One of your most important business decisions in your studio

Being in business – any business – means having a strong underpinning of people you trust. There are dozens of decisions you have to make daily. All of them should fall within the structure and goals of the business you are running. This is as vital to you as a one-man/one-woman business as for General Electric.

So, how to set up this strong supporting structure for your business? Who to admit on board? What roles do they have in your business? When should they be consulted?

Many entrepreneurs think that they have the exact and complete background to trust only themselves. This is wrong and dangerous. A wise business person should never act alone.

He or she should make the final decisions, but never in a vacuum.

Let’s look at how you will control your business. Certainly you know that you need to have an accounting system – that the money you make should be controlled, studied, analyzed, acted upon and reported. Who will do that? Yes, an accountant is somebody
you will need sooner or later. We suggest you look at the accountant you need right from the start. If you are already in business, take a hard look at what you expect from your account and start searching.

Here are some of the most important parts.

You should have an accountant you feel you can trust. That person will be privy to the most intimate details of your business. We recommend you do not select Uncle Mike, since you trust him since childhood and he will be cheap. Family is great but family and
control of your business do not mix well.

Pick an outsider with good credentials, good recommendations from contacts you have Check his/her credentials. Does he have sufficient experience? Is he a CPA (Certified Public Accountant)? Would he be seriously interested in your success? Be up-front with
him – tell him if you are short of start-up capital or in a cash squeeze. Being completely open is tough, but absolutely necessary. How can you get the right advice if the advisor does not know the whole situation?

Think through the set of circumstances that might lead you to leave him. The old adage in business is that if you can hire you could also fire. Make sure you do not get tied in with someone you really do not know, forever. One of the practical details is to make it clear from the outset that his records belong to you. You should be able to collect your very important records and move on

Make a list of questions before you first talk to a contender as your accountant.  As a small business, you cannot afford large consulting firms. Your accountant might be the closest you come to a business consultant. Will he tell you the truth, the full truth, of your business? Would he give you an honest reading on how he sees your business heading? You are the business and only you can judge if he is right or wrong.

If you have a business plan, (which you must have) make him a party to it and explain clearly what you have in mind. If you don’t have a business plan, does he tell you to get one? Running a business without a business plan is like steering out to sea without a rudder and a compass. Very dangerous. We will get back to that many times as we discuss the various ceramic businesses we will cover.

Ask the accountant if he gives business advice? Does he give an honest and transparent report to you of each period he has reviewed/audited? If so, will he charge for it – and if so, for what kind of advise and how much? If he does not, that is a minus, but not
necessarily a sign to strike him out of the competition for your business. There are other ways of getting advice, which we will go over later on. If he says no, it might just be a sign of honesty.

Most importantly – will your future accountant have the time for your small business? Can he, at short notice, receive you for advises? Is he available on the phone for a quick consultation? Try to get an answer and be blunt about it. If you don’t get the attention you outline and need, he will not get your business.

There is not such a thing as a business without the need for access to expert advice. It does not need to be expensive. But it has to be there.

Here we have only talked a little bit about the control aspect – selecting the right accountant. There are a great many other things where you need support. You need financial advice, management advice (as you grow), marketing advice and legal advice. They are the four major supports under the stool you sit on. If one fails, you have a problem.


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© 2011 by Rolf E. Ericson, Oneonta, New York, publisher. All rights reserved. Photocopying, reproduction , copying, or redistribution of any kind in printed or electronic form is strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher.