Prepare a business owner's tax return and you help them for a day. Teach a small-business owner how to do their own taxes and you'll still have to come in and help them at some point. That's job security! Still, it can be nice to make things easier for both you and your clients. Less chaos means fewer mistakes and subsequent professional liability lawsuits.
Let's check out three tips that can help ease your work stress and make your accounting wizardry less confusing for your small-business clients.
1. Send out reminders before quarterly tax returns.
Tax time can sneak up on the best of us, but if you're not letting your clients know about it at least a week in advance, you're just making your job harder. By sending out a friendly reminder email, you show your clients that you're looking out for them. Plus, it's a nudge for them to get their paperwork ready for you. Hopefully, they take the hint.
If not, ask them if they'd like earlier reminders. These notes don't take much time – in fact, you can set up your email system to automatically send an email whenever the quarterly deadline approaches.
2. Schedule appointments when you see your clients.
Before you let a client leave your office, get another appointment with them on the books. They're busy people and probably won't think to schedule another appointment on their own. Most people have a hard time remembering to make an appointment with their dentist, let alone their accountant.
Schedule the next year out, if you have to. Getting some time with your client can make it easier for everyone when tax season rolls around. You likely have to take the initiative with most clients, so make the most of it. Get your schedule set, have a plan ready, and enjoy the (relatively) smooth sailing that comes with preparedness.
For more tips, read, "5 Strategies to Get Clients to Come in before Crunch Time."
3. Offer finance-tracking templates or recommend accounting software.
This tip requires a little homework, but if you're technologically inclined, it's well worth the effort. There's a multitude of apps, tools, and software programs for business accounting. Find some that you feel comfortable with and learn the ins and outs. Then, let your client know about them. If your clients keep track of weekly expenses, receipts, and revenue in one place, you can do your work more efficiently. For a place to start, check out PCMag's Best Cloud-Based Accounting Tools.
Protecting Your Clients = Protecting Your Accounting Firm
Remember, the easier it is to do your job, the better you can serve your clients. Don't be afraid to push them in the direction of easier, better accounting. Make it known that you're protecting their business and saving them money.
At the same time, when you do better work and meet your deadlines, you decrease the risk of being sued over professional errors. For more risk management tips, read, "Five Ways to Protect Your Accounting, Tax Preparation, or Finance Business."