Small business is at the heart of the Texas Economy.
In Part 2 of this 2 part series, What Your Accountant Wants You To Know, we dig deep with San Antonio CPA, Debi Malone, who has been my accountant for 5 years. Today we cover her client pet peeves, her forecast for the recovery and solid advice for finding a CPA that is the right fit for your business.
This episode of Emerging Texas Strong is sponsored by Texas Mutual Insurance Company, a leading worker’s comp provider in Texas, and is a production of Earnest Media. If you are interested in sponsoring a heartful podcast focused on the journey of Texas business owners for a focused market audience email, contact@EmergingTexassStrong.co
Episode 9 Guests:
Debi Malone, CPA, P.C.
EPISODE 9 TRANSCRIPT:
TXMI Commercial: 00:00 Support for the Emerging Texas Strong podcast comes from Texas Mutual Insurance Company. A workers’ comp provider, committed to helping companies build a stronger, safer Texas.
Host, Linsey Li…: 00:10 On this episode of Emerging Texas Strong
D.A. Malone, CP…: 00:13 I’m old school. I think the reason I’m successful is because I want to know you. I want to look at you. I want to see your business. I want to walk through your office. It just that’s where I get satisfaction, not just seeing the paper. I tend to go to all my clients, offices. I want to see what they’re doing. And it just makes me feel good to know they’re doing it. You know, just… I love it.
Host, Linsey Li…: 00:40 Welcome back to Emerging Texas Strong, a growing collection of stories, lessons, and advice from small business owners in Texas, working hard to survive this pandemic economy. We follow a collection of businesses and weave their stories together. As we navigate a full season of big picture topics like disruptions in the supply chain, why Texas and opportunities to shake things up in your business model. In part two of this two-part series, what your accountant wants you to know? We dig deep with San Antonio CPA, Debbie Malone, who has been my accountant for five years. Today we cover her client pet peeves, her forecast for the recovery and solid advice for finding a CPA that’s the right fit for your business.
D.A. Malone, CP…: 01:26 Hello, my name is Debbie Malone. My business name is da Malone CPA PC.
Linsey Lindberg…: 01:33 Okay. This episode is called what your accountant wants you to know. So I want to ask you things like what are some of your pet peeves, but what are also some things that you want to tell all of your clients and all the small businesses out there, like do this, don’t skimp on these parts. You know, don’t cut these corners.
D.A. Malone, CP…: 01:53 I think for small businesses, to me, the most important as record-keeping and everybody gets just afraid of what do you mean? QuickBooks? That’s terrifying. There are some other good cash tool programs called Quicken, which is basically a computerized check book. If people would use that to start, just keep your account balance. I feel better about them running a business, but just, to never open their bank statements and just put deposits in and use their credit cards and write checks and then hope for the best? It doesn’t work. You really have to spend some time every month going through your records. And accountants don’t like it when people walk in with the shoe box of receipts, we look at you and go, okay, you want me to do your corporate tax return, but you don’t want me to charge you and you want to have an accurate return. It’s impossible unless we dig in and get every month’s bank statement and put it on an accounting program. And most people use QuickBooks. So I would say the most important thing is to keep your records straight, do a little bit of the homework. It seems people get overwhelmed that it’s so difficult. It’s not. I like it when small business owners, say a husband or a wife, whoever’s the owner utilizes the other partner to help. If one is out there doing and generating all the income and running the business, include them in, “Hey, can you help me get this in order every month?” Don’t wait till December. And then you’re trying to do 12 months worth of accounting. You’ll just get so frustrated. So discipline yourself, start from the beginning, get it right. And you’ll be so pleased to know when I ask, “how much did you spend on travel last year?” How much did you spend for gas? How much did you spend on supplies? And they can tell me the number other than, “I don’t know.”
Linsey Lindberg…: 03:59 It seems like there’s a lot of great tools right now that, you know, credit cards are doing end of year statements and they will divide stuff up into different categories for you. Is that not very helpful? Or do you think or is it at least a good step for people who are not necessarily good at it? Like, are there any little tips? Like I’ve heard people say use only one credit card for a business. And then when it divides things, at least you have some categories, right?
