5 signs your facilitation business needs an accountant

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

You’re running in circles

As a trainer, facilitator or coach, you have to market yourself, take care of your customers, design your programs and schedule all your training sessions, right?

And when you are a small-business owner, you are the CEO, Director of Ops, VP of Marketing all rolled into one. If running your own business sounds like a full-time job, that’s because it is. 

So now you want to manage your accounts-payable, accounts-receivable, tax, file returns, issue invoices, chase debtors, and look after payroll as well as everything else?

Seriously?!

You can free yourself up

Ok. If you like doing your own books and filing returns, it can be very tempting to keep doing it. It gives you a sense of control. You like details. I get it. But what’s the cost to you?

You don’t poke around your mouth and do your own fillings, You trust a professional dentist to look after your teeth. So it’s high-time to entrust your business to a professional accountant as well.

The good news is that you don’t have to an accountant full-time on salary. You can contract an outsourced expert. There are plenty of qualified accountants online and in your neighborhood. 

Here are 5 signs that it’s time to bring in the professionals

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash
Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

1 You’ve just been hit with an audit

Tax authorities can decide at random to examine your financial records. You’ve done nothing wrong. It’s just what the government / state does from time to time as part of their remit. 

With their forensic abilities, these people are trained to find things you have overlooked or under/over estimated, often things you haven’t even thought of. 

Enlisting a CPA or qualifed accountant can save you time and possible onerous penalties.

Many offer an insurace package to cover the enormous labor costs of having to pay for time-consuming audit. Conservative estimates of an audit range from at least $10,000 or more.

2 You’re still using spreadsheets

Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel are great for book keeping but not for maintaining accounts. I find GDrive particulary useful because it’s free and accessible from any of my devices.

Trouble starts when you overwrite data, duplicate data or just fail to back-up a year’s worth of numbers. Spreadsheets give you a view of what’s on the page but not the full financial picture. 

When I began as a freelancer, I kept a single spreadsheet on an old Dell laptop until the drive crashed one night. Months of expenses and receipts up in smoke. Lesson learned. 

Any successful business you care to mention enlists the expertise of professionals. You can be 100% certain that they manage their clients finances with professional software not spreadsheets.

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

3 You don’t know what you’re worth

Imagine I ask you what you have in the bank, what you’re owed and what your net worth is. Could you tell me? Do you know where you stand right now in terms of income and outgoings?

A business can have valuable assets but still fail because it doesn’t have enough money coming in to cover payroll, subscriptions, overheads, taxes and everything else.

You need an overview at all times so you know how you stand. According to the USBA, the number one reason owners close firms is mismanagement of cash-flow.

I started coaching a trainer last December and the first thing I asked her was ‘how liquid are you’. She was thinking like an employee and had absolutely no idea. Alway know the answer.

READ OUR ARTICLE: Why you need to control expenses, fast!

4 You’re spending time you don’t have

If you’re stretched right now. It’s probably because you are doing everything yourself. You are spending time issuing invoices and tracking expenses when you could be charging for your time.

Have you calculated how much this is costing you? Put a dollar amount on your time. Would you be happy if you hired someone and they generated zero revenue? Of course not. 

You became a facilitator / coach / trainer so you could facilitate / coach / train, right? So do that! Spend your most important asset (time) doing what you’re world-class at and make money doing. 

In ‘Money’ by Rob Moore, I learned all about IGAs These are Income Generating Activities. When you are spending your time on IGAs, you are making money. Time spent on anything else is a cost.

5 You just don’t like numbers

If sitting down to a pile of receipts and expense claims is your idea of a nightmare, you’re not alone. Many freelancers avoid accounts until the eleventh hour. Numbers demand full attention.

Ask yourself whether you are prone to making financial errors. Have you ever submitted a report with a miscalculation? When you’re dealing with your money, it can be very costly.

Thousands of self-employed consultants and trainers use powerful but easy-to-use cloud-based software like Freshbooks to track expenses, invoice clients and maintain their cash-flow.

DIY Finance is not for everyone. Even if you like poring over charts and numbers, it’s a good idea to have an expert second set of eyes in case a small error morphs into one with legal implications!

Conclusion

These 5 signs should be seen as gentle warnings. There are going to be other signals that tell you you are better off focusing on what you do best and outsourcing the rest.

You and I need to understand accounts but we should leave management of them to money professionals. There are far too many risks in highly-technical disciplines like tax and finance.

As a training professional, you’re best on front of people who pay you to help them. Sitting behind a set of accounts is not helping anyone. If you’re unconvinced, maybe you’re in the wrong role.

When you are doing what you are paid to do, you are making money. That means spending billable hours on front of clients you can invoice. An accountant frees you up to do just that. Go hire one. 

What are your thoughts to help other trainers like you?

Resources

Freshbooks – Invoice and accounting software for freelancers
QuickBooks – Accounting package software from Intuit
Sage – Online accounting software

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