Did you recently engage an independent accountant or financial consultant to help your business crunch some numbers, balance your books, or prepare your taxes? You might be tempted to put your finances in your rearview mirror for now, but truth be told, they should never be far from top of mind.
An accountant’s true value lies beyond basic bookkeeping—it’s in his or her ability to analyze and interpret numbers and turn them into forecasts and actionable insights. Now that you’ve engaged a financial expert with some insight into your business, get some of that added value to help you make smarter decisions as you scale.
1. Find More Available Tax Deductions for Next Year’s Return
With more than $1 trillion in available tax deductions for the taking, are you certain you’re taking advantage of every deduction applicable to your business?
If you recently engaged an accountant to help prepare your tax filing, there are plenty of ways he or she can help keep you on the right path for next year’s—including zeroing in on missed deductions. Now that the time crunch of tax season has passed, a skilled accountant can help you locate deductions you might have missed or find ways for you to qualify for new ones.
Tip: An accountant is a valuable asset for any business year-round, not just at tax time. Check out our Small Business Accounting Checklist for a look at some of the monthly, quarterly, and yearly items an accountant can help you out with.
2. Get Insights and Action Items with Custom Business Reports
If you’re using accounting software like QuickBooks, you’ve likely noticed “Reports” on your company’s dashboard. These make it easy for you to generate and share reports that provide snapshots of your company’s financial health, such as profit and loss statements and expenses divvied up by vendor.
But what if you need more-customized reports? How financially savvy are you when it comes to gleaning the information you need to make smarter business decisions? An accountant can help you sift through the numbers for insights. If you’re evaluating various paths and investment areas, an accountant can help you look at your reports to evaluate your options, as well as review past decisions to gauge what worked and what didn’t.
Seeking new funding or approval for a loan? You can generate exactly the kind of reports necessary to provide all the relevant information the bank or investor needs. (Note: If a bank has required an independent opinion regarding the accuracy and compliance of your statements—usually in the case of acquiring a bank loan or signing a certain type of contract—you’ll likely want a third-party independent auditor, which is a specific kind of CPA.)
Tip: It’s easy to keep accountants in the loop when you use accounting software. Just email reports their way to keep them up-to-date, and they can send back the analysis you need. Not using accounting software? Check out our comparison of top accounting software to see which might fit your needs.
3. Create a Strategic Plan for the Years to Come
You’re likely not making big decisions about your business without a little plotting or taking on expensive projects or ventures without first determining if they’re too costly. That’s being strategic. But strategic planning is a bit more involved—and finance plays an important part in doing it effectively.
Say you have a new objective for your business and you need to make sure you have the resources to put a plan of action into motion. Your accounting professional can help you reach your objectives faster by providing some financially minded insight into how you formulate a strategy and allocate the resources you need to go after it.
4. Scaling Your Team? Get Accounting Help with Compliance and Payroll Tax
Engaging talent typically falls under the HR and legal umbrella, but an accountant can also be a valuable consultant when you’re expanding your team. Be sure to keep an accountant in the loop about any changes to your organization such as new contingent workers or vendors so that he or she can help ensure you’re handling all of your withholding and estimated payments correctly.
Tip: In conjunction with an accountant, check out Upwork’s articles and resources to help you better understand compliance questions such as classifying talent as an independent contractor or employee. If a worker should be classified as an employee, enrolling them in Upwork Payroll can help keep you in compliance with tax requirements, local employment laws, the ACA (Affordable Care Act), and other regulations.
5. Know the Value of Your Business During Valuation
Looking to bring on new investors? If you’ve ever watched an episode of Shark Tank, you know that an accurate valuation is something all investors want up front. An accountant may generate your business valuation using an income, market, or asset-based approach. Appraisals estimate the value of tangible/physical assets such as real estate, equipment, vehicles, and antiques. Valuations estimate the value of intangible as well as tangible assets.
If you have shareholders or partners or are seeking new investors, having a recent business valuation on hand—in addition to investment value and fair value assessments—can be an important asset.
Tip: A valuation performed by the same CPA who provides your accounting, auditing, or tax services may be viewed as a conflict of interest. Be sure to ask if this would be the case for you.
Don’t have any accounting help yet? Check out our how-to guide for hiring an accountant for your small business to get started today.