Blog: How to Choose the Right Accountant for Your Business

Whether you are a new business or have been around a while, all businesses need accounting at some point. While hiring an accountant isn’t mandatory, having one can be a great benefit for your business. Whether its regular bookkeeping, taxes, consulting, or planning, an accountant can be an invaluable resource. Finding a reliable and credible accountant can sometimes be the difference between success and failure; an accountant’s insight and expertise can help provide much needed guidance as your business grows. Accountants many times can be like snowflakes: unique in each one’s approach, using different tools, and sometimes even cold to the touch! How do you find one that is a good fit for you and your business? Here are some things to consider when choosing a good accountant for your small business.

What will the accountant do?

The first step is to decide what your accountant will be doing for you. Will they only be doing the tax return, or will they also be providing you with monthly bookkeeping services and generating financials? Will they be doing analysis and incorporating key performance indicators (KPI’s)? What software do they use? Do they use apps to help make accounting processes more efficient? Do you do you own books and need them to be reviewed periodically? We always suggest handling both the bookkeeping as well as the tax functions for our clients. Doing both gives us (the accountants) a more well-rounded perspective of the business and while we are doing financials may encounter opportunities that can help during tax time, which allows for regular tax planning, rather than be handed a profit and loss statement and a balance sheet and be directed to “work miracles!” without spending any time with the financials throughout the year. It also ensures that the financials are accurate when we are working on taxes. We have had some business owners claim that they are quite capable of handling the books throughout the year. When we get the financials at tax time there are negative expenses and have six different subaccounts for meals and entertainment! If your business is making widgets, it’s safe to say you didn’t start your business to do books. A trusted accountant should be involved with the business on a regular basis. They can provide ways to run the business more efficiently and find strategies to increase the business’ bottom line.

What are your goals?

When we meet with prospective clients, this is one of the first questions that we ask. More than anything, the ability of an accountant to listen to their clients is just as important as what they say to their clients. This holds true from the first initial meeting all the way to the rest of the relationship with the business. An accountant shouldn’t be selling just to secure the client but should listen for what the client is asking for and try to address those needs and concerns. For our part, we try to address the goals of the client while also still providing options of different services that might help to meet and accomplish those goals. As a business owner, make sure you’re getting the services to better run your business, but not services you don’t want or need.

Accountants are also teachers

Aside from maintaining the financials, preparing tax returns, and providing financial guidance for a business to succeed, another part of an accountant’s job is to educate clients. This holds especially true for small business clients. An accountant can teach a client how to setup a new business, the best entity for taxes, how to get started on the rights foot, how to run more efficiently, how to track and reduce expenses, how to be more profitable, etc. We have even given advice on ways to market a business and get more customers. So it goes without saying (even though we are kinda saying it!) that it’s important to have someone that will take the time to educate their clients. An accountant should be a resource for a client on areas that they are unclear on. Having this benefit helps to make them a better business and increase their chance of success as well as the odds that they will remain a long-term client!

What about cost?

As with any business expense, cost is usually one of the chief considerations. Many accountants in recent years attempt to sell their services based on “value”, but that can be very subjective. What I value and what you value may be two entirely different things. Pricing on value suggests that the client is receiving more in services that their actual cost if priced separately. However, if there are things in those packages that aren’t needed or wanted, how valuable is it?

Others charge by the hour. In the accounting industry, this is becoming less and less common. The cost is tied to time, so there is an advantage to the client if the accountant can work quickly on what they are working on (how much time they are spending). The downside for the client is that the accountant is incentivized to spend as much time working on a particular client to maximize the fee to the client.

Our pricing is tied to two factors: annual revenue and entity type. Entity is a consideration, because providing accounting services to a business that is a sole proprietor is more often less work than doing a corporation or a partnership, for example. Our firm specializes in small businesses that generate between $0-500k revenue (though we do bigger clients as well). We have found that gross revenue is a consistent metric to measure the accounting activity. We have 4 different level of pricing based on specific levels of revenue. This is because providing accounting services for a business that makes 300k a year will more than likely take more work than a business that makes 75k per year. We keep our costs low by offering core accounting/bookkeeping services and if a client wants anything beyond that, they have that option to upgrade to it. And with accounting packages starting at $90/month, we feel that it’s affordable for any business to afford, regardless of size. Additionally, we do not force our clients into services they do not want or need, and they have the ultimate control over what is provided.

