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Why Joining a Credit Union for Military Entrepreneurs is Smart Business

By Marco Carbajo, Guest Blogger
Published: May 26, 2012 Updated: May 13, 2013

If you are in the military, a veteran, or military spouse and either own or are thinking about starting a business, consider joining a credit union for military entrepreneurs to service your company’s banking needs.

Military credit unions offer tremendous benefits for small business owners and because they are member-owned, they always act in your best interest.

The good news is this: once you are a member, you are always a member. You can leave the military, change employers, move, retire, and get married— and never have to leave the credit union.

Some of the additional benefits for military entrepreneurs are the wide array of financial products and services military credit unions offer.

For example, Navy Federal Credit Union offers a business credit card that does not report to your personal credit reports. When you draw on your company’s credit line, your personal debt/credit ratios are unaffected. This shelters your personal credit for personal necessities such as auto loans, mortgages, student loans, and personal credit cards.

Here is a breakdown of the types of business services military credit unions offer to its members.

Business Checking & Savings

  • Variety of business checking accounts
  • Variety of dividend-earnings savings products—Money Market Savings Accounts (MMSAs), Jumbo MMSAs and Certificates
  • Dividends earned daily
  • No or low monthly maintenance fees
  • Scan Deposits service

Business Loans (Secured and Unsecured Term Loans)

  • Inventory financing
  • Equipment purchases
  • Leasehold improvements
  • Finance—or even refinance—your investment properties
  • SBA Loans offered for start-up and/or less tenured businesses

Business Credit Cards

  • Low to No Annual Fees
  • Annual Percentage Rate as low as prime + 5.9%
  • Rewards Points

Merchant Card Processing

  • Fair pricing
  • Easy-to-read monthly processing statements that you will understand
  • Dedicated customer service and support

Generally, you can join a Military credit union if you fall under any of these categories:

  • All Department of Defense (DoD) uniformed personnel
  • All Department of Defense Reservists
  • All Army and Air National Guard Personnel
  • All Delayed Entry Program (DEP) Personnel
  • All DoD Officer Candidate programs
  • U.S. government employees assigned to DoD installations (including Coast Guard)
  • All DoD civilian employees
  • DoD contractors assigned to U.S. Government installations
  • Family Members—including grandparents, parents, spouses, siblings, grandchildren, children (including adopted and stepchildren) and household members

Some credit unions allow your family members (once they’ve joined) to extend the membership opportunity to their family members, too.

If you own a small start-up or a thriving company, a credit union for military entrepreneurs can help you guide your business every step of the way. You'll have a trusted partner who's looking out for your best interests.

*To locate a military credit union nearest you go to culookup.com and type in what branch of the military you serve under the affiliation tab.

My respect, appreciation, and prayers go out to all the members of our Military and their families. We thank you for your service, dedication, and sacrifice for our country.

About the Author:

Marco Carbajo
Marco Carbajo

Guest Blogger

Marco Carbajo is a business credit expert, author, speaker, and founder of the Business Credit Insiders Circle. He is a business credit blogger for Dun and Bradstreet Credibility Corp, the SBA.gov Community, About.com and All Business.com. His articles and blog; Business Credit Blogger.com, have been featured in 'Fox Small Business','American Express Small Business', 'Business Week', 'The Washington Post', 'The New York Times', 'The San Francisco Tribune',‘Alltop’, and ‘Entrepreneur Connect’.

Social Media, Exporting and Other Free Educational Sessions – Streamed Live from National Small Business Week

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: May 17, 2012 Updated: May 17, 2012

Next week is National Small Business Week and for the 49th year, entrepreneurs, SBA and other members of the small business community will gather in Washington, D.C., for the highlight of the week – the National Small Business Week Conference.

Aside from the awards and numerous networking opportunities presented by the event (running from May 20-22 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel), the conference also includes a schedule of educational seminars and forums offering a variety of learning opportunities across many topics for business owners. If you are in the Metro D.C. area, there’s still time to sign up. Many sessions are free. Check out the registration page and look for sessions marked $0.

Can’t make it to D.C.? Educational sessions will be streamed live.

