• IngramLawFirm

The Attorney vs. The Accountant

The world of business is at times cutthroat and feels like you are going through your day to day tasks like you're in a never ending loop of Hunger Games. Competitors, employees, support staff, and professionals all have an opinion on how you run your business and the decisions you make. They are typically not shy about voicing these opinions at the same time they are unwilling or unable to make the leap into entrepreneurship on their own.

The key to survival to have a key team of individuals with you who can help you along the way. The family who you interact with daily, weekly or hourly; the support staff who helps your business stay afloat when you may be looking at bigger tasks, and your professional team who helps you make wise decisions. When the team runs like a well oiled machine, you feel like you could be MVP of the Super Bowl. When the team has a loose wheel, you feel like the 0-16 losers who can't even dream of the Super Bowl. (Have you noticed we are closing in on the big game). So how do you know that you have chosen the right team and not the loose wheel? Obviously you can't do much about your family, you're sort of stuck with them. The support staff you hire should reflect the core values of the business. I know this is easier said than done, but you should have a clear picture of how you work, what you need to work fluidly and what culture you intend to create. If you do not, expect the support staff to be a high turnover and a difficult role to fill. Your professional team should follow the same investigative tools as your support staff. You have to understand who you want to work with, the personality that will be the best fit and the team that will either work collaboratively or stay in their own lanes. You need to know this before you hire anyone.

So why did I title this blog attorney vs. accountant.... well did I mention the big game. In all seriousness, the attorney and accountant are two of the most important players in your professional team. They each have their own roles, their own lanes. Some find it difficult to stay in their lane and work on the thing they do best. It's true that after you have done something for so long you think you know the right approach or that you can do it on your own. The unfortunate thing is that you never want to take that approach as a professional. First, I am licensed to practice law. I sat through 3 years of law school, took a grueling bar, and engage in hours of Continuing Legal Education training to keep my skills sharp and progress with the changes in law and the business environment. I am not a licensed accountant. I did not take math, I hate it to be quite honest. I do not keep up on every nuanced change to the tax code. I do not engage in anything related to accounting. I make this disclosure to my clients. Follow up with your accountant to make sure you have your financial bases covered.

Second, I understand the value of having different voices on the team. I think is important for business and company growth to hear various opinions and pathways. What is also important is that these various opinions are able to work cohesively with the business model. In doing this, you can't discount what the other person is saying or the effectiveness of their new approach. You also cannot do something you are not trained or licensed to do. I would never try to file taxes, an accountant should never give legal advice.

Third, the best professional team is the one who can recognize what they don't know and allow the other to do their job. The most refreshing thing I hear is, the attorney is the attorney, I'll set up all the tax documents, but they need to tell you how to protect yourself legally. While no one is perfect, yes even I make a mistake here or there, if there is some glaring misstep, it should be addressed, but not in a way that undermines the faith the business owner has in their professional team.

I chose this topic for the blog because most of us are interacting with accountants in the next few months. I assume, many of you will also be reviewing your legal structure, employee structure and contracts to make sure you're still on the right track. It is important to recognize what you need in your life to ensure that while every day may be the Hunger Games, you have people around you who lessen that burden, not add to it. If you like this approach, feel free to give us a call or click the schedule button on the website to chat with us further.

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