Do you work with small business owners or have your own practice? Whether you are a veteran at your business or starting something new, here are a few things that you need to know and avoid.
Sorry, but no one is going to care about your business the way you do.
You have to stay on top of the people that work for you or work with you, because for them it’s just a job. Issues like surfing the net, and congregating around the water cooler while on the clock are never going to go away.
And remember, there is a reason that they say “when you’re away, the mice will play.” We need and want time off from our business and it’s important to go on vacation, but put checkpoints in place while you are gone, and specific deadlines that you expect to be met when you come back.
Before I did that, there were many trips in which I came back confused about what exactly was done while I was away.
When using services like computer techs, social media, and other types of marketing, it’s always best to use an independent contractor.
They are going to be more motivated to give you the service that you need because their name is on the final product! When you are working with employees to do bookwork, taxes and other types of engagements, not matter what happens, it has your name on it, so whether we like it or not, at the end of the day they just aren’t going to care the same way you do.
Of course you can hire quality people to do the job right, but if there is a mistake, it’s on you, not them. With things like computers and marketing, mistakes are on the company that created it and their overall reputation to get more business.
Even if you are an accountant, we all have different areas of expertise, and just like you wouldn’t want a brain surgeon to perform heart surgery on you, you don’t want to get too far out of your area of expertise.
Be the best at your niche and stay there. It’s tempting to take on a profitable project and do some research, but I’ve found that by staying in my zone, I can provide immaculate service and keep my clients long term.
The electronic world has made the accounting industry much more difficult, due to confidentiality, IRS Identity Theft, and the fact that the IRS continues to do almost everything old school.
Unless your client is in a special department, you can’t email the IRS and the IRS frequently “loses” documents, so you have to always certify everything that you mail. We have had many situations in which we had to prove through fax records and certified receipts that we did, in fact, send our letter on time.
The IRS puts clients in a “guilty until proven innocent” stance so we have to be proactive in the level of detail and back up that we submit. It’s also critical that the information exchange is done in a highly confidential environment and one in which the client knows and understands how to use.
If it’s too complicated, then they simply won’t use your information exchange service, and if they email documents, then they are at risk for someone stealing it. It’s very important to constantly communicate and I have found that by letting them know that we use a certain system, like DropBox, that most clients are willing to conform.
This minimizes information coming at your office is multiple formats.
Being paperless is a must nowadays, and it’s easier to protect data and keep clients information confidential.
The problem is that people and business owners in general do not like taxes, and in many cases, even the most successful business man or woman breaks down when it comes to taxes and becomes somewhat paralyzed by fear. I have found that in many cases, if you have a tax return that cannot be filed electronically, then you do not want to send this type of form in an email.
Anything that requires someone to have to print, sign and send to the IRS causes a good 80% of clients to do absolutely nothing. We want to use technology as much as possible, but when it comes to the IRS, sometimes we have to do it old school too.