Many of the sessions from the event will be streamed live. Here are a few you don’t want to miss:

  • How Small Businesses Can Win Big With Large Companies (Sun, May 20, 3-5 PM) – Got a great product, but no idea how to get it noticed by a large company? Ever wondered how to get your merchandise on the shelves of a major retailer? This panel offers solutions from all sides of the equation that add up to achievement.
  • Small Businesses Creating an Economy Built to Last (Mon, May 21, 10-11.15 AM) – SBA Administrator Karen Mills will host this town hall that features last year's National Small Business of the Year winner along with other panelists to discuss how small businesses are good for the long-term health of any economy.
  • Export Forum: Take Your Business Global (Mon, May 21, 11.30 AM-12.45 PM) – Includes strategies and resources for taking your small business global (a growing market, U.S. exports grew 15 percent in 2011). This forum's special guest is Nihat Ergun, Turkish Minister of Science, Industry and Technology.
  • Federal Contracting Educational Sessions (Tues, May 22, 10 AM-12.45 PM) – Three free sessions offering insights into how small business can better position themselves to win federal government business (over $100 billion of which goes to small business each year!).
  • Improving Your Business Through Sub-Contracting Opportunities (Tues, May 22, 11.30 AM-12:45 PM) – Learn how to take advantage of prime and sub-contracting opportunities with insights from panelists who will share their insights on mastering the challenges of getting into the supply chains of large primes.
  • Social Media (Tues, May 22, 3-4.30 PM) – This panel includes insights on ever-changing advancements in social media and how small business can take advantage of them. Speakers include experts: SBA guest blogger and GrowBiz Media CEO Rieva Lesonsky, Wall Street Journal’s Brian Moran, and business leaders from Yelp.com, Constant Contact, Twitter and Google. Special guest Sarah Bernard, Deptuy Director for the White House Office of Digital Strategy, will also join the forum.

For more information on how to watch these live webcasts, visit the National Small Business Week website. You can also follow SBA on Twitter and Facebook for more details nearer the time.

National Small Business Week Webcast
Sign up to receive a reminder about the National Small Business Week webcast. The event is May 20-26, 2012.

 

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Feeling the Squeeze? Here Are 6 Ways to Help Maintain Your Business Margins

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: May 14, 2012 Updated: September 28, 2016

Is the marketplace squeezing your margins? Do your customers have less disposable income to spend? Are market forces making it harder for you to stay profitable?

Making money is a perennial challenge for small business owners, and simply increasing your prices or selling more products or services – often at compromised margins – isn’t always the answer.

So, what sustainable strategies can you use to maintain and grow your margins? There’s no one-size-fits-all silver bullet, but here are some suggestions that might pay off, with your hard work and creativity.

1. Focus on Revenues

Look for ways to ensure predictable revenues. Set targets and ensure the business as a whole is held accountable, including your employees. Look for ways to lock clients into longer-term contracts. This might mean cutting your rates, but the long-term predictable volume will pay off.

Drop clients who aren’t key to your business or are simply unprofitable. Instead, refocus on building relationships with your existing clients, and invest in marketing to keep your revenues growing. This will help you plan for variables, such as losing clients or market changes.

2. Don’t Cut Your Marketing – Do More

While customer service is a huge differentiator for small businesses, customers can only experience that service if they use your business.  So once you’ve got them through the door, do everything you can to keep them coming back. This means making sure you stay top of mind with compelling marketing tactics. Here are a few to think about:

  • Step up your email outreach and up the ante on your special offers – Review past offers. What worked and what didn’t? Did they actually erode margins in an effort to drum up business? Think of ways to market a special without devaluing it or undercutting yourself. Remember, consumers want perceived value for money, but you’ve still got the same costs to cover.
  • Consider striking deals with businesses in your community and offer specials to employees. This won’t work for all businesses, but if you are in the service industry, it’s a great way to drum up repeatable traffic.
  • Reward loyalty – Instead of targeting coupon-clipping one-off customers, reward those who keep coming back. Loyalty programs have made quite a comeback in the past few years, and can take many forms. Examples range from point-based earn-as-you-spend systems to special offers that reward your most loyal customers. You’ll have to do a little list segmentation for this, or set up a program that encourages repeat visits, like “Visit us for lunch four times during the month of May and get your fifth lunch free.”