We recommend that you shop around. Look at websites of different firms to see if they have pricing listed (We do!). Get a sample of what each firm offers and what they charge for those services. Please note that the cheapest isn’t always the best route. Likewise, the most expensive isn’t always the best either. Try to find a balance of cost and what the firm will do to help your business.

What do other clients say about them?

One of the best ways to find if an account could possibly be the right one is to see what other clients have said about them. Start with Google. Do they have a good amount of reviews? Do they have a website? Does it look like it would be a good fit for your business? Also look at Facebook, Yelp, and the QuickBooks find a Proadvisor website. What do they say about their values, their relationship with clients, and how personable they are and what they do for their clients. Most accountants offer a free consultation in which you can further go over your situation and what you’re looking for. Ask questions! What industries do they serve? Ask if they provide client referrals. Sometimes clients are willing to speak to other potentials to share their experience.

Please see our pricing at www.infinityaccounting.com/pricing

QuickBooks also has a resource of their accountants at https://quickbooks.intuit.com/find-an-accountant/

Blog: Why is a Business Bank Account Important?

Why is a Business Bank Account Important?

In our first post, we suggested that one of the things that you should do when you decide to open a new business to get a business bank account. While this would be the ideal situation, it is not always the case and clients sometimes ask the reason to get a dedicated business account, not knowing if the business will be successful. Not only is it recommended, but important to have a separate account for your business.

Separate personal and business accounts to be organized

Being successful and organized sometimes go hand in hand. Having a separate business account makes it much easier to stay organized and allows the business to run much more efficiently. A business needs to track what is coming in (revenues) vs what is going out (expenses). This can more made more difficult with personal transactions also in the mix (was that Krispy Crème business or personal?). Not to mention how much easier it is getting information ready for taxes at the end of the year.

It makes your accountant’s life easier

When a client comes to me using a personal account for their business, I groan on the inside a little. Okay, a lot! Not having a dedicated account for business really complicates how the accounting is done. First, there is no way to truly reconcile the bank account, since all the of the personal expenses would have to be classified as Owners draw/distribution. This is not reality. Instead, accountants have to make monthly journal entries to push these expenses into the accounting system. The same holds true for revenue. Revenue received is classified as revenue but also counted as a draw. This is because the revenue was received but immediately drawn out since there is no business bank account. For those that use cloud accounting software, especially QuickBooks Online (QBO), it takes away the features that make these tools so powerful and, in some cases, force us to do…gasp…data entry! It puts limits on the accounting system.

Accurately tracking cash flow

The ability to properly manage cash flow is vital for any business, and a separate account makes it much easier to assess how the business is performing. Identifying revenue, expenses, and profit is key. Accessing this information quickly can provide a business data on whether the business is meeting its goals or whether adjustments are required. Many key performance indicators (KPI’s) are calculated using these having a separate account helps to ensure the accuracy of data.

Protect the corporate veil

Setting up an LLC for a business protects the owners’ personal assets in the case that the business faces legal issues. Keeping and maintaining separate financials between business and personal keep these protections in place. However, if you do not separate business and personal finances, you can open yourself up to the possibility of being personal liable for business obligations should an issue arise.

Professionalism

They say you should dress for success. In the business world, appearances can make a difference. Regardless of your industry or where you operate, setting up a business account can lend greater credibility to your business, especially when you’re first starting out. If you’re paying vendors with personal checks or unable to accept credit cards because you don’t have a business account, it doesn’t leave a good impression with customers and colleagues.

Getting loans and outside funding

A separate account is also best for when you need a loan. Most institutions require that a business have a separate bank account to qualify for a loan. In addition, having a business account helps a business’ credit rating and worthiness. Using the business debit card on a regular basis creates a credit history for the business, improving their chances of obtaining funding.

Blog: Should I Hire an Accountant?

Should I Hire an Accountant?

