The above quote struck a chord with me. I always remembered wanting to be an accountant. But I don’t remembering receiving an accountant “dress-up” kit as a present when I was a kid. I can make two guesses as to why no one wants to “play” accountant. One, toy makers didn’t see it as a profitable product line. Two, one cannot “play” accountant, you have to be one. Accountants and CPAs are expected to be ethical, knowledgeable, reliable, and financial experts. It’s hard to put all of that in box for $14.99. It’s also hard to pick an accountant from a list or a Google search.
I recently went to an intimate breakfast networking event consisting of 14 people. After everyone gave brief introductions, we chatted amongst ourselves about our businesses and our goals. Another entrepreneur told me something I couldn’t believe. Before his current accountant (which he gloats about), he had fired 4 other ones. As an accountant, that is a red flag in some cases and a possible warning sign of a difficult client. His decision to change accountants could have been prompted by disputes of fees, services rendered, organizational goals (also known as creative differences in the music industry), or just bad communication. But after talking to him, I knew he was not a “bad” client. He just didn’t know what to look for in an accountant.
I have set a clear set of expectations for presenting myself to potential clients and servicing current clients. My 6 expectations are:
1). Understand the facts of the person, family, or business and use those facts to provide or create services within my scope of professional experience and education.
2). Show commitment by honoring all scheduled appointments and meeting deadlines.
3). Become educated about the factors (social, economic, or financial) that impact the client.
4). Effectively communicate my understanding of the client’s position and create attainable goals together.
5). Maintain a relentless level of motivation to stay educated, informed, and trained due to changes in the accounting industry, the financial climate, and technology.
6). Be genuine and sincere to the point that the client understands that not only do I work for them, I advocate for them.
But what if, as an entrepreneur, a small business or an individual, you do not meet someone like me? Would you be able to spot a good accountant or CPA from one that sort of lacks luster?
Here are some things I suggest you do when “shopping” for an accountant:
1). Ask another business owner, entrepreneur, or someone you trust for a referral. Accountants and CPAs depend on word of mouth advertising.
2). Do an informal background check- Search for the professional on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Read reviews and see what they are putting on the web.
3). Develop a list of questions to ask. May I suggest a list similar the ones listed below?
4). Bring your most current financial statements or receipts to the first meeting. Explain why you are coming to them and that you need help understanding your finances better. Ask them if they see any areas where improvement is needed and ask them to explain why. If they cannot identify any areas that may need attention, just leave.
5). Ask for references. Any accounting or finances professional should have contact information of at least 3 people who are willing to vouch for them.
There is an article on Entrepreneur.com that also outlines expectations you should set for a bookkeeper. It is also listed in the free resource center of my website. Personally, I think that these expectations are applicable to anyone in the financial industry that you or your business may come across. This includes but not limited to, accountants, bookkeepers, business bankers, CPAs, financial advisors, insurance agents, and tax preparation personnel.
Do you have a horror story you would like to share about dealing with an accountant or some other financial professional? I would LOVE to hear it!
Thanks for reading!!!
Jéneen R. Perkins is a freelance accountant and consultant serving entrepreneurs, families and small businesses. She prides herself in being fluent in English instead of “Accountant-ese”.
I started my blog with the expectation that I would provide relevant information to my target market. I also wanted to establish myself as an expert in my field, and let that the world know that I am approachable. But is there more I should be doing? I really don’t know the answer to that question. I am constantly reading tips, articles, and e-books to find ways to be a better blogger. One of the articles I read an article called 5 Tips for Starting a Blog gave a great synopsis of blogging.. The key points of the article were:
1. Learn the basics of “SEO”
2. Look at other good blogs
3. Write great content
4. Market your blog
5. Have a call to action- Once you start getting traffic, make sure you know what to do with it. Get readers onto a mailing list? Sell some products? Arrange a meeting?
I have learned the basics of SEO to the point I am self-sufficient. I also read other blogs. I write content based on my experiences managing my own personal finances, as well as FAQs I answer for my clients. Now all I have to do is market my blog well and have a great call to action. I am the type of entrepreneur that learns that knowledge AND real life experience. So I decided to reach out a successful blogger from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
I interviewed Tamara Horton, creator of Tammy Talks to gain some insight as to how to be a better blogger.
What inspired you to become an entertainment blogger?
It started as online storage for me. I would upload pictures and stories that I wanted to show friends or family members so I wouldn’t forget and so I wouldn’t clog my phone with pictures. Little did I know, there were people from all over were checking out the blog as well and actually subscribing to the RSS feed. So I began to take it a little more serious and started posting things I thought a vaster group of people would be interested in.
I am new to the world of bloggers. Since starting in 2009, what some challenges you faced and overcome as a blogger.
The biggest challenge any blogger will face is gaining an audience. Blogs are a dime a dozen. So trying to win people over and convince them to check out and trust your blog is the hard part.
Your blog has grown tremendously. I want to grow my blog to increase my subscribers and generate leads. Can you offer some tips?
