I am starting a small business with seven figure expectations. When I ask the CPA to write me at least three plans for growth for my business to keep me with them for life, I either got glazed eyes or a car salesman pitch. Not to mention the other 20 questions that didn't go well. I am in the 62522 area code but I am willing to travel.
Thanks for the replies Matt, Joe, Bob, and John. I should have better specified my discussion with the CPAs and what I have been advised to ask during a CPA interview. I only spoke with firms with bookkeeper and financial advisors in-house and was hoping to find one to assist me with a growth plan. I have a business plan but the answers I hoped for in the interviews were more along the lines of thorough analysis on my p&l statements, balance sheets, and cost flow statements, e.i. will they catch if I am over spending in my marketing department and notify me that I need to move my money around. That was the kind of plan that I was hoping for.
I spoke with a realtor friend about your responses and she does not believe that I am asking to much of a CPA firm, and to keep hunting for a more aggressive, hands-on firm. My unicorn is out there. :)
Agreed with John and Joe - You're not getting the answers you want because you're asking the wrong questions of a CPA. Their regular duties include tasks like the following:
- Organizing and updating accounting records as needed (digital and physical)
- Preparing and analyzing reports on transactions
- Performing regular, detailed audits to ensure accuracy in financial documents, expenditures and investments
This isn't to mention that you wanted 3 plans from them, which is an extremely arduous ask when the intended output is one good plan. I'm not even sure what you imagined the right answer to that question would be.
Formulating strategy, writing the business plan, and developing assumptions rooted in data to justify pro forma (projected) financial statements is absolutely outside their scope and are instead responsibilities of the founder. After all, how could they possibly know the information that the strategy is rooted in better than you, the one who did all the research. If you're looking for a potential CFO to co-write this plan with you, you're looking for a potential business partner and that's a very different conversation than a 20 question interview with an accountant.
Consider getting involved with the startup community in your own backyard - there's a small business incubator at SIU Carbondale, not far from you - they'll likely have interested parties and mentors you can leverage in the local area: https://incubator.siu.edu/
There are many good books on starting businesses, and many websites, and courses, that can help with that. You will see what examples of startup business plans, and what they should look like. The entrepreneur(you) will have to put the plan together. It will take a few weeks to do, but you will be much better off for it. The plan will force you to evaluate items like, business location, competition, sales, costs, revenue, timelines, and so on for the next few years. Not doing this is a major reason why startups fail. As you prepare it, you will see your business's strengths and weaknesses. Not only will the business plan be a guideline for you, but it can be used when seeking loan money as well. As others have said, CPAs are not general business consultants.
All the best of luck,
Your expectations of a CPA are not what a typical CPA does. You need a business advisor to help you with your plan creation. I have developed a Strategic Business Planning Process that has been used over 1,000 times. If you would like a more detailed discussion just send me an email.
Business planning is generally not what CPA’s do. They can help you set up the Accounting structure for your business, suggest internal controls and perhaps do some filings required by your state . You may find one with planning skills but when it comes to determining what your business should look like in say 5 to 10 years, that’s really your job. You may want to engage business consultants to help you refine your business plan but I think the initial vision for any company has to come from the entrepreneur.
I also think it would be very advantageous for you to first network with other business owners/ professionals to get a sense of how they managed to start and grow their business. You should also engage with business associations within your area . Lastly, there is a lot of educational information available on starting and growing a business. Doing some extensive reading , taking a business class and consulting with other professionals should provide you with the insight you need to help refine your business vision, better interact with business professionals and develop an appropriate plan to start, develop and eventually grow your business .
Good luck .
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