Now that your business has started, you have your entity chosen, as well as your EIN number and have a business bank account; it’s time to really get into gear. Assuming you are earning revenues and have monthly expenses coming in, you have a lot going on! What about the business’ books? Are you going to handle them, or hire an accountant who can help to manage your financials? So, should you hire an account, and if so, when is an ideal time to hand the financials off to an expert?

Unless you have a fundamental understanding of how accounting works and have a basic understanding of debits and credits, as well as how transactions flow onto financial statements, it’s recommended you seek the services of an accountant to manage the financials of the business, as well as to seek advice as you and your business encounter different situations.

The sooner the better!

Obviously, we are biased here (because, you know…we’re accountants). However, if you are going to start right, we always suggest at least getting the advice of an accountant about your business: what you do, your goals, and suggestions for how you can start on the right foot. It is said that about 20 percent of small businesses will fail within the first 12 months of opening their doors. Of those that do make it, 50 percent will not last five years. The main reasons for these failures are financial: poor cash flow and cash management, debt, and low revenue. Those businesses that seek out accountants increase their odds of success by 89 percent! To avoid these pitfalls, accounting is crucial. If you aren’t either doing your financials or having someone else do them, you may be missing opportunities to use accounting data to grow your business, identify trends, and look for ways to cut your expenses, to name a few. It’s also important to start off with good financial habits, and a good accountant can help with keeping a business on schedule with keeping financials up to date.

More than Forms

Many current accounting software applications are touted as being user-friendly that anyone can use. While this in itself may be true, accounting is more than entering numbers and assigning accounts. It may seem fairly simple initially, but it can become complex rather quickly. Will you have loans? Equity transactions? Are you tracking fixed assets and depreciation? Do you have payroll? How will you log these transactions into the accounting system? We don’t mean to say that you can’t do these things. The point here is to trust those who do it best to do what they do. We’re accountants. If you see us trying to wire our electricity or fix our transmission, please snatch the tools from us and call for help!

In addition to just managing the financials, you may also be interested in taking this data and measuring key metrics, such as cost per customer, expenses relative to revenue, cash flow, and accounts receivable turnover, to name a few. Accountants can take this information to help identify trends and help you to operate your business smarter and more efficiently.

How valuable is your time?

Once you get going, you’re going to be wearing a lot of hats: productions/operations, marketing, payroll, accounting, etc. There is going to come a time, and it may be sooner than later which you need to pass these duties off and focus on operating and managing the business. We didn’t get into business to clean our office, just as you most likely didn’t start your business so you can work on your books (unless you’re an accountant!). We always ask our potential and current clients, “How valuable is your time?” Do you want to run the business or do the books?

Sometimes it’s daunting to leave something so sensitive with a person or a company that you feel doesn’t know what it’s like to do what you do or your business as well as you. As a business owner myself, I understand the resistance there. Keep in mind that we have made it our business to help new and existing businesses manage their financials and offer guidance and support to help that business succeed. Once you are a client, we have an interest in seeing your business prosper and do well!

Is your company growing?

It’s hard to predict and determine how and when a company is going to grow and how quickly. One big customer might mean you need to hire more help and expand more quickly than you thought. Growing quickly might also mean certain things get put off. Before you know it you are a couple months behind on doing the financials and having issues managing cash flow.
As mentioned before, accountants can help manage the monthly finances and keep the business on track, as well as providing advice for growth. Should you lease or buy equipment? Should you hire more? Should you move into a larger space? Are your margins correct? Is your pricing putting you in a position to be the most profitable? We utilize tools and analysis to give clarity and answers to these issues. We pour over the details (payroll, taxes, expenses, cash flow), so you can focus on your goals and the big picture.

Are you writing a business plan?

Even if you haven’t officially started yet, it still may be beneficial to involve an accountant. If you’re still writing your business plan, an accountant can use software to incorporate financial projections as well as other reports, sometimes based on specific industries. This will make your business plan more professional, realistic, and in position to be better executed successfully. You can benefit from accountants knowledge and the resources they can provide in the process. This can provide you an advantage in avoiding mistakes new businesses sometimes make and can save money rather than having to hire one later.

