Amy Northard, CPA, has a passion for helping small business owners manage their finances and accounting so they can focus on growing their business. She also loves teaching accounting basics to online entrepreneurs who are just starting out. We were lucky enough to have her on this episode of Worth It, where we talk all about her CPA firm, what a CPA does, and when a creative biz owner (like yourself) might need to bring a CPA onboard.
[01:48] Amy’s journey as a CPA
[04:01] How Amy formed a niche making accounting easy for business owners to understand
[06:05] Why finding experts who are “wired” for their work is so important
[11:16] The nuances that come with serving entrepreneurs and business owners
[13:17] Signs it might be time to hire a CPA
[14:12] The difference between a bookkeeper and a CPA
[15:33] What to look for in a CPA
[18:28] The difference between a CPA and a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™
[22:11] Who Amy’s Be Your Own CFO course is right for
[24:01] The benefits of keeping it in the family
[26:23] What Amy wants to do in her “revivement”
[29:21] What’s next for Amy and her CPA firm
Amy is one of those rare breeds who loves taxes, following processes, and managing small business finances. She started her relationship with accounting in high school when her dad encouraged her to take classes, and the rest is history. But when she received her CPA designation and started working in a bigger firm, she quickly realized that working in a cubicle and doing the same work day in and day out wasn’t filling her up.
So, like a true entrepreneur, Amy started looking into starting her own CPA firm. As she started attracting her own clients, she quickly realized that there was a real need in the small business space. When it came to finances, creative entrepreneurs and biz owners were really struggling to understand their finances and basic accounting principles. In fact, traditional accounting “speak” was downright overwhelming to them… so Amy sought to find ways to help.
Today, she works with creative entrepreneurs and biz owners all over the US navigate taxes and set up bookkeeping systems so they can get back to the part of the business they love – the creative part. Of course, we talk all about when our listeners might want to hire a CPA and what a CPA even is because we know a lot of you are too afraid to ask that question 😏
If you’re running your own business, you wear a lot of hats. From admin assistant to head sales rep, you do it all. And that probably means you’re also managing your finances. Keeping track of invoices, expenses, and revenue can be quite a bit of work, especially when you’re first getting started and trying to learn the ropes. And as your business scales, the stakes get even higher. In this episode, Amy shares her CPA insights on when business owners should hire a CPA, and what milestones they should be on the lookout for. These include when:
Of course, if you know you avoid financials, hate tracking expenses, and don’t know the first thing about setting up your systems for getting paid, you might want to consider a CPA from the start of your business. However, Amy knows that there’s a ton of value in DIYing it while you get a grasp on your business’s finances so you know exactly what you need when it comes to hire a CPA.
But what is a CPA, and what can they do for you?
One thing that happens a lot with business + money is that terms get confused. In Amy’s world, those terms are often “CPA” and “bookkeeper.” So what’s the difference? As Amy explained in the episode, bookkeepers track your cash flow. They categorize your income and expenses and make sure that what’s in your accounts and statements align with what you’re reporting. The more transfers, expenses, employees, and general complexity you have in your business, though, the more you might need a CPA.
CPAs are Certified Public Accountants and they can do a wide range of accounting services. While each CPA has their own process and preferred services they offer, you can find a CPA that offers anything from tax preparation and financial statements to payroll and audits. In some cases, business owners only talk to their CPA around tax time, but many CPAs (like Amy, cough cough) are available year-round for things like:
Amy also explained that, depending on a CPA’s fee structure, you may charge a specific fee for all of your accounting needs or you may be billed for what you need each month or quarter. It’s important to find a CPA that bills the way that makes sense for your business, and who is available when you need.
And as we like to say, a CPA is just part of your well-rounded biz team. If you’re scaling your business, you probably need a CPA — and if you want to build long-term security with your business income, you might also want a CFP® (that’s us!).
As we’ve mentioned before, there are plenty of professionals you can hire to help you make the most of your business revenue and income, both from a business and personal perspective. While a CPA like Amy is a great resource when it comes to accounting and financials within your business, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ sort of “pick up” where a CPA’s certification stops.
That’s because, to be a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, you have to know a lot about tax planning, retirement, insurance, and long-term financial goals. A CPA can definitely help you set up the structures and processes within your business to help you reach those goals, but a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional is the one who will help you make it happen. CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals will also help you with things like:
Basically, they work together to make sure you have a healthy financial life now and in the future. Depending on your individual business and financial goals, you may benefit from working with one or both of these professionals. If you’re in the market for a CPA, we highly recommend checking out Amy’s CPA firm and services at amynorthardcpa.com. If hiring a CPA isn’t in the books for you right now, you can also check out her DIY course, Be Your Own CFO.
And if you’re interested in how a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (or two) can help you, you can take our fit quiz to see if we can work together.
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