What Are You Looking for in an Accountant?

I’m a sole practitioner, which means that I work alone. Someday I’ll have an assistant or two. And maybe I’ll even get ambitious enough to hire an accountant or take on a partner. But I’m not sure about that. I worry about losing the quality of my service and my work. Really! That is my biggest concern with expanding and growing.

choosing an accountantWhile I would love to have the extra income that comes with this kind of growth, I know that it has the potential to change my business, whether I want it to or not. And so I’m careful about that and want to make sure that I do whatever I can to minimize this. Which brings to me another concern: what people look for in an accountant.

It’s tax time. Or at least the beginnings of it. And that means that I’m starting to get calls from people who are looking for an accountant. And every single one of them, so far, cares only about one thing: price. But price isn’t the main factor in having an accountant. Sure, I know at my prices are lower than most professional firms. And for most things, even lower than H&R Block. But most of my clients are small business owners. They want an upfront quote. I’ve been trapped with that before, so am reluctant to give it. Why? Continue reading

Catching the Dream – Sticking with Goals & Principles

“I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.”

-Thomas Payne,   1776

In business and life we often have ideas and goals that we dream about and truly want to accomplish, yet our fears and those of the people who surround us will beat us down, sometimes defeating us before we truly get started. Catching your own dream and pursuing it is often elusive. Even finding that dream and what it truly is can be a great difficulty for many people. Some will spend years, even decades, in the pursuit of a goal that is not truly their own, only to find that they’ve lived an unsatisfactory life. This is one of the 5 greatest regrets of the dying – they wish they had lived a life more true to themselves, rather than the expectations of others.

It seems that most people will reach a point in their lives where they realize that they have not honoured even half of their dreams and die knowing that it is because of the choices they had made.  As business owners people often leave out much of their personal dreams in order to pursue their financial dreams and become a success. While this is laudable and certainly helps to keep some parts of life happy and fulfilled, we must remember not to sacrifice too much of this and still stick with our personal goals and dreams as well. There is no point in making lots of money if we cannot enjoy it!

Sticking with our principles means more than simply following our dreams; it also means to do what we believe is right, regardless of what others think. It means pursuing a higher path, whether it be in our business dealings or our personal lives. And that can be tough! There’s always pressure to give way, sometimes just a little bit, in order to make more or help someone else out. And this is sometimes at our expense or at the expense of our goals and principles. And these should never be compromised!

When posed with a decision, ask this question, “Would my young children be proud of the choices I make at this time?” Or ask, “Would someone I admire approve of the choice I am making?” And make sure that it is also something that you would be proud of and sticks with your goals and principles.

In my business I will sometimes get people asking me ways to lower their taxes, and some of the ideas they get are either incorrect, illegal, or sadly misinformed. Part of my dream is to run a business that is ethically pure and 100% honest, while still saving my clients as much as possible on taxes and improving their business’s bottom lines. I can only do this by being completely open and honest with them about all of these items. And, yes, I have lost a client because I refused to accept certain items on his financial statements that I knew were not business related. They would have been rejected in an audit – and I told him so. He walked away. I ran into him again sometime later, and he brought it up to me, saying that he should have listened, because he was audited. The penalties and interest he ended up paying weren’t worth the risk. His business no longer exists. I may have lost the revenue from a good business client, and even more from dealing with a difficult audit. But I can live with myself better knowing that the choice I made was the right one, and would have been for my client had he chosen to follow my advice.

Making these kind of choices isn’t always easy. And they aren’t always business decisions; they can be personal ones, too. Our business and personal lives really are intertwined and we shouldn’t have one set of values for each. Trying to do so really becomes a reflection of who we are. If we have the highest ideals in our home and personal lives, then these should also be in our professional lives. People will respect us more, and the rewards will show in the long run. And making such a choice allows us to better integrate our dreams in all aspects of our lives.