goals not drowning in invoices and receipts every month end,.

2. Make real time decisions

Are you considering making that big purchase? Are you considering hiring a new employee? Or perhaps you are considering launching a new product/service offering? Having a professional accountant whom can also act as an advisor can assist you with assessing the consequences and implications of these decisions in real time. They will assist with elements such as your budgeting for these decisions, cash flow requirements and monitoring thereof and will allow you to navigate any hurdles or make business decisions in real time. In partnering with you and your business, your professional accountant and you as the business owner should adopt a collaborative approach which will allow you to make decisions together based on the financial and other business data. This will allow you as the business owner to take advantage of a consultative/advisory relationship that will help you make business decisions when they need to be made and allow you to never miss an opportunity due to not knowing where your business stands from a financial perspective.

3. Map out and plan your future

I would say that one of the top benefits of hiring/appointing/engaging with a professional accountant is getting advice on how to plan for the future of your business. Together, you are able to pull historical reports, examine the sustainability, seasonality and analyze and project these into future expectations. In doing so, it can help determine the best time to make purchases, big investments or to offer certain products/service offerings and in doing so helping you stay competitive and viable as a business.

We can often get so lost in the day-to-day running of the business that we forget to take stock and see the big picture. An accountant is often able to objectively look at the big picture and find the best way to support the business to achieve it’s “big plan” and map out a financial blueprint (that will often be adjusted) in order to get there.

Partnering with a professional accountant, no matter the stage of your business, who has the skill, experience and expertise to guide you through the journey of owning your own business, will assist in setting you up for lasting success.