Often, new businesses are overwhelmed with the amount of compliance, reporting and unknown pitfalls that they experience being an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs often start a business because they had a passion to do what they are good at and make some money doing it. We have a client who is a relatively new law firm, so they did not have all of the years of experience with business operations or best practices. The two partners had moved out of firms where they were employees and decided to go into practice with each other.
When we started working with this firm, we emphasized the importance of establishing a scalable administrative and financial infrastructure that would grow and change as the firm got more established. Often, new businesses are overwhelmed with the amount of compliance, reporting and unknown pitfalls that they experience being an entrepreneur. We felt that the more that our clients could focus on their core business (by doing less of what is not their strong suit) the more they would ultimately make and be satisfied with their business. To facilitate this, we helped the firm implement a number of initiatives:
Implementation of a cloud based accounting system to allow for instant collaboration into their day-to-day accounting:
Rather than using a traditional desktop accounting software, we opted to implement a cloud-based program called Xero for the practice. This allowed us to be a part of their day-to-day accounting without needing the client to send us a fixed data file periodically. If there was an area we need to discuss, we could pull their books up immediately, rather than having to wait for the data file to transition over. The client enjoyed not pushing data to us and the real-time element of the cloud system.
Quarterly meetings with the owners to discuss business issues, identify areas of concern and leverage our experience with other clients to establish best practices for the client to execute:
Many new business owners don’t necessarily know the best questions to ask, what the best practices are and what they should (or shouldn’t) worry about. These meetings created an open forum for the owners to ask whatever came to mind. We responded through our experience and the collective experience of our other attorney clients. This client was able to see how other firms operated and what best practices would apply to them.
Do periodic tax and business planning to manage tax burdens and forecast what is going on within the business:
By having regular contact with our client, we are able to stay abreast of how their business is doing. We know when cash flow is poor; we know when big cases are settling that will create a huge spike in income; we are in the trenches with them. We are able to project the tax burden based on what the business is doing now and avoid big surprises when tax time came along.
Coordinated a payroll solution that would be easy for the firm to work with, while making sure that all of the payroll compliance was seamless and timely executed:
Payroll is an area that seems easy, but takes a huge amount of time to fulfill all of the compliance necessary to do payroll correctly. We set them up on a cloud program called ZenPayroll that allowed them to handle the time input, while that service handled all of the compliance. The payroll information seamlessly imported into Xero, keeping the system real-time as expected!
Answer questions regarding topics such as health insurance, employee compensation, retirement plans and more as they come up:
Our client had a number of other questions that related owning to business, not necessarily running a law firm. Given our deep knowledge into their business and personal circumstances, we are able to provide them solutions that really fit their situation. For example, while a SEP plan would provide the owners the largest retirement benefit, it would have cost the practice way more than they were comfortable with since the SEP had to cover all of the employees. We were able to steer them into a plan that met their needs at a cost they were comfortable with.
While compliance is a critical element to what we do as CPAs, it is not often where we can do the most good for our clients. With us helping create a flexible financial infrastructure, our business owners are able to truly focus on their core competencies, allowing the business to flourish. This is not the only client we work closely with like this. We collaborate with many small business clients to provide them more value than just basic financial statements or a nice looking tax return.
My law firm has worked with Butler and Company CPAs for approximately four years. We use their bookkeeping and CPA services. Jason DeShayes, CPA is knowledgeable and personable, and works directly with us to ensure we meet our financial obligations. Mr. DeShayes has provided sound financial advice and opportunities for our business. Mr. DeShayes and his staff have proven to be flexible and accommodating to our Apple-based business, and has integrated our case management system into their bookkeeping services. We are consistently pleased with Butler and Company's customer service and responsiveness. I highly recommend this accounting firm.
- Mollie McGraw