Choosing an accountant for your design business
Here’s a comment I often hear from interior designers…
“I spend more time paying bills, entering transactions in Quickbooks and filing sales tax reports than I do actually working on design projects.”
Time is our most valuable resource. The way you make use of your time can make or break your design business. When you’re in the thick of it, business ownership often looks different. You probably thought the majority of your time would be devoted to client work. Ha!
As you now know, there are so many other elements that go into running a business. These tasks include (but are definitely not limited to!) managing your finances, marketing, networking, customer service and more; and they have the potential to completely eat up your day.
One way that designers choose to create more time in their day is to hire a bookkeeper, accountant or part-time CFO to manage their business financials. The time they get back by doing so often allows them to focus on profitable work and scale their business in ways they didn’t have an opportunity to before.
Here are four ways to ensure your accountant saves you a tremendous amount of time and provides you with more freedom to create.
1) Choose an accountant who works with other professionals in your industry.
When it comes to accounting and tax time, the number one way to ensure you save time and money is to choose an accountant with design industry expertise. Whether you’re an interior designer or a professional in another field, it’s vital that your accountant is familiar with your business. Not only does this save you from having to explain the nuances of your business (hello, sales tax!), but you’ll also know that you’re in competent, capable hands.
2) Use an accountant who is familiar with your technology and (more importantly!) can work in it.
I recently met an interior designer who had her office manager handling her bookkeeping, a tech-savvy project manager managing her financials in her cloud-based accounting software and an accountant for her year-end taxes who didn’t quite understand the nuances of her business.
Whoa. This is completely inefficient.
When you look for an accountant, try to find one who not only understands your industry, but who knows how to use your accounting software. Many interior designers use cloud-based accounting software. For accountants who aren’t well-versed in interior design, Quickbooks is the holy grail of financial software.
Don’t make the mistake of getting boxed into using software that makes you do double (even triple!) work. Even if you’re not doing the actual work yourself, it just means you have to spend more on finding people who can help you.
3) Consider hiring a part-time CFO… or hire a CPA who specializes in this service.
The instant objection I usually get when I suggest my client consider hiring a part-time CFO is: “It’s too expensive.” If that’s what you’re thinking, you owe it to yourself to continue reading.
A part-time CFO is an incredible value for many of my designer clients. It affords them the opportunity to focus on creating value for their clients and boosting profitability in their business. The duties of a part-time CFO are customized to meet your specific business goals, but can include: managing vendors, negotiating and finalizing contracts, ensuring profitability, HR responsibilities and managing a yearly plan while tracking objectives and goals.
If you consider all the time it takes to manage the aspects of your business outside of your client work, you might reconsider your approach to hiring a part-time CFO. We offer this service to many of our design clients.
4) Ask other professionals in your industry for trusted recommendations.
Recommendations are everything, especially when they come from someone in your field. Ask trusted colleagues in your industry to recommend accountants who save them time, maximize their return on investment and help them reach their financial goals. Some of your colleagues will look at you like you’re crazy for asking (and expecting) your accountant to help you in the aforementioned areas. If so, just know that their accountant is not a good fit for you and keep searching for one who will help you meet your goals. In the mean-time, educate yourself. Make sure you know what it takes to get things rolling while you are looking for the perfect fit.
When it comes to hiring financial partners, be it an accountant or part-time CFO, know that you have options. There are plenty of qualified accountants willing to take you on as a client. Your goal should be choosing one who will help your business run smoothly, has expertise in your industry and will help your business reach its income and growth goals.