1. PROMOTE PROMOTE PROMOTE! Promoting your blog is the only way to gain subscribers and views. You have to think outside the box and be innovative with how you get the word out.
2. Stay on topic…if you have a specific genre you want to cover stick to that. You don’t want a post about a Bible lesson and then right underneath there is a Lil Wayne video.
3. Be consistent. If you are a weekly blog…update weekly. If you are taking time away from your blog let your readers know. You don’t want people coming to your blog and noticing you haven’t posted in weeks….chances are they won’t return .
Some people believe that there is a lot of money to be made by doing blogging. Is that true?
Any hobby can be lucrative so yes you can make money from blogging. But, it’s not as easy as people assume. Find advertisers is relatively easy, but you really only get paid based on how many people not only come to your blog, but how many people actually click the advertisers links.
I noticed that on your website that you have a “blogroll” that list other websites featuring other bloggers and websites that report on the entertainment industry. Why did you decide to cross promote?
Cross promotion is one way to show support. Bloggers borrow stories from each other all the time. I’ve had some stories and pictures I’ve posted and have the rights to posted on NecoleBitchie and TheYBF so why not return the love and list their urls on my site as other dope sites to check out. Also not every blog is going to post every single entertainment news piece that hits the airwaves, so it gives people an option to check out another site where they may find news that I don’t have posted.
What did you do to market your blog? How often do you post to your social media outlets?
I initially relied heavily on word of mouth. When I started my blog it wasn’t big in Milwaukee, and not a lot of people knew of blogs and exactly what they were. SEO (search engine optimization), Twitter, FB, and various forums are mainly what I use to promote. My personal Twitter (@TammyTalks) as well as my blogs Twitter account (@TammyTalksBlog) are set up to auto tweet a new story right away when I put it on the site, and again every 4 to 6 hours based on the popularity on the site.
You have an online store of Tammy Talks products and you recently became a contributor to VH1. What is next on the horizon for TammyTalks?
Just continuing to work on TammyTalksTV on YouTube, and preparing to launch my radio show next spring in addition to booking more celebrities for exclusive interviews.
Any advice you want to provide to me and other aspiring bloggers out there?
Make sure you have the time to blog and the desire to really become a blogger; a lot of people see the glamour in blogging and realize the effort and time that goes into it. Double and triple check your story before you post it. You want to maintain your credibility as to attract more fans. If you constantly have to post retractions on a story because you found out it was false it lowers your credibility thus causing people not to trust the information you post.
I am writing this post for one reason only: I have to make sacrifices for my new budget. As much as I love going to True Identity Hair Salon, I have to change my home hair care game. I was even debating with myself as to whether or not, should let this expense go. After all, a girl has to keep her beauty a top priority. But I came to the realization that I need to spend my money wisely these days after reading the September 2012 issue of Essence magazine. One of my favorite reads of the magazine is the Work & Wealth sections. September’s issue included a set of statistics that made my jaw drop. Here’s a picture of the article.
I am still trying to figure out why apparel products and services are ranked higher than healthcare and telephone services. But I digress. The picture prompted me to ask my long-time friend and hair stylist, Lea Byrd- Petersen what I can do to maintain my tresses along with my budget. Here is how the conversation went:
After losing my full-time gig, I had to redo my finances. Unfortunately, I decided to put a hold on my use of your services. My appearance matters to me but I can only afford so much. So I have some questions about transitioning from the salon to self-care at home.
1. What are some affordable hair care products that one can use at home (i.e. shampoo, conditioner, styling products, tools)?
When caring for your hair at home, don’t buy products based on price. You want to buy quality products that will do what they say they will. Visit Trade Secret, for basic hair care products. Pick up a bottle of KeraCare Hydrating Detangling Shampoo ($8-$10,) and Humecto Creme Conditioner ($10-14). For dry hair, brittle or damaged hair, Mizani Renew Strength Fortifying Shampoo ($10-13) and Mizani Renew Strength Fortifying Gelee Conditioner ($10-13) is good to try. For dry, itchy, flaky scalp, Neutrogena T/Gel (or T/Sal), for extreme scalp build up) shampoo is great ($8 each). Got stubborn itchiness, use Neutrogena Stubborn Itch ($8). These are some of my favorites but start with small bottle, use them completely and then determine how it worked on your hair.
2. Well, I bought some products based on price, and coupons! But I had a bunch of BOGO free coupons, and I never let a coupon go to waste if it is something that I need. So I purchased a variety of products for about $45 normally priced at $84. How many times should I use each product to see how it works with my hair?
Use the product at least three times to see how your hair reacts to it. If you begin to have issues with hair breakage or itchy scalp, contact your stylist.
3. How often should one wash their hair?
Wash your hair no more than once a week but try not to go more than two weeks. For dry ,damaged, flaky hair/scalp you'll see the best results with weekly shampoos (be sure to condition EVERY TIME you wash).