Are you buying or selling a business?

Instead of starting and building a business, are you looking at the possibility of purchasing and taking over an existing one? You should definitely seek out an accountant before the purchase. They can dig into the financials of the business to determine if they look correct and whether the value of the business is appropriate. They can look at the revenues to determine if that is a realistic number for the type and size of business. They can also look at the assets and liabilities on the balance sheet to ensure the company’s debt is not too high or if there are issues with overvaluation of assets. They can work with your attorney to give you piece of mind.

It’s important to discuss any idea of selling your business to an accountant when you have an idea of when you want to consider selling. This helps to establish goals to maximize the profit from the sale. They can provide an idea of what the financials should look like to look attractive to potential buyers and get the most value and work with you to accomplish that goal. Accountants can also be instrumental during the sale, helping to structure the purchase that is the most favorable from a tax perspective, such as stretching payments over a number of years vs. a lump sum payment.

Are you applying for a business loan?

If you are applying for a loan for the business, banks are seeking assurances that borrowers are credit-worthy and that they will get the money back that they lend. An accountant can greatly improve your chances of getting the funding. Accountants know what banks are looking for in terms of financials and can work with you to establish goals in order to put you in the best position to get approved. Your accountant can provide more accurate projections and lend more credibility to the potential borrower. They can help you decide what type of loan to apply for, as well as recommend banks and lenders that have a increased chance of being approved for as well as more favorable terms once approved.

If you aren’t approved for a loan, oftentimes banks will suggest for the business owner to seek out an accountant or even recommend specific ones that can help them with their financials and clean up their financials and put them in a better position to be approved in the future. Though this helps, it’s always ideal to seek out help before applying and avoiding rejection.

With all these reasons to hire an accountant, Why NOT hire one is the better question!

Blog: I Started a Business…..Now What!?

It’s always inspiring hearing from a new business owner. They have a unique product or service, a new way of doing things that will not only be a benefit to others, but to themselves to gain independence and provide a livelihood. So now that you have that idea of what you will offer what will you do with it? How will you execute it? The goal of this blog is to start from the ground up: from beginning of launch to the basics. We’re assuming we are speaking to new owners who know nothing of accounting and will cover the basics: debits and credits, accounting systems, payroll, taxes, among others. Once we have laid a foundation we will grow more complex, adding layers and sophistication, while also adding some topical blogs here and there. We hope you learn and come here as a resource!

The beginning is a good place to start

When starting a business, whether it be a product or service one of the first things to decide is how your business will be structured. Will it be just you? Do you have a partner or partners? Will you incorporate? These are important things to think about. There are 4 major types of entities we will go over: Sole proprietor, partnership, limited liability company, and corporation.

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship (also called SP) is the most common type of structure, mainly because it is the easiest to form. The only thing you really need to do here is just open your doors and start doing business! That being said, it is also the riskiest. If you face any legal issues, there is no protection in the event you are sued and if something does arise, you can lose any or all of your personal assets.

Partnership

A partnership is a form of business structure with two or more people. The most common forms of partnerships and known as general partnerships and limited partnerships. General partnerships are ones in which all partners contribute to the day-to-day operations of a company and can make decisions on the company’s behalf. The partners also share in the profits and liabilities of the company. The partners ownership is considered equal unless otherwise specified.

A limited partnership is one in which there one or more partners that do not make day-to-day decisions in the operations of the business. He/she may have just contributed funds or other resources to the business, and typically their share of liabilities and profits is only to the extent of these contributions. Limited partnerships still require at least one general partner that will oversee the daily functions of the business.

If you decide to form a partnership, it is recommended that you create a partnership agreement. This is a legal document which lists the partners, their individual share of ownership, and other items and details that are associated with the operations and ownership of the business. It is also advisable that if you decide to form a partnership to seek out the counsel of attorney to ensure all partners interests are being protected.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

A limited liability company is a legal entity set up at the state level. It can be formed by one or multiple people (partnership). An LLC exists so in the case the company is to be sued, the individual owners can only be liable to the extent of their interest in the business. In other words, your personal assets cannot be used to settle either legal liabilities or other liabilities of the business. There are exceptions to this, however. If an LLC is shown to be using business assets for personal reasons of the owners, the owners’ personal assets can then be used to settle liabilities of the business. This is often referred to as “piercing the corporate veil” and is one of the most important reasons to keep business assets and personal assets separate.