D.A. Malone, CP…: 04:28 If you’re not keeping records that would help, but if you’re running a business, you really need to have good books. And like, I can’t keep saying enough, it can be quick and it can be manual. You could do Excel, keep track of your deposits, keep track of your category expenses. At the end of the year, you have a master total 12 months, 12 months of deposits, 12 months of expenses, whether it’s with a credit card or checks, most people use just credit cards or debit cards or online banking. It just needs to be recorded by category. And you know this, if, unless you’re super sophisticated about downloading transactions, because you have experience with double, double downloading. So you have to be careful because it sounds so easy and it’s so it’s so quick to hit the button and say, oh, it says I can download my credit card into my QuickBooks. And then sometimes it double the entries. So you have to be careful.
Linsey Lindberg…: 05:24 Are there any good places to take a QuickBooks class or anything for people who are just newbies and beginners and don’t want to mess it up? Like I did when I first started,
D.A. Malone, CP…: 05:36 It’s better for small businesses to hire a bookkeeper. That’s familiar with it because there’s so many choices on that screen that you want to play with. And that’s where people get into trouble. Oh, I wanna use the accounts payable. Oh, I want to use the accounts receivable. But if you don’t know the proper accounting and entering, it’s going to mess up the books and then I have to, to fix it. And then it becomes a nightmare. So it’s better for small businesses that don’t want to do a tire, not me, but a bookkeeper that likes to do the entries and balances. And that’s why I’m saying it’s sometimes works well. If it’s the husband doing the small business, get your wife involved. Because a lot of times, I don’t know why women are really good bookkeepers. And I love it when they’re involved together. Because like I said, at the beginning of this, I know everything and if a wife askes me a question, I’ve always told the husband, I’m going to tell her because in this state it’s 50 50 and she gets the right to know anything. So don’t ask me to hide or not tell because that’s not how I operate. Full disclosure.
Linsey Lindberg…: 06:41 I love that; taking care of the families and the ladies. Is there anything for going forward, you would advise people to like stop what you’re doing?
D.A. Malone, CP…: 06:52 Be timely. Don’t bring your CPA, your records on March the 10th when your corporation is due March the 15th. If you’re an individual, don’t come on April 10th when it’s due April 15th. Cause you’re going to get a very grumpy, upset accountant, be respectful and get your things in on time.
Linsey Lindberg…: 07:14 What does on time mean?
D.A. Malone, CP…: 07:15 Two months before the due date. So if it’s due March 15th, January 15th, start getting it ready at the latest for me. Yeah.
Linsey Lindberg…: 07:25 So don’t even bring it in, in February.
D.A. Malone, CP…: 07:28 No, you can. I’m just saying, I really love you if you bring it in by January 30th. And by February 15th, I still like you. By March 1st… hmmm, I don’t know.
Linsey Lindberg…: 07:40 Not sure anymore. Um, but that’s specifically why I think it’s important to find an accountant who is not a big ‘ol… If you’re not a big corporation, if you are a small or medium-sized business, make sure you find an accountant fits you. Because when I lived in Austin and my company was much smaller back then…
D.A. Malone, CP…: 08:02 You went to a big firm.
Linsey Lindberg…: 08:04 I went to a firm. I Googled best accountants for small businesses and it sent me to a firm. And I didn’t know enough to know how little attention they were giving me and how poorly they were doing my books. I paid so much in taxes those years because they had the most junior person in their office working on my stuff.
D.A. Malone, CP…: 08:30 …and not asking you questions.
Linsey Lindberg…: 08:31 They pulled me in for meetings. And then I’d find bills for those meetings where it was based on the amount of time. And they spent 30 minutes asking me how the weather was, you know? And it was all these things that I realized that I was just a check at the end of the year.
