What do your clients consider a good accountant? Someone who keeps their checks and balances in line? Someone who puts them on the path out of debt? Or maybe just someone that keeps the IRS out of their lives? Whatever their definition—or your definition—may be, there's always more you can do for your clients.
Many business owners are so bogged down in a number of other aspects of their business, that they often underestimate the power of their accountant. These days, you can offer so much more than traditional services; you can help in almost every aspect of their business. From drafting business plans to applying for a loan to managing employees, inventory and cash flow—a good accountant can provide specific financial metrics and projections to put business owners on the path to success.
Using advanced cloud computing accounting software, accountants have access to financial intelligence on demand. Number crunching that could take business owners hours on end is something a good accountant can understand and explain instantly. Concepts that may seem vast and overwhelming can be boiled down to a step-by-step guide or interactive visual map. Areas of a business such as sales/expense trending, risk indicators, misfinancing, inventory management, industry averages and competitor comparisons can be addressed in minutes rather than months.
Depending on the size of the business, there are different services you can offer. For a small business just starting out, an outside accountant working on a project basis is probably the best route. But larger corporations may need to consider hiring an inside accountant. Depending on your role, these are some of the features you should be offering.
- General ledger/chart of account maintenance
- Responsibility for daily transactions
- Financial statement preparation and analysis
- Cost accounting and variance analysis
- Treasury and cash management including bank reconciliations
- Payroll and fixed asset accounting
- Tax return preparation
- Preparing financial statements, including the balance sheet, income statement, and statement of cash
- Analysis or problem-solving advice
- Recording of transactions
- Payroll and fixed asset accounting
Now that you've solidified your suite of services, make sure your awesome accounting skills are known across the web. Make yourself available on top search engines that feature accountants such as Yelp, Angie's List, The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Professional Association of Small Business Accountants and National Association of Enrolled Agents.
Once you've made yourself available, marketed all of your key qualifications, and found a wide audience of prospects, take your technology to the next level. Keep tabs on your clients and communicate with them effectively and efficiently using premium accounting software programs like QuickBooks, Xero, Sage, Creative Solutions, and Finagraph. These systems enable users to streamline the accounting process, automate finances and instantly see a business health overview.
After this process has been completed, you can relax and start focusing on what you do best—saving your clients' business.
About the author:
James Walter is CEO and co-founder of Seattle-based Finagraph, a provider of best-in-class automated financial intelligence tools that provide advanced analytics and data verification to financial institutions. With decades of experience, he has also served as a leader at several technology and finance companies including Fusion Business Finance and Microsoft. He is a graduate of the University of Alaska in Computer Science, and resides in Seattle where he works with various startups helping to advance their businesses.