4. I know you don't recommend it. What are the best and affordable products to use for relaxers and coloring? And how often should these products should be used?
It is always, always, ALWAYS best to visit a stylist for chemical services because these are prime areas that cause serious damage to your hair if not done correctly or over done. Always visiting the salon (at least at True Identity lol) for your relaxer services means you'll be getting regular trims which is included)
5. What are some do's and don'ts that will help women avoid coming to a stylist to fix a hair fiasco?
The best thing you do for your hair is keep it moisturized. And doing so doesnt mean it has to be greasy. Ginseng Wonder 8 Oil Mist is good for normal to thick hair and can be used once a week. Joico Smooth Styling Oil (as well as the entire Smooth line from Joico) is very light weight and good for all hair types. Satin pillowcases, bonnets or scarves should be used every night. For easy maintenance and upkeep wear styles that can be wrapped a night as often as possible. After shampooing /conditioning your hair apply your moisturizer and blow dry with dryer set on warm not hot (or use a hood dryer).
6. Do you have any additional advice or comments?
Hair tips are always being posted on the fb page facebook.com/TruYouId
As stated before, I tried a variety a products. Below is the list of the products I purchased with all those BOGO coupons. These products are listed in order of my opinion of what works the best.
Suave Professionals Natural Almond and Shea Butter Shampoo and Conditioner ($4 each)
Dove Damage Therapy Shine Boost Shampoo and Intensive Repair Conditioner ($5 each)
Suave Professionals Color Protection Shampoo and Conditioner ($4 each)
TRESemmé Color Revitalize Shampoo and Conditioner ($4 each)
Are you done being upset yet?
Unfortunately, being responsible means doing the hard stuff some times. Now you have to implement a plan that will fit your new circumstances. This is the hardest part, decide what expenses get cut and who gets paid first.
If you have been reading my blog, first of all I want to thank you. My readers have been a ear to my money concerns and triumphs. But if you remember, I started this blog as financial journal about my financial position in life. My first blog post was about the plan I put together and how I would implement it. Now you will see how I reconstructed it. I also included some tips that could help others who are not in the exact situation I was in. The numbering continues from the previous blog post.
6). Start fresh: Get some coffee (or whatever), and a computer.
After what I went through the day before, I was in no condition to create a job search agent or crunch numbers (weird huh?). So I got up at my usual time, powered up my trusty laptop and turned on my tea kettle. As the kettle warmed, I began to think of where I want to work and what I want to do there. I jotted down some notes. For some reason, actually writing my thoughts versus typing helped me crystallize my ideas. Then I pulled out that resume I updated yesterday and began to research the market. Salary.com is a great site to get background information of job you may want and also your monetary worth. Set up job searches (or agents) on some of the site I mentioned in the previous blog post. After all, that is what everyone else is going to tell you do anyway.
7). Decide to pay Paul, Peter, or no one at all.
When I began this blog, I had a very rose colored view of my financial future. I had a timeline set for my financial freedom and plan I was actually living up to everyday. Now it’s black and white, not even gray. Some stuff will have to go and I will have to make some sacrifices.
I was originally on a plan where I paid debt with the highest interest rate first. I paid balances down and had only two credit cards left. Now I have about half of the income I was accustomed to. So I have to try a new budgeting technique. I decided to try the 50-30-20 method. There are two reasons why I selected this method: 1).It seems feasible and forces one to make some sacrifices and 2). I love the work of Liz Weston! The 50-30-20 budget states that your necessities should total about 50% of your after tax income, while your wants total 30% and debt repayment and savings amount to 20%. My income is now $1,236, therefore my new budget limits are $618(50%), $371 (30%), and 247 (20%). I will have to see how this will work in the month of November 2012.
8). Turn some skills into cash flow
While you are looking for a new gig, why not create a new part-time job for yourself. Everyone on the planet possesses a skill or talent that is beneficial to someone else. Why not get paid for that talent? Are you great with kids? Maybe you should look into nanny positions. Are you a math whiz? Consider becoming a tutor. Athletic and love sports? Coach a sports team in your community.
I am good with creating budgets and scheduling bill payments, etc. So, I added a new service for my business: money management. I priced the service to be affordable for low and moderate income individuals and families. I also love telling people what they should do with their money LOL!
9). Attend a Professional Networking Event
Even though you do not have a job, it does not mean you cannot mingle with other professionals. You represent yourself now. Get some business cards printed for about $10 at Vistaprint.com. In Milwaukee, there a few organizations that offer some FREE networking events. My favorite one is FUEL Milwaukee. But others I am going to check out this month are Translator and Northwoods Software’s Fall Business Kickoff.
10). Do Something Fun!
If you are not ready to face the world yet, stay in and have a movie night (preferably a funny one!). But if you are suffering from cabin fever, take $50 and go out and have some fun. After all, you deserve it!
"Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is" is a journal about real life experiences and answers to tough tax questions posed to Jéneen R. Perkins, Owner of Eclat Enterprises, LLC