Get more tips in this blog: How to Cut your Marketing Budget and Build your Brand Profitably.

3. Re-Engineer Your Business Processes

Look for ways to do business differently. Is there a way to use technology to streamline processes? Would an investment in how your products are delivered pay off over the long term? How are your quality controls? Many businesses lose time and money fixing products or services that are delivered subpar.

4. Pay Attention to the Details

Money is in the details. Pay attention to them. For example, cross-check any inventory or deliveries from wholesalers so that you are 100-percent sure you are getting everything you paid for. If you operate a food service business, make sure your staff is properly trained to serve the right size portions or that food isn’t perishing because it’s not stored properly. What about your expenses? Small yet recurring charges and costs can quickly add over time.

5. Consider Hiring a Business Development Professional

Hiring might not seem like a good idea when margins are tight, but if your current business strategy is eroding your margins, making an investment in someone who can help steer your business down a more profitable course might make good business sense. If you simply don’t have the capital resources to do this, get advice from an organization like SCORE. SCORE has a huge network of small business mentors who have walked in your shoes and will consult for free.

6. Align Your Operations Around Customer Service

Is everyone on your team singing from the same hymnal? Consistently, good service is a huge differentiator in a tough economy and any setbacks can quickly impact your margins. From your phone lines to your website, front of house to the point of sale, do you have a good view of the customer service experience? Is every staff member doing what they need to be doing, without being asked?

Related Articles

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

9 Tips for Preparing Your Small Business for the 2012 Tourist Season

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: May 9, 2012 Updated: September 28, 2016

In 2011, 62 million international visitors came to the U.S. and spent $153 billion on travel and tourism-related goods and services.

While growth in the travel and tourism business is still in recovery mode, the early warm temperatures across most of the U.S. coupled with an uptick in positivity over the future of the economy could make 2012 a good year for the U.S. tourist industry and the small businesses that support it.

Today, Commerce Secretary John Bryson and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the Administration’s National Tourism and Travel Strategy [PDF] – delivering on President Obama’s call in January for a national strategy to promote domestic and international travel opportunities throughout the United States.

The National Strategy is a blueprint for expanding travel to and within the U.S., laying out concrete steps to be taken in five key areas.  It sets out a goal of increasing American jobs by attracting and welcoming 100 million international visitors annually by the end of 2021, more than a 50 percent increase over the number expected this year. These international visitors would spend an estimated $250 billion per year, creating jobs and spurring economic growth in communities across the country.  Learn more about the strategy here.

So, how can small business owners put the 2012 tourist and vacation season to profitable use? Here are some operational and marketing tips to help you start planning a successful season today.

1. Plan Your Marketing Strategy Now

While you should do everything you can to stay in touch with your customers all year, now is the time to reach out to past customers. Send emails offering coupons or showcase what’s new at your business. U.S. tourists often return to the same destinations year after year. What can you do now to bring them back to your business this year?

2. Hire Seasonal Workers

If your business counts on the summer season or tourist trade, then start planning your seasonal workforce now. If you’re new to this process or have questions about hiring and compensating seasonal workers (for example, do you need to pay unemployment taxes for seasonal workers?)  Check out this blog – Hiring Seasonal Workers – for tips on hiring and working with seasonal workers.

3. Get Help Financing your Seasonal Working Capital Needs

If you need help meeting your short-term and cyclical working capital needs, such as building inventory for the season or paying workers, then you might want to consider a short-term loan or line of credit such as SBA’s CAPLines Program, which provides advances against anticipated inventory and accounts receivable to help businesses with seasonal sales fluctuations. The program was recently streamlined to make it easier for small business owners to get financing even if collateral is tight.  Read more about the program or talk to your local SBA Office to learn more.

