When Does Proactive Planning Work?

window-washer-30554I recently wrote a post about accountants providing proactive advice to clients. The point I made in that post is: it’s not nearly as easy to give proactive advice to clients as the “experts” and critics say.

Most business clients the average accountant deals with are Joe the Window Washer types. They want to run their business and mostly be left alone.

But obviously not all clients are Joe the Window Washer. For some clients, proactive planning is not just a “want” but a legitimate need.

Who are those clients?

They Have Staff Doing Most of the Work

Clients who benefit most from proactive planning are those where the owner is not the one in the trenches doing the work every single day. The owner has employees who do the day-to-day work.

If we use Joe the Window Washer: this would be like Joe hiring crews to wash the windows and hiring a foreman to oversee the crews while Joe hangs up his squeegee and doesn’t wash windows himself anymore.

These types of owners have more time to do things such as meet with accountants because they have staff in place to do the day-to-day work of serving customers.

These types of owners probably have more money to spend on making changes because they’re already shelling out thousands of dollars a month in payroll (thus implying that they have positive cash flow).

These types of owners probably are more inclined to change the way the business operates, because they have managers in place to help facilitate the change.

What About the Typical Main-Street Type of Business?

Like I talked about in my first post on this subject, the typical Joe the Window Washer main-street business often neither needs nor wants proactive planning from their accountant — they just want the work done. Usually that means preparing the tax return.

In a few cases, I’ve had success with proactive planning with the Joes of the world. In those cases, Joe decided that he wants to take his business to the next level and he knows it’s going to take an investment of time and money, and he’s willing to make that investment.

More to come in future posts, but I’m curious to know what other accountants and business owners think about this topic. Feel free to leave comments below or send me an e-mail at jason@dinesentax.com.