How to Help a Client Start a Business

One of the best first steps an entrepreneur can take is to talk with an accountant about their business ideas.  As accountants, we have a unique perspective on success. We look at the numbers without the passion and emotion that often accompanies a “great idea for a new business.”

Remember, small business and entrepreneurial clients are ideal clients for any small business firm.  When it comes to tax season they require their personal and business taxes to be done in concert with one another.  Additionally, as their entreprise grows, there will be opportunity for you to help them with Quickbooks, payroll and other financial needs.  If you set them on the right course and position yourself as a trusted advisor, your relationship will continue to grow with their business.

Most entrepreneurs are “building the plane as they learn how to fly it,” and having the expertise of a tax professional is critical to ensure they have a short term plan to start bringing in some money, break even in the first year, and eventually build a healthy balance sheet.  Here are a few key discussion topics to review with your client.

Current Finances

Can your client financially support himself or herself?  Since most startups take six months to get up and running, a new business owner should have living expenses for this time.  

Health Insurance

With the rising cost of health insurance, this should be a top priority.  If your client has a significant other with access to health insurance through a job then this is not a concern.


All startups need cash for initial marketing, staff and inventory.  Does your client need a loan, want a partner or have a partner? The right financial plan can make or break a great idea so ensure that they are aware of options and possible red flags.

Business Plan

Some written documentation is always a good idea when starting a business.  Banks, lenders, and even venture capitalists will want to see a formal plan.  A business plan will allow your client to focus on the important aspects of his/her dream to ensure success.  

Marketing Plan

A logo, website, and even print materials may be appropriate for your client but require funding and expertise.  A well thought out plan early on can save money and lead them down the path to success.

Hit the Pavement

Attending networking and trade shows are phenomenal ways to get a product or service in the hands of ideal clients.  Entrepreneurs should interact with others through samples and giveaways which will help gain reviews and customer insight as well as allow for the testing of pricing structures.

Your experience, in both growing your accounting firm and helping clients, will enable you to look at a client’s new business ideas and offer sound advice.  As the accountant, your job is to ensure your client gets in the black as soon as possible and sets a solid foundation for growth and profit in the future.