In a previous post I wrote about the Hierarchy of Financial Management Needs. Since Bookkeeping Services are the foundation for achieving sound financial management in any small business they need to provide more. I say only small business because as businesses grow so do their financial management needs. Regardless of company size the minimum requirement of a bookkeeping service is that they maintain complete, accurate, and timely accounts. This piece intends to talk about what traits set bookkeepers, CPA firms, and Outsourced CFO services apart.
Ability to see the big picture of a small business
This includes not only understanding how all of the accounting/financial systems and processes fit together, but also see how all of the parts of the business fit together despite how they are structured in the accounting system.
Technical accounting skills
While this was discussed above, it bears expanding upon. Technical accounting skill are different from accurate bookkeeping in that properly prepared accounts are done so using rather specific guidelines. These guidelines are known as GAAP or Generally Accepted Accounting Practices, and are better off followed earlier than later, especially with high growth small businesses. Some more relevant examples are accounting properly for payroll expenses, loan payments, capital purchases, and employee incentive plans.
The issue I find is that having good technical accounting skills tends to limit the ability to think outside of the box. I remember once riding down from a budget meeting with the COO of the company I worked for. A man that I still admire today for his intelligence. He said to me “You’re not just a bean counter, are you?”. Which I took this as a great compliment. He is now a member of SCORE which by the way is a great resource to small businesses.
Provide meaningful and actionable feedback on financial reports
I like to say that financial reports aren’t the ends to financial management, they’re the means. After all for many, financial reports are just numbers on a page and many owners don’t have the either the time to review or the understanding of how to interpret them. We have made an effort to continuously refine our CFO Advisory Services to better communicate to a broad range of end users.
Be able to communicate effectively
I could have written entirely about this topic alone because unfortunately many accounting professionals don’t communicate effectively. There are a number of things that need to improve:
- Return communications within one business day (out of office messages count). This means making the business’s concerns, your own. I recently ended my relationship with my CPA firm because they failed to reply to several weeks of emails and voicemails about my tax return.
- Don’t be a “yes man” or a “nay-sayer”, this requires being a good listener and again with the business’s concerns always in mind.
- Speak in layman’s terms, do I really need to say more? Double Declining Depreciation, no this isn’t what happens after age 50.
We’d like to help you
The Shared Finance Center provides outsourced accounting, bookkeeping and CFO support to small business owners and in doing so we heavily focus on maximizing cash flow. If you think that this post would be helpful to anyone you know, please pass it along. Also, please follow our blog for regular tips to help grow your business.