4. Plan to Get Involved in Local Events/Festivals

Sponsoring or participating in local festivals, carnivals and fairs is not only great for your brand, it can help introduce new and potential customers to your products and services. Start by identifying events that are the right fit for your business and have a track record of success. Local newspapers, community flyers, city or homeowner association websites, as well as your local Chamber of Commerce can help point you to upcoming events in your community. For tips on how to make the most of hosting and sponsoring events read guest blogger Rieva Lesonsky’s: Marketing Your Business with Events

5. Host Your Own Event

Whether it’s tied to a holiday (Memorial Day, July 4th) or a theme, why get your business out front by hosting your own event? Restaurants and stores can benefit most from self-hosted events, but other businesses can, too. For example, if your business organizes tours or other tourist-related activities, you could team up with other complementary local businesses to host a fair or other happening that provides an opportunity to showcase your services.

6. Take Your Business to Vacationers and Day Trippers

If you are in the food business, taking a concession stand on the road is a great way to capture tourism dollars and give new customers a taste of what you’ve got to offer back at your restaurant or store. From fairs to festivals, theaters and concerts, a concession stand is an opportunity to bring in extra dollars and spread the word. This article can help you understand how to start up a concession business: Starting a Mobile Food Concession Business.

7. Line Up Summer Giveaways

Whether your customers migrate away from you during tourist season or you are in the heart of a tourist hot-spot, use promotional items with your name, website, etc. printed on them. From frisbees to re-useable water bottles, host a competition and use these as giveaways or give cheaper items away when customers frequent your business.

8. Partner with Local Business Groups

Reach out to your local Chamber of Commerce and local tourism associations or sector organizations that promote clusters of businesses in the same business sector such as hotels, restaurants, tour operators, B&B’s, camp grounds, and so on. Many of these offer small businesses an opportunity to participate in their targeted and collective approach to seasonal marketing.

9. Stay in Touch

Remember to stay in touch with customers year-round.  If you run a seasonal business, your off-season should be one of your busiest marketing seasons. Capture customer emails (use drawings, surveys, and other sign-up incentives), send updates year-round (entice them to come back next year) and use social media  to put out teasing content and updates all year long!

For example, a popular vacation beach rental realty company in North Carolina’s Outer Banks posts Facebook updates from the beach even in winter. These include videos of the beach in wild weather, teasers when it’s nice (“don’t you just wish you were here”), updates about what’s new for the upcoming season, and promotions on early-bird rental bookings. It’s a nice reminder of a summer vacation, costs very little, and keeps them in customers’ minds throughout the year.

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

7 Tips for Preparing for an Early Retirement Now

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: May 7, 2012 Updated: September 26, 2016

Alongside home ownership, early retirement is a long-held American dream. But in recent years, planning for retirement itself, let alone an early one, isn’t getting any easier. In 1991, half of all American workers planned to retire before they reached the age of 65. Today, that number has plunged to just 23 percent.

And that’s not the only alarming statistic. A study conducted by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research reported that American workers are $6.6 trillion short of what they need to retire comfortably. Meanwhile, over the next five years, the health and medical insurance industry’s revenue is forecast to increase at an average annualized rate of 5 percent to more than $865.8 billion – putting even more pressure on most Baby Boomers’ underfunded retirement nest eggs. (Source: Financial-Planning.com)

But if you are 10-20 years away from your desired retirement age, there are still some things you can do now as a small business owner to make it easier for you to retire on your terms.

1) Cash Flow Positive? Invest!

If you are new to business ownership, start putting money aside as soon as you have sufficient cash flow to do so (meaning you’re generating enough income to cover your expenses and debts). Start as soon as you can and invest in tax-efficient retirement plans such as an SEP IRA, a SIMPLE-IRA, a traditional 401(k), a Solo 401(k), a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA.

2) Have a Solid Financial Plan and Revisit it Often

Planning on retiring on the earnings from the sale of your business? Is that going to be enough? What happens if market conditions change, or unexpected liabilities or risks occur that threaten the worth of your business?

Just as you need a living, breathing business plan to steer your business on its course, it’s just as important to have a financial retirement plan that tells you how much you need to set aside for your retirement, independent of your business assets.

Proper planning should take into account tax planning, investments, employee costs (health insurance, wages, benefits), profit-sharing plans, and succession goals.

