Why should you find an accountant? Because the relationships we develop for our business and professional lives—such as with an accountant—can help us grow as business owners.

Why should you find an accountant? Because the relationships we develop for our business and professional lives—such as with an accountant—can help us grow as business owners.

In both our personal and professional lives, it is vital to cultivate meaningful relationships. In both areas, some relationships will be easier to build, while others will need some work.

Depending on the size of your massage therapy business, you may have a relationship with an attorney. Likewise, many business owners have an ongoing relationship with their bankers. However, while many people may acknowledge the importance of having a tax accountant, many do not make time in their schedule to develop a working relationship with one.

Choose a Tax Accountant

If you do not already have a tax accountant you like working with, the first step would be to find a new one. There are several things to consider when looking for a good tax accountant.

• Rely on your network and get referrals. Find out the reason for the referral. Why does your referral like this particular tax accountant? What makes this tax accountant so wonderful? This knowledge will be critical in starting the relationship off on a solid footing.

• Look at the prospective tax accountant’s website. You might get enough information on here to decide if this will be a good match for you and your massage business.

• Always interview the potential tax accountant before working with them. During this interview, make inquiries about their fee structure and the different services they offer. Will they represent you if you get audited?

This is your chance to also inquire about the office structure. Will the tax accountant be the primary contact working with you, or will you be working with other team members within their organization?

The main reason for developing a relationship with your tax accountant is to get to know them and see if they are the right fit for you and your massage business. While a tax accountant may have all the qualifications you are looking for, working together may not be productive if their communication style is different from yours. You lose the feeling of partnership when there is a lack of communication. 

Go Beyond Taxes

Your tax accountant can be an essential way to access networks that will help your massage business grow. A good tax accountant will often have developed relationships with bankers, attorneys and other specialists who may be of service to your massage business.

However, how will the accountant refer these specialists to you or speak to your character as a business owner if they only hear from you once a year? Frequent communication will help your accountant know what other services you may need.

Developing an ongoing relationship with your tax accountant is also beneficial when it comes to planning. Their assessment of the massage industry’s trends, market movement, entity structure, succession planning or business valuations can be unbelievably valuable to your massage business at any stage of its growth. 

Avoid This Mistake

Many massage therapists mistakenly assume that the only meaningful interaction with their tax accountant is during tax season. While taxes are the fundamental role of a tax accountant, having regular conversations has immense value. These interactions throughout the year allow the tax accountant to better understand your massage business and develop a tax strategy to better meet your goals.  

I tell all my massage therapist clients that every massage business is different; you may all sell similar services; however, every business’s financial goals are unique, leading to unique tax strategies.

With enough time during the year, your tax accountant can help you figure out how to minimize your tax liability. These conversations should entail your financial goals and any major decisions you make relating to your massage business.

You should also be leveraging your relationship with your tax accountant to gain an understanding of the ever-changing tax code and how it may affect your massage business. Often some of the changes may affect your business in a positive way. With ongoing communication with your tax accountant, you may be able to correct and adjust your financial goals to benefit from new tax laws. If you wait until tax time, it may be too late to course-correct.

How Do I Initiate an Ongoing Conversation with My Tax Accountant?

There is no one right or wrong way to do this; the following action items will allow you to develop a systematic and intentional relationship.

• Start asking questions. Often, this is the easiest step, and can begin with the initial interview. When you start your relationship, get into the habit of asking questions, regardless of how simple you think the question might be.

A question as simple as “As you go through my financials, do you see any areas where I can implement changes to allow my business to minimize my tax liability?” or “Is there any tax benefit on waiting until next year or next month to purchase new equipment?” Once your tax accountant knows you are proactive, they will likely be willing to bring up more ways outside of the “standard” to assist you.

• Map out your financial future with the help of your tax accountant. Have on paper what your action plan looks like and bring it to them for their input.

• Schedule a time to sit with them outside of tax season. It may be hard for them to find time to meet during tax season, but once taxes are done or prior is a great time to schedule a consultation with them. Make it a habit to schedule these visits periodically.

Depending on the size of your massage business, two or three visits a year may make sense.

Like any good relationship, you must do your part for it to work.

Form Your Financial Team

Maintaining good financial records is an essential factor for your financial team, which your tax accountant should be part of. Your tax accountant cannot do their job effectively if your financial data is not correct or you, as a business owner, are not clear on the financial goals of your massage business.

Keep your financial team updated on any significant financial decisions you make. Your tax accountant should be able to advise you on the consequences of your decisions, including weighing in on any tax implications these decisions might have.

When you have ongoing communication, you begin to value your tax accountant’s services and opinions. They become a voice in your financial conversation.

Lozelle Mathai

About the Author

Lozelle Mathai, MBA, CFEI, is a financial accountant with over 18 years of experience in the field of financial management and accounting. She is the owner of Healthy Bodies of Finance, a division of Closing Your Books LLC. The Body of Accounting is an accounting consultancy firm that educates massage and bodywork business owners on how to manage, maintain and understand their business finances, including how to determine the best structure for their business.