Stop me if you’ve heard this before:
A small business owner, frustrated by doing their own books, hires a bookkeeper to begin handling the books in their business. That bookkeeper recommends a CPA, and everything seems “on the level” so the small business owner agrees.
…And NOBODY lives happily ever after.
This story just repeated itself less than six weeks ago…
The “Cliff’s Notes” of the problem is simple – the business owners didn’t know what they didn’t know, the bookkeeper made promises they couldn’t keep, and the CPA was dealing (mostly) with the bookkeeper, so the data the owners needed was never given to them, and the data the CPA needed from the owners never got delivered.
…And the only reason an unscrupulous bookkeeper was found out was the $7,000 tax bill the owners got!
Ironically, in this (true) story, the bookkeeper wasn’t stealing (although that’s happened WAY more than I’d like to acknowledge), they were simply incompetent. Monies paid to contractors were categorized as distributions to the owners (nearly $30,000!), medical bills were never documented, and then?
Nobody issued the W-2s for the owners!
As you can guess, it was a mess, and because the owners were – legitimately – dealing with health issues, when they could finally dig into these glaring challenges, it was nearly too late to save them.
I’m not telling you this to brag that we came in and saved the day at the 11th hour, I actually heard this from a friend of mine (who DID save the day); I’m sharing this to remind you how critical it is for owners to play an active role in their finances and taxes.
At a bare minimum, as a business owner, you should:
- Have a standard set of financial reports prepared for you and reviewed with your bookkeeper once a month. A quarterly review with your CPA is the next step.
- Learn what you don’t know. In those monthly and quarterly meetings? Ask questions, learn how to read reports, ask what changes you need to make in your business, or what other detailed reports can give you the data you need.
- Never think “the money will take care of itself!”
I’d like to take a minute to dig into that last point: The money never takes care of itself! As much as I sympathize with the business owners in this story, the truth is, they abdicated responsibility for the financial success of their company to a (relative) stranger. If you simply estimate the time they’d have needed to review the financials monthly, and any additional costs associated with paying for an extra hour or so of time from their tax teams, the additional costs they’ve now incurred from having to hire another CPA, have their returns reviewed and redone, and finally filed…
Well, to put it simply, they could have saved a lot of money – and more importantly – aggravation.
With that in mind, I want to extend an invitation to you. Pick up the phone, schedule some time with me or the team to help you learn more about the financials of your business. This isn’t about playing “gotcha,” or making a few extra bucks, it’s about making you a smarter business owner and potentially saving you a lot of money, a lot of time, and a lot of frustration when tax season gets here.