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Accounting Consultants: What Does The Term Really Mean?

Author : Bill Gerber
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If you've recently realized you need help with accounting services, you might be overwhelmed by the options available. Bookkeeper. CPA. Part-time financial controller. Even accounting consultants want your business.

Wait, accounting consultants? That's one you don't hear every day. What's that really mean?

If you've been in business for any length of time, you may have heard that old joke about how a consultant is someone who takes the watch off your wrist to tell you what time it is. (Would today's version involve taking your cell phone out of your pocket, instead?) It's true that it's easier than ever, with the Internet, for anyone to hang out the “consultant” shingle and take people's money. But business owners today are also more savvy than ever before, and they're not going to hire just anyone who claims to be a consultant, including accounting consultants, without seeing the real value behind what they offer.

Accounting Consultants: Reading More than Numbers

Let's go back to that old “telling time” analogy. What if your watch were not just a watch with 12 numbers and two hands? What if it were way more complicated and, even though you've been carrying this watch around for years, it was more of a fashion accessory than a tool that provides any useful information about the time or anything else.

For many business owners, that's exactly what accounting software is like. You have the software. You can see all these numbers in boxes. Maybe you can even hit a few buttons and send an invoice to clients or generate a cash flow statement. But if you don't understand accounting basics, the information you glean from that report isn't going to be much help when it comes to making financial decisions about your company's future. It's like trying to read a watch when you don't know how to tell time.

Accounting consultants do more than basic bookkeeping. In fact, this person probably won't “do your books,” although they might work in conjunction with a full-charge bookkeeper to make sure your books are accurate.

What Accounting Consultants Really Do

Accounting consultants help you understand what the various reports mean, and how the data you're seeing affects your company. Accounting consultants help with a number of tasks related to accounting services:

  • financial forecasting
  • analyzing financial statements
  • determining the profitability of your business
  • analyzing accounts payable to see where your business might be able to save money 
  • determining what accounting services you need
  • setting up consistent accounting practices

Putting the Right Accounting Practices in Place

Before your accounting consultant dives in with your full-charge bookkeeper to provide accounting services, they will help you make changes to your company's accounting processes and procedures for better efficiency.

An accounting consultant will implement a bookkeeping schedule, so you receive the reports you need, when you need them, on demand as well as on predetermined deadlines. And then, of course, your accounting consultant will meet with you to help you understand the significance of these reports, so you're not just looking at “numbers in boxes” and wondering what they mean.

If you're looking for a way to gain better financial control of your rapidly growing business, and you think outsourced accounting services may be one way to do it, consider how accounting consultants can help.

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