Dating an Accountant: The 10-Point Checklist Every Entrepreneur Needs

By Sandy Geyer, Special to Overdrive

In the entrepreneurial world the relationship between the entrepreneur and their accountant is significant and intimate. Exposing our financial matters to someone else feels much like showing up to a meeting without our clothes on, and we have good reason to be selective about whom we choose to entrust with our innermost confidences.

At the outset of the entrepreneur/accountant relationship, it is helpful to consider that it is commonly an alliance involving two very different types of thinkers.

At the one end of the “stereotype” spectrum we have the accountant, who is typically analytical, highly educated and trained to follow specific rules and systems. At the other end of the spectrum there is the entrepreneur, who has varying levels of formal education added to a high degree of “street-smartness,” on which he capitalizes to enhance his ability to think creatively and courageously. To the entrepreneur, rules are regarded mostly as a point from which to deviate.

Clearly, this alliance is unlikely to be a natural match, and therefore it is feasible to assume that some work will need to be done to effectively set a solid foundation for this partnership. We are all wired differently as individuals, regardless of whether we are an entrepreneur or an accountant. Understanding behavioural scientific theory can be very helpful to all business relationships.  

For now, we can bypass that theory and work within a framework of questions to ensure that we formulate the right foundation and working relationship between ourselves, as entrepreneurs, and our accountant, as a supportive and vital role player in our business. here are 10 questions to ask your accountant, which will cover all of the bases and encourage him to work with you in a proactive-profit manner:

  1. How does your fee structure work and how can your services and charges be tailored to my business needs?
  2. How can I structure my data capture to suit your processes best? (Check on software compatibility to ensure the least amount of doubling on monthly and annual data capture)
  3. When are GST returns and payments due, and what are my options in terms of working from invoices we have issued or money actually received?
  4. How is provisional tax calculated and at what point might it become an issue to my annual cash flow forecasts?
  5. What are the implications of income tax on profit that I might need to be aware of?
  6. How does dividends tax work and how is it best to manage dividends declarations?
  7. Can you advise me on a simple monthly tracking system to monitor my bottom line results against forecasts that might fit in with your systems?
  8. If you offer coaching, how is your coaching material specifically related to my industry and business progress in accounting and non-accounting related areas?
  9. By what communication method do you make your clients aware of changes to the country’s legislation regarding company taxation and related issues?
  10. Do you do the work on my accounts yourself or does another staff member complete them?

Accountants are an indispensable part of any business venture. As entrepreneurs, we are well-positioned to take the lead in terms of setting the foundation for the type of support and services that our accountant can provide to match our business needs.

Sandy Geyer is a businesswoman, author, speaker and mentor. For more information, email Sandy or click here.

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