Why do Eastern Virginia’s smartest companies come all the way to the water’s edge for accounting, tax and other financial services for their businesses?
Kathy Hall’s full-service accounting firm, now at our new address, is nestled in among the quaint shops and restaurants of historic Urbanna, on the shores of Urbanna Creek – a tiny tributary of the Rappahannock – whose main claim to fame is the annual Urbanna Oyster Festival. A major tourist draw, the Festival swells the town’s population from 800 to nearly 60,000 – and, yes, Kathy’s an officer of the Foundation that puts on the Festival and a whole year’s worth of related events. And her firm’s clients do appreciate the spirit of community service and other small-town values that are part of everything she and her team do.
In this historic hamlet, accounting is serious business.
True, much of the town is focused on fairs and festivals, sailboats and softshells – and, generally, life at leisure. And that life is what drew Kathy and husband Ed to move their family here in the first place. But let’s be clear: Kathleen M. Hall CPA, PC, the accounting firm, is all about the businesses that make a life of leisure possible:
- The local establishments that keep natives and visitors alike outfitted in everything from lodging to libations;
- The companies of every size whose revenues and earnings ultimately fund those lifestyle purchases.
- Plus the trusts, estates and tax planning that make sure everyone gets the most of every dollar, no matter where it comes from or where it’s ultimately going.
Are you getting the serious, professional service you need from your accounting solution?
Don’t be fooled by the small-town values, the civic pride, the commitment to community service and the personal attention to even the smallest client details. She doesn’t look it, but Kathy herself has 30 years under her belt, including time in sizable industrial and retail operations and one multiyear period as a multimillion-dollar operation’s CFO. So she’s pretty much seen it all. And as she adds staff and consulting help, the expertise grows deeper and broader.
So – how’s the advice you’re getting now?
Are you trying to do it all yourself, or with a single staff person? Or, conversely, are you finding your business just gets lost at a firm that’s bigger than you really need – and who wishes you had three times the budget for them? If it’s just you and a staff person, the only viewpoint you’re getting is essentially your own. Even if that person is a CPA. Because he/she is still dependent on you for his or her livelihood, it’s likely very hard for him/her to express an opinion you really don’t want to hear. Even if it’s the thing you most need to hear.
Yet, there are tidbits of advice you could be getting here and there, that could mean the difference between growing big and healthy over the long term and struggling to survive – month to month and quarter to quarter.
And that’s to say nothing of the big picture.
When someone like Kathy has a day-to-day view of your operation on the micro level, she also gets a clear view of where you’re headed on the macro level. If she can see one or two things in a year that can mean the difference between staying on the path to your goals and getting there faster, or even finding new opportunities for real success, what would that be worth?
On the other hand, we’ve all heard stories of the businessperson who forgot to file that one piece of paper with someone – or made some other trivial mistake – and it was the beginning of a problem that led all the way to bankruptcy. So, you might be thinking, “I’ve actually got someone who’s watching my finances and even my operations . . .
Why is it so important to have a CPA in my inner circle?”
If that person’s not a CPA, you might be missing:
- Little-known details in the way you buy things for your business. They can save you BIG on taxes.
- Structuring your business as a C or S corporation, or an LLC, has ramifications that go beyond taxes. Think about your relationship with family, investors, heirs . . . But you won’t know if you don’t talk to anyone but you.
- Ditto about how you take income out of your business. Should you take salary or dividends? Are you just considering the question now? The long-term implications are PROFOUND.
Taxes are only part of the Virginia accounting picture.
If you have a competent accounting firm, even if they’re a little too big for your real needs, they’ve been taking care of your taxes more than well enough. And they may know your business inside and out.
(Unless . . . Do you feel like you’re getting lost in the shuffle at a firm that’s a little too big? Maybe you’re starting to think the few hours a month you spend with that 24-year-old from the branch office isn’t quite what you signed up for. In which case, we should probably talk.)
So there’s some other reason you’re looking around:
- When’s the last time you had a candid assessment of your organization’s overall financial health – one that included advice you didn’t necessarily want to hear?
- Where do you want your operation to be in a year? Five years? Ten?Woody Allen, the film director whose best movies were in the 1970s and 1980s, had it half right. It’s not just a relationship that’s like a shark. A business is too. It has to keep moving forward or die. So if you don’t know where you’re going, we’d better figure it out before that shark starts swimming backwards.
- Do you know if you’re meeting your goals, beyond making payroll every month? (You are meeting payroll, right? Or is this an emergency?)
- Are you budgeting enough for marketing and sales? (Are you shocked a CPA would ask that?) Fact is, no business can grow without marketing – but it has to be the right kind. In this economy, no business can even survive without marketing. Now, people need a reason to buy; even a year ago, they didn’t.
- How about other areas of your company? Are you allocating appropriately? Are you getting the results from the staff and suppliers you put in place to do the job? You probably know that, good news or bad, the truth of this hits your numbers before it shows up anywhere else . . .
- What’s your debit/credit situation? Are receivables an issue? Are you aware of all of your financing alternatives – including some little-known ways to raise immediate operating cash that keep you OUT OF DEBT and in full control of your company’s equity?
So. How’d your financial solution stack up?
Are you getting advice that’s at least this good? Or did you start to get the feeling you might want a second opinion? Call Kathy now. And see how personal attention and long experience can make your margins wider than you expected.