For many of us, asking for help is a very hard thing to do. A New York Times article from 2007 explains that hesitance to ask for help can come from worry about what it will cost, or it can come from concern that you might get more help than you bargained for. On the other hand, that same article by Alina Tugend, proposes that not asking for help can actually have some big time negative consequences.
Small business owners, in particular, tend to be very used to a “do-it-yourself” philosophy. It’s probably due to the need to be a jack-of-all trades in the business and a hesitancy to let anyone else have a hand in their “baby.”
It’s true that asking for help can be hard, and every once in a while it can backfire. But, just like we teach our kids to always ask for a grown-up’s help before using the kitchen knives, there are a few times in the life of a small business, when you should ask for help.
When deciding to ask for help, the first thing to figure out is who are you going to ask? While you might ask your sister for help on which new chair to pick for your office, there are certain situations in which you should ask an accountant.
The 6 Times You Should Ask an Accountant for Help
1. When setting up your business’s legal structure
When you start a business, you need to decide on an entity type. For example, are you a sole proprietorship, LLC, S-Corporation, C-Corporation etc…? An accountant can walk you through each of these designations and explain what they mean and what the tax structures are.
2. When writing your business plan
I’m sorry to tell you, but the ideas that you jotted down on that napkin at a restaurant with your best friend does not count as a business plan. Writing a business plan is a must-do for all business for many reasons. However, it is especially important to have a well written and researched business plan when looking for bank loans or potential investors. Accountants can offer valuable guidance with this process.
3. When you are overbooked and don’t have time
As a small business owner, you have a lot on your plate. You are probably worried about managing employees, production of products, generating leads, paying employees, and balancing the books. Not to mention any family or social life you may have outside of the office.
There comes a point when it doesn’t make sense for you as a business owner to be handling all of your accounting. If you had wanted to be an accountant, you would have been an accountant, right? Your time is much better spent focusing on the other aspects of the business, while a professional takes care of the numbers. There’s no shame in delegating.
4. When your business just isn’t doing well
All businesses have ups and downs. Some of the ups and downs can be predicted. For example, many retail stores experience spikes during the November/December holiday season. Other ups and downs may come as a bit of a surprise. Working with an accountant can help your business manage the wave troughs when they occur. Additionally, an accountant can work with you to look at business metrics and data and discover why you just aren’t making a profit, so you can make changes and fix things.
If your business isn’t doing well, nothing is going to change unless something changes. So, ask for help from a professional.
5. When regulatory burdens and compliance issues are too much handle
Small business have quite a few legal logistics to worry about. Such as, state certificates and licenses and compliance laws that range from environmental protection to employee health insurance. Making sure all of these are taken care of takes time and energy. It can be difficult to keep up to date with all the requirements, too! Not only that, but not doing things correctly could have some serious consequences for your business. Let an accountant help.
6. When it is tax season
Why should you use an accountant to prepare and file your taxes instead of doing it yourself? First of all, time. Filing taxes as a small business can be trickier than filing your own taxes as as an employee. It will take longer and you won’t even know if you did everything correctly. Asking an accountant for help will take one thing off of your plate and give you peace of mind.
Secondly, Certified Public Accounts or CPAs, can represent you in front of the IRS in the case of an audit. Audits can be very a lengthy process that, without the help of an account, can require you to take a lot of time away from your business. A CPA will help make the audit go as smoothly and painlessly as possible.
Do you want to ask for some help? Don’t hesitate to contact us at Lumen Advisory and Finance!