Now that we’re past July 15, 2020, and most people (I think!) have filed their tax returns, they may have noticed that their individual returns probably got a little more complicated this year. But if you own your own business or started a business in 2019, you probably noticed that those returns have gotten really complicated.

Just think about it: There were changes at the beginning of 2019 (which we’ve kind of forgotten about at this point), changes due to the multiple stimulus bills that were done here in early 2020 (the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, the Economic Injury Disaster (EIDL) loans) … business returns are not easy at all to prepare.

Business owners have to focus on a lot of different things: Customers, vendors, making the product, shipping the product and—oh yeah—they also have to do their accounting work. So it’s really not an 8 to 5 job.

So today I want to talk about how a business owner can team up with an accountant or a good team in order to make sure they’re doing everything right, or at least taking advantage of all the breaks and programs that are out there.

Where does a business owner even start with trying to find that trusted advisor?

Everybody that starts their own business thinks that they have the greatest idea in the world, and many of them do, because they’re pretty good at it. But in my opinion, the first step in deciding to start a business is just making sure you have that right team around you, whether it be the accountants, the attorneys, the bankers, financial advisors or even your peers, I think it’s important to have that good team.

So what kinds of services do CPA firms actually provide? Let’s really clarify that.

And we do pretty much the gambit of everything. So we’ll prepare income tax returns, we’ll prepare audits, financial statements, we’ll help out if the government comes in and audits you … those kinds of things, which are just more of a compliance thing.

But the big thing where you can get value from a CPA firm is in that tax planning. So we do a lot of tax planning for our clients, just to make sure that they’re on top of everything they need to.

But we can also help with kind of their “back room” stuff: Some of the bookkeeping, payroll services, sales tax … just general business consulting, valuations, all those kinds of things.

Sounds like it’s a commercial for your firm! But how would you choose which firm to actually go with? What makes you different at Hawkins Ash CPAs?

I think the nice thing about Hawkins Ash CPAs is we’re that regional firm; we’re not like a one-office firm and we’re not like a huge firm. We have nine offices between here and Minnesota, which allows us to really have a lot of experience to go back and talk to people. But one of the things that you’re going to want to do as a small business is just talk to your other trusted advisors and get a recommendation from them on who they think is a good accountant, who they think is a good attorney or banker.

Interview firms. Most firms just like us have that initial free meeting. And you can see how interested a firm is in your business. You want to have a firm that actually puts your interests first, whether that’s a local firm, a regional firm or a nation-wide firm.

Once you choose that trusted advisor, the next step is determining, “What do I do to set up my business?” And assuming that there’s no breaking news in the meantime, that’s what we’ll talk about next week!

 

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Jeff Dvorachek
I joined Hawkins Ash CPAs in 1998. I am the partner-in-charge of the Manitowoc, WI, office and tax director for the firm. I have thorough experience providing tax services to individuals, commercial businesses, nonprofit entities and estates and trusts. I also provide compilation and review services. I lead the Tax Committee and am a member of the Information Technology Advisory Committee.

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