Spend some time with an independent financial advisor now and throughout your business career to constantly and holistically assess and manage business risks and opportunities.

3) Build Your Business as an Asset

Seventy percent of small businesses are run by sole proprietors, but your business is about more than just you. Look for ways to grow it as a sustainable and attractive asset so that it’s profitable even when you are not there – and retains its appeal to potential buyers.

4) Get the Right Health Care Plan – Today!

Don’t wait to see what Medicare will and won’t cover by the time you retire, or you run the risk of spending all your retirement savings on medical bills. Plan now for long-term health care – talk to a trusted insurance broker (ask around for referrals) or check out Healthcare.gov to understand your options.

5) Plan Your Exit Strategy Now

How can you retire without destroying the business you spent a lifetime building? Your business may be your largest asset, and deciding what happens to it can impact your retirement income, your family’s wealth, and the life of the company after your departure. Even if you are only just starting out, you should address these questions now because the future is uncertain. Here are four ways to sell your company when you retire (or when you die). SBA guest blogger Barbara Weltman offers advice on optimizing your return and protecting your lifelong investment in her blog: Four Ways to Exit your Business Gracefully.

6) Keep on Working?

Can’t imagine retiring full time? Know you’re going to need some additional income and benefits after you retire? There are many post-retirement career options to consider, but as more retirees look for part-time or freelance work, it’s going to become an increasingly crowded space. So plan ahead now.

Starting another business post retirement might also be an attractive option. The following articles offer tips that can help you formulate your business idea and put it into action – in the context of your retirement planning and needs.

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

The Legal Steps Involved in Moving Your Business to a New State – FAQs Answered

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: April 25, 2012 Updated: September 20, 2016

Businesses move all the time.  If a move is in the cards for your business, what should you do? Maybe you’re expanding and are out of capacity at your current location, or maybe a move is for personal reasons. Maybe you want relocate to a state that is more favorable to small businesses, such a state without any income taxes

Moving a business raises many questions, particularly questions about legal and regulatory matters. In fact, some of the most common questions by small business owners are about the ramifications a relocation has on taxes, registration and incorporation.  

If you’re thinking of moving or have already relocated your business, here are some answers to some of those questions:

Q: I operate an LLC. What steps do I have to take when I relocate?

A: It’s always best to consult an attorney if you are moving your LLC to a new state since there are several options open to you that require careful consideration. Here are your choices:

  1. Continue the LLC in your old state and register as a foreign (out of state) LLC in your new state. This will mean more paperwork (you’ll need to file duplicate annual reports) and tax filing. Reporting for multi-member LLCs can get more complex.
  2. Liquidate the old LLC and form an LLC in your new state.
  3. Register a new LLC in the new state and have each member transfer their membership interest (percent ownership) from the old LLC to the new LLC in the new state.
  4. Form a new LLC in your new state and merge the previous LLC into it. The IRS views this as a continuation of the old LLC and you can continue with your existing EIN. Assuming all LLC members still have a 50 percent interest in the capital and profits of the new LLC, there are no tax consequences either.

Q: What about Corporations?

A: Corporations (“C” or “S”) have similar options to LLCs:

  1. Continue the corporation in your old state and register as a foreign corporation in your new one.
  2. Dissolve the corporation in the old state and form a new one
  3. Reorganize (tax-free) and merge the old corporation into a corporation formed in the new state.

Talk to an attorney about tax ramifications, filing and ongoing reporting requirements, as well as the specific requirements in your old state regarding dissolving a corporation.

Q: What about sole proprietors or partnerships?

A: Moving a business out of state as a sole proprietor or partnership is pretty easy. You simply register your new business using the “Doing Business As” (DBA) registration process in your new state (usually at the county office) and discontinue your old one. This SBA guide has more information on the DBA registration process.

Q: I run an online business. What happens when I move?

A: Although your online business has no boundaries in terms of where you can do business, if you do move your business, you must comply with the laws that apply in your new state. So, even if your online business remains the same, you still need to legally move your business entity. Refer to the process described above for sole proprietors, partnerships, LLCs or corporations.

