A CPA is vital to your small business development. Your CPA is supposed to be your financial ally who works with you to develop a successful business plan, but so many food businesses I work with don’t really understand the advice their CPA is giving them, or the implications that advice has on their financials. A great CPA will take the time to coach you, to talk to you about business growth, and to guide you through.
What Will a Great CPA do for my food business?
Most food business owners know that their CPA should be preparing their taxes for them every year. But great CPAs will do much more than tax prep. Great CPAs know the details of laws and rules, and how to legally maximize the rules in your favor to create a successful business plan. They look for ways to save you money, while also making sure your financials are in order so that if you ever get audited, you will have an easy experience with the IRS (imagine that!)
How can I tell if my CPA is doing a job?
First and foremost, your experience with your CPA should not be a dramatic one. You shouldn’t be confused, lost, in the dark, or surprised at any point. Your CPA should be communicating with you well in advance, and able to make the right plan for forming your keys to success in business.
Your CPA should meet with you every quarter, check in, and look at your books. If you’re making more or less money than you thought, your CPA should be able to adjust your estimated payments before April 15th. If you owe money to the IRS every April 15th, your CPA isn’t doing a good job helping you find small business opportunities. There should be no surprises. If you have to pay any penalties from the IRS, take that as a sign that your CPA isn’t out in front of you or helping you follow the rules. They should know what is coming and help you adhere to any laws before you get dinged.
You should be able to understand the advice your CPA is giving you.
If you leave meetings with them having no idea what your CPA said or how they’re helping you in setting up a business plan, then they might not be a great fit for you. Your CPA should have actionable steps for you to take: “If you do this in a different way, you can save money,” or “I want you start thinking about doing this a different way.” If they aren’t actively coaching about your financials, then you might consider looking for a new CPA. Your CPA should be proactive.
If you have to call them first to get ahead of deadlines, you need a new CPA. A red flag would be if your CPA files for extension after you’ve given them all of your financials well in advance. They should have about a month to get your taxes filed, but if you’re given them months of notice, and they still file for extension, then you might need a new CPA (if you’re giving things to your CPA late, then that’s not his fault. But if you’re working with Launch, your financials are in such good order that tax time is stress free!)
CPA’s can be a great resource for starting a business plan, choosing the right fit for you’re company is one of the keys to success in business.