I was recently surprised to learn that only 30% of small businesses use accounting services. Because I’m a strong believer in the value that accountants can create for small business owners, this low number represents a huge opportunity both for small businesses and accountants.
Small businesses will benefit from the guidance and counsel provided by accountants. Accountants will benefit by growing their practices.
I believe accountants are achieving their highest potential when they’re serving not just as a tax preparer or bookkeeper, but as a trusted adviser to their customers.
In addition to providing critical services, accountants should also be consulting with their customers on all legal and strategic questions faced by small business owners.
Here are a few suggestions for ways to do that:
Advise that business and personal finances must be separate.
It can be really easy for small business owners to intertwine their personal and business finances. This is a common and potentially serious mistake. Aside from the potential issue of having your business finances impact your personal life, the lack of organization will end up costing businesses more in accounting services. This will create big issues in the case of an audit, and cause unnecessary confusion.
One of the best pieces of advice that you can offer as an accountant is to keep personal and business finances separate. Offering this one recommendation is one of the best ways accountants can help small business owners. It may be easier for a small business owner to aggregate transactions in the short term. However, they will surely thank you in the long run.
Recommend digital small business banking.
Business banking accounts are a great way to have all business dealings in one place, easily accessible from anywhere. By using a digital small business bank, owners can easily keep their finances in a user-friendly snapshot on their phones.
These types of accounts can also make it easier for accountants by allowing view access to transactions and overviews like NorthOne.
Provide insights on securing a loan.
Securing loans can be a complicated process if you haven’t gone through it before. As an accountant in an advisory role, you can provide loan expertise that will help the business secure vital capital.
A lot of small business founders are simply individuals with very little financial experience. Being a trusted advisor for things like loans will make you indispensable.
One of the ways that accountants can help small business owners is by providing insight on the loan approval process.
Discuss growth opportunities.
As an accountant, you have the opportunity to see hundreds of small businesses succeed – or fail. Consider wrapping up all that knowledge and proactively helping clients think about the best strategies for their growth. These can include expansion, cost-cutting initiatives, and capital alternatives.
You can also consider offering financial metrics that reveal how each business line or service is performing. This will provide clues as to where future endeavors will be best directed.
As an accountant, you will have come across many different types of businesses. You will be able to see what has worked, and what has not. Providing clients with this insight is one of the best ways accountants can help small business owners.
Provide marketing recommendations where appropriate.
Marketing and advertising can be expensive. While you are an accountant, providing advice on where and when to allocate budget to digital marketing and advertising can be helpful to your small business clients.
You can share what you have seen clients successfully do in the past and provide a perspective when possible. Being knowledgeable about relevant areas outside of accounting will help you become a holistic advisor and drive home your value.
Offer to do your business client’s personal taxes as well.
If you are not already doing the personal taxes for your small business clients, it could be a great opportunity to upsell and give them a fair price.
Not only is this helpful for your client but it gives you a broad perspective into where they stand and the risks they should or should not take. Will and estate planning is another service line you can offer.
One of the best ways that accountants can help small business owners is by offering to do their personal tax returns as well.
Organize for tax season all year.
On top of day-to-day work, it’s easy for small business owners to let tax activities fall to the wayside. A proactive accountant who makes sure that everything is up to date and ready for tax season is invaluable.
Make sure to organize by month or quarter and ensure that the correct amount of money is being set aside so that there is no crunch, confusion, or lack of funds when the new year comes.
Set up a succession plan.
While this may be a difficult conversation to have, discussing succession planning is one of the ways accountants can help small business owners.
Regardless of if your clients are immediately ready to retire, sell or pass down their business, it can be a great idea to begin thinking about the succession plan. The least you can help out with is by putting a draft in place.
Almost 50 percent of family businesses have no succession plan in place. If the passing of the guard is unexpected, the process can be extremely difficult.
Depending on where your client is in business ownership, think about looping the successor into financial conversations. This will help facilitate the process when the time arrives.
Ways Accountants Can Help Small Business Owners – Summary
There are many different ways that accountants can help small business owners. As an accountant, you have a wealth of knowledge that you can share with your clients.
The above are just a few of the ways an accountant can become an invaluable strategic advisor to small business owners. Remember to use your experience to become an invaluable part of your small business clients’ financial plan.
I encourage you to apply these as well as others as you seek to grow your practice!
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