I had an experience this week that most of us can probably relate to. My friend mentioned a recent injury. It was one those situations where all I could say was TALK TO A DOCTOR. I mean the bone wasn’t sticking out of their leg, but come on man, get that thing looked at. His response “Yeah I should get it looked at.” The guilty look on his face said that he knew the importance of actually seeing his doctor, but didn’t want to. I started thinking that I see that same look when I talk to entrepreneurs about their bookkeeping processes. Although there are exceptions to the rule, almost every conversation I have with entrepreneurs (who don’t have a bookkeeper) goes something like this:
- We start out talking about their company and they are confident and passionate about their business. Then they ask me what I do.
- I explain that I provide Financial Evaluation, and Business Coaching based by Managing the companies Bookkeeping functions, Focusing on their Financial Health and Looking for Process Improvement opportunities.
- At this point they are very supportive of what I do recognizing the need for good bookkeeping process for a company to be healthy.
- Then we start talking about their bookkeeping processes. Usually I see the passionate entrepreneur loose confidence and take on that same guilty look my friend had last week. Their response is some version of: I have some bookkeeping questions sometimes, but I do my own bookkeeping. I will be interested in a bookkeeper when I grow a little more.
I look at the relationship between the Business Owner, Bookkeeper and Accountant much like a HMO. The Business Owner (or more accurately the business itself) is the patient. With today’s technology the Bookkeeper should be more than the nurse who receives your information and enters it into the computer for your doctor to evaluate. The Bookkeeper should be able to collect current information, report on financial health and provide their opinion on the health of your business as both nurse and doctor. The Accountant is the specialist, the surgeon who takes the information from the doctor, evaluates it, makes their own observations and surgically manages your taxes and legal representation with the IRS. Like the HMO process, having a separation of duties between the Bookkeeper and Accountant saves you money, and allows you to have multiple advisers reporting on your business health.
In today’s world we are on a fast track where everything moves rapidly. Right now your business might be on the upswing looking like you are on the verge of being on top of the world. Then in a few months an unwatched financial health issue (such as an imbalance between your income vs. expenses during your recent growth) may explode into a full blown cardiac event. Although you are the expert on your business and have a firm grasp of your business plan, it is wise to have an adviser who has access to your businesses health history.