Accounting the Accountable Way

by Claire Minnaar

When we started our web agency in 2004, we knew very little. My husband, Ryan, had done a few small business ventures which hadn’t gone particularly well and I had only worked at one other company as a programmer who pretty much did what she was told and hardly ever dealt with clients. So, we really didn’t know very much.

That was when we came up with the bright idea of speaking to my Mom’s accountant, Brian, who has handled her accounts for yonks! This was officially the BEST thing we ever did!

Brian was able to advise us on the Pty, CC and Trusts we had in place and didn’t know what to do with. We knew the basic differences between a CC and Pty, but we weren’t sure what to do, which to run, costs involved and how the trust would be involved.

That meeting with Brian and ourselves all took place around June 2003 at the Mugg & Bean in Kloof Street which was just down the road to our flat in Tamboerskloof, where we were working in our spare room on an old counter top and plastic garden chairs!

Now, in 2011, we are still using Brian’s company and for good reason! We trust Brian completely and respect his advice enormously. He has advised us every year and has always shown an interest in our business. We are by no means Brian’s largest client, but he has never once made us feel that we aren’t important enough. He always responds to emails and he’s almost always a phone call away.

I do believe that, because of Brian, Ryan and I have made good decisions over the years. A good accountant will help you remain accountable for your business and will ensure that YOUR business is well looked after – it should be in their best interest to keep you going and / or growing to ensure that they keep a client.

So what’s the point?

Quite simply – get yourself a DAMN good accountant. You don’t really want to have to chop and change accountants as it gets very expensive and becomes very time consuming and potentially messy when you have to keep changing.

Traits of a good accountant include:

  • The accountant(s) should show a genuine interest in your business.
  • The accountant(s) should have a good track record with other clients – always get feedback and testimonials from other clients. Find out how the accountant has helped them to keep their books correct and up to date, whether they know you by name, they know the latest tax and / or credit laws.
  • The accountant(s) should be on the ball and telling YOU when it’s time to do your income tax, your VAT, etc. Ryan is not great at maths and I don’t have the time to focus on our books and money as that isn’t where my experience lies. I do what I do best, Ryan does what he does best and Brian’s company focuses on what they do best and that is making sure our business’s books are up to date, salary slips are done on time (very important to our employees!), VAT has been calculated and paid, PAYE has been done, etc.
  • The accountant(s) must be knowledgeable – this is crucial. An accountant can help your business SAVE money, MAKE money and help / guide you when and if you want to grow your business. A knowledgeable accountant is very important to ensure that you’re advised and directed correctly. In addition, they should be able to compare you with other business in similar industries to help you make decisions that can help boost your business.

I do believe that an accountant is a very valuable asset to your company. As soon as money starts exchanging hands, that money needs to go somewhere, be recorded somewhere and declared somewhere. It need not be an expensive procedure, so make sure to discuss things with the accounting firm you choose to interview or go with.

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