05 Dec Why Good Advice is Worth the Cost
Starting a business can be expensive. With initial costs to get up and running, staff salaries, insurance protection, inventory, supplies, business development and myriad other costs to consider, adding professional advice — and thereby, one more expense — can be overwhelming.
However, when it comes to getting your business off the ground, one of the best possible investments you can make is securing an expert to make sure you’re on solid financial footing. CPAs are uniquely qualified to provide this business perspective based on their experience reviewing and analyzing data for businesses.
Here are just a few ways sage advice from a CPA is worth the cost and can get your business off on the right foot:
Provide a stronger grasp of your capabilities
If you’re an extreme optimist, you may feel ready to expand your business and franchise nationally the day your doors open. On the other hand, if you’re prone to be more risk-averse, you may be counting your pennies and feeling afraid to make any overtly risky moves.
That’s where an accounting professional comes into play. They can take a look at your financials and give you a better idea of your business’s capabilities when it comes to growth, revenue and long-term opportunities.
Know your runway
You may anticipate that you won’t be profitable for a while when your business starts. After all, you’ll need to invest money in building your brand, purchasing equipment and supplies, and attracting customers.
Working with a CPA can help as you strive to minimize the unprofitable time period. By reviewing your expenses and business plan, they can help you determine just how long you can afford to go without turning a profit, and can help you determine how to either extend your runway or increase your options for revenue generation.
Find the rough patches ahead of time
CPAs are trained to analyze financial data and to make intelligent decisions based on their review. When you work with a CPA, they’ll be able to go through your financial data and your business plan, look for potentially troubling areas, and help you take appropriate steps to mitigate future issues.
As an example, many businesses have trouble with their cash flow being tied up in accounts receivable, often with 20 percent or more of their cash flow can be on hold at any given time. Because this is not an uncommon scenario, CPAs, lawyers and other professional firms tend to provide provide flexible payment options to clients who find themselves struggling with cash flow.
Give an unbiased opinion
You probably consider yourself an expert on your area of business, whether it’s marketing or retail sales or logistics. You have a wealth of experience, knowledge and training that you use to make decisions and intelligently manage your business efforts.
When you’ve invested your heart and soul into the business, it can be hard to look at information without biases coming into play.
That’s where your CPA’s experience and advice can benefit you. They’re focused on the numbers side, no matter what industry they’re reviewing.
They can look at information like cash flow patterns and inventory management from a dispassionate point of view and provide clear guidance unfettered by personal ties. And, they have access to specialized benchmarking and KPI software that most businesses don’t have, which gives them a unique ability to provide industry comparisons and analysis.
Then, of course, you’ll continue to bring your industry-specific knowledge to the table as well. Between your two combined points of view, you can come up with the best possible angle for success.
Make technology recommendations
There are hundreds of different types of software out there, and all of them provide benefits for businesses. Your CPA can help you determine which ones provide the greatest benefit for the cost.
As an example, you may be starry-eyed over an AI-driven customer chat service, a marketing automation platform and a customer-facing communications portal. Your accounting partner can help you weigh the cost-benefit associated with each of these products and assist you in choosing the one that suits your needs and helps you be most efficient with your spending.
Recommend trusted partners
Your CPA should be a trusted and reliable business partner. And, equally importantly, they should be able to connect you with other trustworthy business partners with whom you can build mutually beneficial relationships.
As an example, your CPA can look at your data and determine the type of business structure that best suits your needs (an LLC, a sole proprietorship, etc.). Then, if needed, they may be able to refer you to an attorney knowledgeable in those areas, in order to have the documentation properly prepared.
Your CPA can also recommend partners in other areas that can help your practice run smoothly. They may know of other clients who provide a product that fits your needs or may be able to recommend partnerships that allow you to harness innovation or maximize efficiency, all of which can benefit your business’s bottom line.
While no one enjoys losing good talent, some accounting firms understand the benefit that talent sharing can provide to both their firm and their client.
As an example, some large accounting firms allow team members to be outsourced to the clients for a specific time period. By partnering in this way, the firm gains intimate knowledge of the customers’ experience and industry, and your company benefits from that added expertise being used on your behalf.
While not all firms are interested in this kind of partnership, building strong and ongoing relationships with the accounting team managing your business can ensure a high level of knowledge when it comes to your business, regardless of whether they eventually join your team. That, in turn, leads to better service and a better understanding of complex issues facing your business.
But I Can’t Afford It…What Should I Do?
The adage “the most expensive thing you can buy is free advice” holds true when it comes to establishing a successful business. When you’re getting advice for free, your advisors may be well-meaning but may not be able to see the entire situation and analyze it from a variety of angles.
If you’re having trouble swallowing the cost of professional accounting services, here are a couple of things to keep in mind.
Keep track of ROI
You’ve probably heard people say that “you have to spend money to make money.” That may be true, and the best way to know for sure is to track and analyze both your expenditures and your returns.
It may cost a little extra to work with trained and knowledgeable accountants; however, when they analyze your business information, they can help you streamline costs and promote your most profitable products. A few little tweaks to your business model may allow you to increase your returns many-fold.
Ask for a payment plan
The price tag that comes along with professional services can sometimes be hard to swallow. After all, your goal in engaging an accountant is to make your business successful using their financial expertise, not just to spend more money before recouping it or reaping the benefits.
Tying up your working capital may not sound appealing, and thankfully, many firms realize that. Many accounting firms offer services known as fee financing, which gives clients flexibility on paying for their services.
Fee financing allows clients the opportunity to pay their professional services fees over time. In this way, you have the benefit of immediate advice, and the convenience of extended payments without an additional cash flow burden.
Know the cost of starting slow versus fixing fast
When you’re excited about a business idea, the last thing you want is for someone to jump in and say, “Wait! Let’s talk to the number crunchers!” Or, even worse, “Let’s pay to talk to the number crunchers!”
Sometimes, though, the cost of taking a little time to get started can save a lot more in the long run.
Making your CPA firm a true partner in your business can give you a tremendous boost against the competition, because you’ll be able to integrate ideas and advice as issues arise. In some cases, waiting to consult a CPA until your business is in trouble or facing a crisis can mean high costs and stressful deadlines to make things right.
If you’re considering seeking advice from a CPA firm, you don’t have to halt your efforts and wait for a lengthy analysis before getting started. And if your business is already up and running, that doesn’t mean you’re too late to benefit from an accounting professional’s expertise.
If you’ve found yourself in this position, reach out to your CPA firm and ask about fee financing options to get the advice you need to keep moving forward and keep your business on the path to success.
Making knowledgeable advice from a financial expert part of your business plan is worth the cost, as it can help you learn from the past, do well in the present and prepare for the future.