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How soon should I take on an accountant?

Thursday, 21 June 2012 | By Marcia Griffin

How soon should I take on an accountant?


This question is very dear to my business heart, as it is so critical to be on top of the numbers before you start a business.


My answer to this question has a few levels.


Check your numbers before you even think of going into the business! This means talking to an accountant while you are considering the business.


Business is about financial outcomes as well as passion, challenge, enjoyment and all those other reasons for starting a business – but the numbers must stack up.


Remember your accountant is someone who is great at numbers and finance. Be careful to take that advice and if you need broader advice go to someone else.


Once your accountant has advised you about whether the numbers work, you then need to set up the books.


Actually, I feel this is so important that unless you are able to run MYOB or similar you should find a bookkeeper to do this from the start – budget this in.


I am now assuming that you have gone into business because you have a great product or service. If that is the case – and only if that is the tested case – let someone else do the books.


You don’t need to have a full-time bookkeeper. There are plenty of great bookkeepers out there who work on a casual basis and charge at those rates.


I have been employing a bookkeeper on this basis since the start of griffin+row. She is fantastic!


It has taken the worry out of that part of the business (BAS, etc), but I keep a keen eye on the bottom line.


Until your business becomes very big, please sign your own cheques, check your own accounts and then hand over the information to the casual bookkeeper.


Treat your bookkeeper as that – someone who receives figures from you and these are the figures that you are across and have agreed to.


Your accountant equally can be outsourced, but ask for and take their advice about figures from day one.


Your accountant should give you advice about accounting systems and processes, but you don’t need to employ one full-time for quite a while.


I can’t determine exactly when you should employ a full-time accountant; your business results will inform you of that. But you need to employ accounting attitudes from day one.


Business is about making money. You really need to accept that idea and be on top of the figures before you open the doors or turn on the computer!