Corporation

A Corporation is a separate legal entity. It also offers greater protection for the owners/shareholders. It is seen as more difficult to pierce the corporate veil of a corporation because of the legal entity. The most common types of corporate structures are C Corporations and S Corporations. C corporations are typically for larger companies with a lot of shareholders. The largest companies around are usually C corporations. They are often not a good fit for small business because they are subject to double taxation: The corporation pays the taxes of the company based on the profits and losses of the businesses, but in addition the individual shareholders are also liable for any dividends they receive from the company.

S Corporations are seen as advantageous because they retain the same corporate protections but with s corporations the individual shareholders pay the taxes of the business, relative to their ownership percentage in the business. In this way it is often said that the taxes “flow” over to the individual owners and aren’t subject to double taxation of C corporations.

Speak to an Attorney

Its recommended that before you decide on any type of entity you speak to an attorney who can walk you through the different entities, the benefits of each and provide guidance catered to your own specific situation. They can also help draft business documents that can protect yourself and other owners of the business. We recommend www.pollardgeneralcounsel.com, which helps new and existing businesses with entity selection, document preparation, contract review, as well as other business services.

Get an EIN Number

After you decide the type of business entity to operate in, the next step is to obtain an Employer Identification Number, also known as an EIN. EIN numbers are issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify businesses and tax returns, much in the same way that social security numbers are used to identify individual taxpayers. Most banks require an EIN to open a business account.

There are certain circumstances which may require you to get a new EIN, such as changing your entity type. To get an EIN, You can apply online with the IRS by going to: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/apply-for-an-employer-identification-number-ein-online or download the PDF and mail or fax the IRS form SS-4 https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fss4.pdf.

Get a Business Bank Account

Now that you have an EIN you should be all set to get a business bank account. Its important to separate business income and expenses from your personal account. This ensures accuracy of the accounting data, as well as keeps you in compliance with separation of personal and business for liability purposes. Now you are ready to earn your income and pay for business expenses! We hope your business is as successful as you aspire to and that this resource will help you grow as your business does!

Video: T Accounts and Normal Balances

In this video we begin to look at the chart of accounts a little more closely and review what we covered last video, such as the diffetent types of accounts:

-Income-Revenue
-Expenses
-Assets
-Liabilities
-Equity

I also introduce T accounts, which is basically a visual representation of a particular account. Accounting is a system of debits and credits. on the T account, debits are on the left, while credits are on the right. Depending on the type of account, a debit may increase or decrease that acoount. Likewise, the same holds true for credits.

With debits, think of D.E.A.L:

-Dividends
-Expenses
-Assets
-Losses

Generally, dividends, expenses, assets, and losses are increased with a debit and decreased with a credit

With Credits, think of G.I.R.L.S:

-Gains
-Income
-Revenue
-Losses
-Stockholders/owner equity

Generally, gains, income, revenue, losses, and stockholders-member equity will increase with a credit and decrease with a debit

Also, consider contra accounts which operate “contrary” to their main account counterparts. Examples are “allowance for bad debts” as a contra to accounts receivable and “discounts” as a contra to income-revenue

In our next video we will use T accounts to record transactions and begin to see how they shape our financial statements.

Video: Intro to Small Business Accounting and Accounts

When we talk about small business accounting, or accounting in general, we are dealing with transactions for a business to report for compliance, as well as to measure the health of the business based on financial data.

Some users of accounting data:
-Owners-managers
-Shareholders
-Banks-Financial institutions
-Potential buyers and sellers of businesses

Accounting – 5 different types of accounts
-Revenue/Income
-Expenses – Costs
-Assets
-Liabilities
-Equity

3 Main Financial Statements used for accounting purposes:

-Income statement: Income – Expenses = Profit/taxable income
-Balance sheet: Assets = Liabilities + Equity
-A picture of a business’ financial health in a moment in time
-Statement of cash flows