Entrepreneurs Anonymous

Hit The Books

An accountant can keep your business in check.

Think twice before hitting the books--your business's books, that is. "Everybody thinks [accounting software] is perfect. Many people don't know the rules you can run afoul of or the things you can take advantage of," says Mary Lou Pier, a CPA and owner of Chicago accounting firm Pier & Associates Ltd. For example, will it benefit your business to hire employees or independent contractors? What tips can benefit you during tax season? An accountant has these answers and more.

Pier stresses the importance of good communication with your accountant: "Are you getting answers you feel comfortable with?" she asks. "Do you understand them? Are they responsive to your needs?"

Once you choose an accountant, you can either outsource all your accounting to him or her or bring in a part-time accountant once or twice a week to check your books, write out checks and do invoicing. You can keep records using accounting software, but make sure you have your accountant review them periodically to make sure no mistakes have been made. Says Pier, "Your accounting system should work like clockwork."

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This article was originally published in the October 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Entrepreneurs Anonymous.

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