There are tens of thousands professional accountants in Canada, and many of them claim that they serve the needs of small business owners. Needless to say, they are smart, educated and have their designations. At the same time, probably 95% of those accountants have never been in business themselves. During the initial interview they will bore you to death telling you about “financial strategy development, performance indicators and financial information analysis, environmental safety assessments, computer system audits and corporate restructuring”. Are you impressed? We are not…because this is a complete BS (we mean, of course, Business Solutions).
Ready for a little secret? Here you go…entrepreneurs don’t care how smart their accountant is, how many years he spent in a university, or how big his downtown office is.
Entrepreneurs need to make money, and the only question they want to ask their accountant is “can you help me do that?” The math is simple: let’s say your business makes $100 in net income. If you hire an accountant, would this number rise to $120 or $140, or would it drop below $100 because now you have to pay your accountant?
Good accountant is an ASSET to your business, not an expense. Just stop here for a moment, and think about it. Now, every one of them has his own set of rules and principles, limits and restrictions, strategies and tactics. And as a small business owner you better understand all this stuff before bringing your papers into his office.
So how do we make our clients happy? Below are 4 steps that we would normally follow when dealing with small business owners. This practice has been developed over years and it works…both for us and our clients.
Step 1 Initial interview
Before we accept you as a client we want to talk to you. Actually, you will talk, and we will listen – and ask questions. This is a very important step; at this stage we will try to learn as much as possible about you and your business. Needless to say, everything is confidential. We need this information in order to understand who we are dealing with, and whether we will be able to help you. We are always willing to work with honest, reliable and smart entrepreneurs. At the same time, some people will not pass this simple test. Smart people advise accountants to “beware reckless engagements”. Political correctness aside, we do not work with jerks…sorry.
Step 2 Discussions and setting up the System
Now that we understand each other and see that we can work together, we need to set up the System. From our experience, most small business owners need some training on such issues as record keeping and tax minimization strategies. During this step our roles normally change – we talk, and our clients listen. We will advise them on how to set up an effective (and audit-proof) bookkeeping system, discuss with them different tax minimization strategies and talk about other business issues. Even if an entrepreneur does not want to hear about bookkeeping or any other paperwork, we will explain to our client what type of information we need, and how often we want to gather it from him.
Step 3 Monitoring the progress and doing paperwork
Depending on the nature and the size of your business we periodically keep in touch and monitor your progress. We need to make sure that all strategies and principles we had talked about are being put into action. We do appreciate your feedback…actually, we love it when our client periodically calls us and asks questions – which normally means that he accepted us as a part of his team. At this stage we do most of the clients’ bookkeeping and help entrepreneurs solve different business problems.
Step 4 Preparing financial statements and tax returns
Now, we are almost there; we look at the whole financial picture and make adjusting entries at the year end. These are necessary to better match the revenues and expenses that occurred during the fiscal year. There are also year-end tax strategies for small businesses which we explain to our clients. After we finish preparing your financial statements and tax returns we meet with you to make sure we haven’t missed anything.
And there you go…after we get your approval we send your tax returns to the CRA.
If all those four steps are properly followed, our clients would better understand their own business, have more time to focus on developing it and feel relaxed.