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For more information, check out the business.govt.nz page for Workplace operations at COVID-19 alert levels

Getting financial advice

You don’t, and shouldn’t, need to be an authority on financial matters to be a contractor, sole trader, in a partnership or to run your own company. A good accountant will free you up to concentrate on your work, while giving you confidence that your numbers are working for you.

A proactive accountant will help you reduce your tax, maximise profits and achieve your goals. Successful business owners seek financial advice regularly — no matter what state their accounts are in.

Why seek expert help

A good accountant is key to the financial health and success of most businesses and self-employed people.

On a basic level, it’s their job to help make the numbers work for you by:

  • making sure you’re compliant
  • advising you on how to reduce your tax
  • helping you maximise cash flow.

They will also objectively assess how your business is performing, where you’re falling short and how you can work to improve.

Lots of accountancy firms also offer business advisory and coaching services to help you with strategic planning.

The monthly fee for most accountancy services puts off some business owners, contractors and self-employed people — but the old adage “you get what you pay for” rings true. Investing in a good accountant will save you money, and potentially your business, in the long run.

Do ask for an estimate before making an appointment.

Do ask for an estimate before making an appointment.

If you’re worried about the cost, many advisors offer a free initial consultation.

When to seek financial advice

While you should check in with your accountant on a regular basis, it’s particularly important to get financial advice when you are:

  • starting out
  • having trouble paying your bills
  • looking to grow
  • closing or selling your business
  • getting ready to seek investment
  • considering large bank loans
  • filing your taxes, or dealing with tricky tax issues.
Don’t bury your head in the sand.

Don’t bury your head in the sand.

Ask for expert help before you get into any serious financial trouble.

Case study

Case study

Fixing cash leaks

Richie runs a home maintenance and repair business. After three years of struggling with cash flow, Richie begins to burn out. He’s working harder than ever, but his efforts aren’t translating into profits — and he doesn’t know why.

Richie decides to consult with an accountant, who closely analyses his financial statements.

His accountant notices many of his customers aren’t paying him on time, and he’s using several high-interest credit cards for a lot of his expenses.

She helps him set up better invoicing methods, consolidates his debt, and moves him to a lower-interest credit card. She also works with him to put together guidelines on when, and when not to, use the credit card for work expenses. And she coaches him on how he can manage his money better in the future.

Tips on getting paid on time

Choosing the right person

Different accountants have different styles and areas of expertise.

Some focus mostly on bookkeeping and tax time matters. Others offer a full range of business services.

If you are starting out, find an accountant who has experience dealing with people in your industry and stage of business, eg launching a start-up or becoming self-employed. You’ll get the most value from a diligent, proactive accountant who dissects your financial documents and spots potential problems before they arise.

For help with your day-to-day finances, a bookkeeper might be a good alternative.

For help with your day-to-day finances, a bookkeeper might be a good alternative.

They can keep you up to date with accounting, tax and payroll obligations.

The first meeting

When you meet your accountant for the first time, you’ll need to bring them up to speed on all the different parts of your work.

Bring along financial and planning documents including:

  • past financial records
  • a cash flow forecast
  • projections
  • a business plan.

If you’re new to business, contracting or working as a sole trader, an accountant who specialises in advising people who are starting out can help you create these documents. If you run a business, they can also help you with other important first steps, including:

Be prepared to answer lots of questions and be challenged — a good accountant will unpick your documents and ideas to get a true reading on the financial health of your business.

Don’t be surprised if your accountant or lawyer asks to check your ID.

Don’t be surprised if your accountant or lawyer asks to check your ID.

Common mistakes

Common mistakes
  • Only seeking help when your situation gets bad — seeing an expert early on might help prevent financial trouble in the first place.
  • Not seeking advice from an accountant when you’re making big business decisions.
  • Sticking with an accountant who is not the right fit for you — it’s important to find an accountant you trust and who has experience working with businesses like yours.
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