D.A. Malone, CP…: 08:49 That makes me sad because it’s such a, there’s such a human part to it. Like I said, at the beginning, you’d get to know someone, everything about them, their taxes or their business records. And I remember when I first started in this business, it really bothered me how I was with a bigger firm. They would have the tax returns at the front desk for people to pick up. And I would always say, don’t, you need to explain it to them and tell them how they did for the year. You’re just going to hand them the folder and tell them where to sign and send the check. And they looked at me like, well, yeah, that’s how we’ve always done it. And I said, well, I don’t mind sitting with them and going over it with them because I just couldn’t understand how you could throw a tax return at someone say, sign here. Here’s my bill. And not go through it. And a lot of clients don’t care. I make them care. No you’re going to listen to my spiel. This is how you did this year. This is how you did last year. This is where you maybe can do better. You know, that’s what I like about accounting is not just doing the numbers, but again, the picture. But that’s how I’ve always been.
Linsey Lindberg…: 09:58 Are you optimistic for the recovery? Do you see a light at the end of the tunnel?
D.A. Malone, CP…: 10:02 The recovery is not going to happen in 2021. Normally it’s almost like starting your business over. It takes three years normally for a business to make it. So I would say probably three years, just wild guess. Just from experience, watching all of us start over. I’m a very optimistic, positive person. I’m like, let’s learn from this and tweak what we do to be better. And I find that the most positive thing of this whole experience is people are kinder. I know people are frustrated, but I also feel more kindness out there. So I’m just hopeful and positive that people will support each other when you like, I try to support local businesses because I know what it feels like to be a small business. So I’d rather go to the mom and pops than the big franchises. But even the franchises really are small people that bought into that. So don’t think they’re not helping a business by going to a franchise. It’s kind of contradictory to what I just said, but, we’ll see Linsey. It’s going to take a few years.
Linsey Lindberg…: 11:14 So obviously I think everybody’s going to hear this and they’re going to all want you to be their accountant now.
D.A. Malone, CP…: 11:21 No.
Linsey Lindberg…: 11:21 So, let’s take a second and can you give some advice on, if you are a small business in Texas and you are now convinced that it is time for you to have a fantastic accountant, too, what should they look for? What should they be out there asking what questions when they’re interviewing accountants? Because just, just so y’all know, you don’t have, it’s like a doctor. You don’t have to just go with the very first one that you happen to step in their office.
D.A. Malone, CP…: 11:50 Yeah, it is. It’s like bedside manner. Are they really interested in me? Are they going to look at me? Are they going to ask me the questions? Are they going to call the banker? Are they going to set up meetings with attorneys? Are they going to hold my hand and not charge me for every phone call and every fax and really invest in the person. I always make my money later. It’s because I really want my clients to do well. And sometimes I will not charge because they don’t have it, but I know eventually they will. And then they’re so happy to pay me, but it just brings me so much satisfaction to see small businesses succeed and be held. You can’t just say, okay, you opened a business, you really have to talk to them about bankers, lawyers, insurance, um, the payroll part, the bookkeeping part. So make sure you talk to someone that asks you all these questions. Like where are you banking? Where is your accounts at, and who’s your lawyer. And unfortunately we all need them. They are good business lawyers out there that you really do need.
Linsey Lindberg…: 12:54 One of the things I actually love so much about having a great accountant is also that they are tied in to business owners and, and professional people all across your city. They are a great resource for being able to connect to other dependable companies when you need a referral.
D.A. Malone, CP…: 13:16 Yeah. It really comes in handy for my other clients or family and friends. Do you know a good plumber? Well, I happen to have one, you know, that I help with their taxes or an electrician, or, and it’s a great support system to provide those names of people that I know are good at what they do.
Linsey Lindberg…: 13:35 So. Okay. Um, I think we’ve been doing really good at just talking in general about accountants and things. Is there anything else that are little, little, uh, hitches where people can get hung up if they’re not being careful because of COVID and the weirdness of what’s going on right now?
