3 Questions Every Small Business Should Ask Their Accountant

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accountantYou need help managing your small business finances. You need a professional partner who understands small businesses and can offer you strategic financial advice, help you to manage growth, ensure you’re in compliance, uncover potential business issues, and keep you on track. You need a strategic financial partner who is in close contact, asking questions and ensuring that they understand your business intimately.

If you haven’t already had the following discussions with your small business accountant, it’s time to ask the following. And really, if this is the first time you’re talking about these things with your accountant, that’s a serious problem. And if your accountant can’t answer these questions, it’s time to hire a new accountant, part-time CFO, and/or tax specialist. Period.

1. How can I improve the financial health of my company?

At its heart, this question is all about cash flow. With the help of your accountant, you should be proactively monitoring your cash flow, finding ways to increase your cash flow and reduce costs. Understanding your cash burn is a foundational financial exercise—without a deep understanding of your cash burn, you’re setting yourself up for trouble. Your finance professional should support you with day-to-day budgeting to lower your cash flow, helping you refine your accounts receivable and accounts payable systems, and maximizing your pricing strategy—to name just a few tasks that greatly impact your cash flow.

2. How can I minimize my income tax burden?

Your finance partner needs to be on top of new tax laws and credits to help you to maximize your finances. With the proper tax planning, your company can greatly benefit from tax write-offs. Of equal importance, with the right support, your company can be assured that you are meeting all of your tax obligations, thereby avoiding an unwanted IRS audit due to compliance issues. Your tax accountant should be able to have an informed conversation with you about all the options available to you to save on taxes and protect your business.

3. How can I support—and finance—company growth?

Your finance professional should understand your goals for growth and help you to work towards achieving these goals. A good accountant or CFO will help you to identify when you’re ready to scale—and when you’re not. In order to scale, you need to set milestones and establish your budget for these milestones. These milestones become a tool for you to seek funding, if necessary, whether that comes in the form of VC capital, a bank loan. an AR line of credit, or another source. Your finance professional is key in working with you to understand your milestones and to help you (through financial forecasting and planning) to set your path for achieving these milestones.

In addition, your finance professional should have connections to other business partners who can help—banking partners, VC firms, etc.—and be proactive about making introductions for your business. And your accountant should provide the GAAP-compliant financial statements and other financial documentation you need to submit as part of the due diligence process.

Small businesses often don’t have the internal resources to expertly manage their finances. A more efficient and cost-effective solution is to outsource the finance function to experienced professionals who understand small businesses.

What questions do you want to ask your accountant? Tell us about it in comments below |Images via Shutterstock

David Ehrenberg

David Ehrenberg is the founder and CEO of Early Growth Financial Services (EGFS), a financial services firm that serves companies at every stage of the development process by providing a complete suite of outsourced financial services including accounting, financial strategy, taxes, and corporate governance support. David is a financial expert and startup mentor whose passion is helping businesses to focus on what they do best.

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