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A good bookkeeper or accountant can help you at various stages of your business. The best time to hire accounting help is before your doors are even open. Here are some of the ways that this kind of assistance can ensure your success.

When you’re just starting out, for example, you may want to get some financing. A bookkeeper can help you with the financial documents necessary in your business plan. Many times, entrepreneurs are great at coming up with an idea, preparing the marketing and business strategies, but not at creating spreadsheets. But that financial information is critical for loan approval.

Taxes are another time when you can use the help of an accountant. Better than waiting until the taxes are due, however, it’s much better if you enlist the help of a bookkeeper regularly so your accounts are up-to-date. This will make filing taxes much easier and faster.

In addition, if the accounting of your business is current, your bookkeeper can advise you ahead of time of any potential problems. This way, you can better plan for any issues that may come up, rather than be caught off-guard when it’s going to be harder to fix. For example, if you need to hire more employees, change your suppliers, or your utility bills are skyrocketing, your bookkeeper will be the first to know.

The reality is, business owners need to focus on the big picture: getting clients and running the company. The financial records often get left undone or rushed through at the last minute because, on the surface, they don’t seem to be critical to the day-to-day operations. At the very least, customer service and sales seem more immediate. If left undone, however, you may see your financial picture too late.

When you’re thinking about buying a new building, expanding your company, or acquiring a new business, these are also times when accounting help can be critical. Having a really clear view of your cash flow and projections gives you vital information to determine the feasibility of growth. It’s also important if you’re thinking about selling and need help with valuation.

Assistance from a bookkeeper is going to be important at all phases of your business before you even have your first customer. In the beginning, though, there are part-time solutions until you’re ready to have one on staff full-time. Rather than think you can’t afford this kind of help, remember that it can actually save you money right from the start.