Choosing the right accountant for your business can be a daunting and time-consuming task that many personal trainers often overlook. However, if you want to keep accurate records of your financial dealings, pay taxes correctly and avoid any fines from mistakes in bookkeeping, then this decision is important.
A lousy accountant will only make things more difficult as they may not understand the nuances of what you do as a fitness professional, or they may have outdated knowledge about how different aspects of accounting work. Here are some tips to help you choose the best fit available so you don't have any regrets down the line.
Full-Time Accountant Or Advisory ServiceThe first step is to identify whether you need a full-time accountant or an advisory service. This will depend on the size of your business and what kind of financial expertise you require.
If you're a self-employed personal trainer with some income from a range of clients, you might be okay with using an accounting software to keep on top of your records then an accountant to submit your tax return. However, if you're in a partnership, work with multiple trainers, or run your facility and a company, hiring an accountant will be an excellent investment for your fitness business.
In addition, by meeting with your accountant regularly, they can advise on any changes in legislation that might affect your business and make sure everything runs smoothly within the company itself. Essential things like payroll and IR35 could fall through the cracks without their input, so don't underestimate its importance.
Industry Knowledge and ExperienceAccountants often specialise in specific industries, but even if they don't, you'd like to work with someone who will have an understanding of what it means to manage a fitness business, whether you're a sole trader or a company.
Ideally, you'd like to choose an accountant who has experience working with businesses in the fitness industry. This will ensure that they understand the unique financial challenges and opportunities of running a fitness business. Alternatively, find someone prompt on doing their research, who is keen to learn as much about your business' finances as they can and are happy to take the lead in managing your books.
Location, Location, LocationWhen choosing the right accountant for your fitness business, you should consider where they're located. If there are no offices in your area, it could be challenging to meet with them regularly. It may also limit their availability when you need help or advice about something specific during an audit.
This point is particularly relevant for local personal trainers, studio and gym owners but even if you're an online fitness coach, you might prefer sorting your business admin in person with your accountant. What's more important, though, is that they are fully versed in the tax laws of your country or state.
What Services Do They Offer?Find out what services they offer. Some accountants will only do bookkeeping, and others who provide advice about how to set up your company's financial structure, for example, in terms of whether you should be a limited or unlimited liability business.
Some may even specialise in specific areas like online businesses or help you make tax allowances where possible. It won't always be the same accountant who does all these things, so finding one with expertise across several sectors can help prevent any overlap.
RecommendationsOnce you've identified what you need from an accountant, it can be helpful to ask around your network for recommendations. Other local businesses or personal trainers will have had dealings with different firms and might be able to point you in the right direction. Checking out reviews online on local accountants or accountants for personal trainers is also a good idea. This gives you an overview of how previous clients felt about the service provided.
Speak to Multiple AccountantsMeet with at least two or three accountants before making your decision. This will give you a chance to assess whether they are the right fit for your business and see if they understand what it is that you do.
Once you have a few accountants in mind, setting up interviews is crucial. This is your opportunity to ask them questions and get a feel for what they would be like as your business partner. Some things you may want to inquire about include their experience with the fitness industry, turnaround time on filings and audits, rates, and how often they'd be available for consultation (both in-person and remotely).
Estimate CostsGet an estimate of costs. This may seem like an unnecessary step, but it's important to know what you're getting into financially and how much the accountant will charge for their services. They might offer a free consultation, so take advantage of this and ask as many questions as you can so you have a good understanding of what they will do for your money.
TrustIt's important to feel comfortable with your accountant. After all, you will be sharing very personal and confidential information with them. Trust is key! But how can you trust someone you just met?
Just like when your clients approach you, they don't know much about you. When you speak with an accountant, you'll be the client. It's their job to provide you with the information and confidence to help you. Also, you can use external sources to learn as much about them as you can.
That includes the already mentioned recommendations and reviews. You can also ask them if they are licensed with a professional body like AAT or CPAA. You'd also like to ensure that they're insured. This will protect you if something goes wrong. Errors can happen, so it's best to be secure.
More Than Crunching NumbersLevels of experience and education will differ between accountants, just like personal trainers. Some are the best at crunching numbers, and others have expert knowledge of tax law and financial planning.
A good accountant will give you advice on how best to utilise your money so that when filing time comes around each year, you know exactly what steps need to be taken. For example, would it be more tax efficient to pay in to a pension or to pay yourself a little extra now.