If you operate an e-commerce site, you’ll also need to apply for a sales tax permit in your new state. Read more about sales tax and selling to customers in different states in this earlier blog: Sales Tax 101 for Small Business Owners and Online Retailers.

Q: What about licenses and permits?

A: Moving a business involves almost the same legal and regulatory steps as starting a business, including obtaining the right business licenses and permits. Even if you intend to work from home, you’ll still need a home occupancy permit and a professional business license from your county. SBA’s Business Licenses and Permits search tool can help you find what’s needed in your new state. Be sure to check local zoning laws too.

Q: What impact does a business move have on my taxes?

A: Since you are moving out of state, you’ll need to close out your tax year in your old state (often as simple as checking the “Final Return” box on your state return). At the federal level, depending on your business structure, there may be several tax consequences to consider before and after you relocate. Every business is unique, so talk to a tax expert to get a quick grasp of your business tax responsibilities in the first year of your move.

Don't forget that you can deduct or capitalize the costs incurred during business relocation, including moving costs, relocation site scouting trips, travel and meeting costs. Get more guidance on small business expenses and tax deductions here.

Related Article

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

How to Find an Accountant Who Can Help Your Small Business over the Long Haul

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: April 16, 2012 Updated: April 30, 2012

Just filed your taxes and wished you’d had the help of an accountant? Unhappy with your current accountant? Here are some tips for finding and choosing an accountant you can trust with your small business numbers and rely on for solid financial advice throughout the year.

Why Hire an Accountant

An accountant can save you time and clear up much of the confusion you experience when it comes to managing your finances and taxes, but a trusted accountant can provide other benefits, too.

  • Act as a Trusted Advisor – More than just a tax preparer, an accountant can become a trusted advisor to your small business, helping you manage cash flow, plan for growth, assess risk, and keep your books in order.
  • Help Balance Business and Personal Needs – Many small businesses, particularly sole proprietors and startups, find that their business and personal finances are closely linked. A good accountant can help you make sound judgments beneficial to both.

How to Find an Accountant

Referrals are often the best way to find accountants you can trust. Network and mingle at local business events hosted by your local Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Development Center, or other small business organizations. Ask other business owners for referrals and even meet accountants. Your state accounting society can also connect you to CPAs.

Interviewing Candidates

Once you have a short list, schedule a free initial consultation to help determine whether your candidates are the right fit for your needs: Some questions to ask include:

What’s your experience with small businesses? Small businesses have dynamic and sometimes complex accounting needs and few resources to manage them.  An accountant who understands these dynamics and has a solid small business client base will likely serve your needs better in the long run. You’ll also want to know that your accountant has experience with businesses that are structured like yours – whether you are a sole proprietor, LLC, partnership, or corporation.

What experience do you have with my industry? Ideally, your accountant should have knowledge of your industry. Many accountants specialize in certain industries such as franchising, real estate, construction or exporting. Again, get referrals from others in your industry.

Do you do more than tax preparation? If you need help with tax filing, then a tax preparer is the way to go. But if you want long-term strategic advice to help you manage your small business finances, be sure to ask about the range of value-add services, such as business valuation, budgeting and forecasting, bookkeeping, risk assessment, and small business startup advice.

Who will I be working with? If your accountant is to become a trusted advisor, then you want to know from the get-go who exactly you’ll be working with.  A smaller firm, where a partner or owner handles the bulk of the work, is often a better choice for small businesses looking for a long-term advisory relationship. The alternative is a larger firm, where you are handed off to a junior accountant after the initial handshake. Other things to consider as you compare your candidates are:

  • Flexibility and responsiveness – for example, are they willing to visit your business premises for quarterly reviews? How quickly will they respond to queries or requests?
  • Fees and charges
  • Value-add services that you may want in the future, such as audit support or CFO services.
  • Professional qualifications, licenses (CPAs are distinguished from other accounting practitioners by strict licensing regulations), and references

Remember...

You are the person who is ultimately responsible for your taxes and finances. Be wary of accountants who promise things that seem too good to be true. If you have concerns about an accountant's claims, you should contact your state's Board of Accountancy. You can file a complaint against a tax preparer at the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility.

Additional Resources

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

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