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Your accountant should be more than a tax preparer

Most everyone knows that smart tax preparation and planning requires a good accountant, but a smart CPA, who has worked with many small businesses, can help you do considerably more than just fulfill your obligations to the Internal Revenue Service. Your accountant should be able to provide solid business advice and introduce you to knowledgeable bankers and attorneys who have the ability to help you in your business endeavors.

It is imperative that you choose the right accountant that understands your business and the best way to do that is to ask your attorney, banker, or other business owners for their recommendations. Your accountant should be someone who has worked with other small businesses and has a solid understanding of your business.

Accountants who have small business knowledge have an understanding about how to help you make money and reach your goals. They can help you prepare your financial statements, compare the results to standards, and point you in the right direction on where to concentrate your efforts to be successful. If your business is struggling financially, your accountant can provide that independent advice that can help you turn things around.

You should meet with your trusted accountant on a routine basis — once a month or quarter. This enables your accountant to stay in touch with your business and what issues you are facing. Your accountant can help with things that don’t even have to do with numbers, since chances are he or she has seen it before. Meet, ask, and listen, you’ll be glad you did.

When you do meet, make sure you have the right documents and records for your accountant to review. If you’re not sure what you need to bring, ask. A good accountant can not only tell you what you need, but can aid you and your staff in preparing those documents.

If you’re looking for bank financing for a new business or for capital to expand your existing business, your accountant should be your first stop in the process. He or she can help you gather and prepare the appropriate documents, aid in preparing your business plan, and point you in the right direction in obtaining that loan. Consider taking your accountant with you when you meet your banker since he probably already has a relationship with the banker, and it can make the difference in a positive outcome. If you are not successful obtaining funds from local bank sources, your accountant can help you with other possible financing sources such as SBA loans, secondary lending markets, and even individual investors.

Max Halley is a CPA with Silas Simmons LLP in Natchez.