Have you ever played tennis by hitting a ball against the garage door? It’s not the worst way to practice. If you focus on the right parts of your technique you might actually get somewhere, but playing with a real, live partner who’s engaged in the game is going to take your skills to the next level. This is not too dissimilar from the accounting function in your small business.
As a small business owner, the responsibility for accounting falls directly in your lap. You can do it yourself, or you can find an accountant to take care of it for you. Whatever you choose, it’s on you.
If you’ve chosen to farm out those services to an accountant, what kind of relationship do you have? Is it like playing with the garage door – you have to hit first in order to get something back? Or is it like playing with a partner that gives you real feedback and direction while you’re on the court?
If you know anything about Core Group, then you already know we’re firmly in the camp that believes an accountant should be engaged, pro-active, and a participant in the success of their clients. That’s not always the case, however. So how do you get to a point where you can have that kind of relationship with your accountant? We've got a few ideas.
Communicate your expectations
There’s a good chance that your accountant is just like you - very busy and just trying to keep all their plates spinning during an average day. They don’t want to seem distant, but they’ve got a lot going on.
Reach out to them and let them know what you have planned for your organization, and how you’d like them participate in that plan. Be clear on what you want, and be able to offer details about goals, deadlines, and other objective guidelines for performance. They may be on board with your vision of this relationship, but you should be prepared for the possibility that they aren’t.
What about a subscription?
Not all accountants operate this way, but a subscription model of service could help change the dynamics of your relationship. This means that instead of paying by the hour or per-task, you pay a flat fee each month/quarter/year for their services. This method has the ability to move the customer-client relationship into a place where you’re in regular communication.
Yes, you pay your accountant to handle certain tasks, but what we’re asking here isn’t about you doing their job for them. When it’s time to meet up, have your documents or receipts in order, have questions ready – be prepared like you would for any other meeting. If you’re going to ask more out of them, are you going to give more of yourself? Many accountants believe that their job is to clean up their clients’ messes – often because that’s how most of their clients treat them. If you approach the relationship like you’re both partners in each other’s success, you might be pleasantly surprised at the response.
What changes in your most fundamental work relationships can get you closer to where you want to go? If you’d like to get a bit of perspective, get in touch with Core Group US and we can help you think outside the box about how work gets done.