D.A. Malone, CP…: 13:55 I think still we’re uncertain and how they’re going to treat these loans that we’ve gotten grants are not taxable, but loans, the PPP loans. I have a feeling just, they may be taxable in the future. And then the SBA loans, only the interest part’s going to be deductible and you will have to pay those back. So everybody’s pretty much qualifying for them and getting them, you were really good at researching local San Antonio funds to help your business. I was so impressed by that because I don’t have the time to do that, to help my clients. So you finding, I think the city had the LiftFund.
Linsey Lindberg…: 14:38 Yeah. Yeah. I got a big LiftFund grant which saved the fall. It came at the best time and now I think it all had to be done by December 30th. So it worked because it was still Cares Act funded. I think it came out of that pot of money. Um, it all still has to be accounted for in the exact same way. And so I read all the fine print and saw the part that said, make sure you’re keeping fantastic records of everything that you are spending this money on, because we’re going to ask you to go ahead and verify all of it, send us all of the records and the documents back, and then show us specifically that everything you wrote on your grant application, if you said, here’s how I want to use this money. Bing, Bing, Bing, Bing, Bing, make sure that you do that because that’s part of the deal and the agreement that you signed. Um, I think it’s important to remember that even though with PPP, it’s been very generally kind of like thrown around very easily, like, oh, everybody’s eligible for it. We’re trying to make it easy to forgive. We’re trying to do this. Do not forget that every single one of these is still a contract and it has your name tied to it. And specifically as a small business owner, make sure that you’re keeping in mind that if you do not use it correctly, it is there for a loan. And then the question becomes, do you want to become in debt where you are paying interest?
D.A. Malone, CP…: 16:12 Or, can you give them money that you didn’t use back?
Linsey Lindberg…: 16:16 Is that a thing? Can you give the money back at this point?
D.A. Malone, CP…: 16:19 I think you would, it’d be like paying the principal off so that you’re not stuck on a loan then if you don’t need it. And that’s another concern I have right now with this hard year, I see all the time, the advertisements for people to go into their banks and sign for home equity loans, or just personal line of credits. It’s very tempting, but don’t do it for Christmas presents or vacations or trips that you want. It’s only if you can’t make your mortgage or you can’t buy groceries and be careful because it seems like there’s a lot of money being thrown out there that you could get into trouble. So I am concerned about people doing that when I see those advertising for a “sign here and we’ll give you this $20,000”, and this is going to be an unusual recovery period in 2021. So let’s get vaccinated. That’s what I want everybody to get vaccinated.
Host, Linsey Li…: 17:14 When we come back from break, we’ll tie it all up and really focus in on what it means to be part of a local business community and how we can recover together.
TXMI Commercial: 17:25 Support for this program comes from Texas Mutual Insurance Company, a safety focus workers’ comp provider, supplying information and resources that can help Texas employers stop accidents before they happen more at texasmutual.com.
Host, Linsey Li…: 17:40 And now back to our show. If you are a small business, I’d say if you’re medium, but medium size, I think counts as 200 or 300 employees and above. So if you are a small business, make sure you are banking with a local bank, make sure that your accountant is somebody whose office you can go knock on their door and not…
New Speaker: 18:07 and walk in crying?
Linsey Lindberg…: 18:09 And walk in crying! Because it’s moments like these, where you realize how important it is to have established those relationships already. And again, that’s what it is to be a small business owner in a community and..
D.A. Malone, CP…: 18:22 That support each other.
Linsey Lindberg…: 18:24 And, and that’s why it’s super important right now that we lean on each other in our communities, because we’re trying to make sure that everybody in our community makes it through. So even though the world moves very fast, don’t, don’t become too anonymous. If you’re anonymous, you can really fall through the cracks with banks when it comes to PPP with, you know, I know that there are plenty of times I’ve emailed you and said, please, please, please. I need these documents today, if possible. And, and you will help. If you can, you will help.
D.A. Malone, CP…: 19:02 And this is why I have to keep what I have, because it’s a lot.
Linsey Lindberg…: 19:05 That is why it’s important to find your, your business community and the people who you have a work relationship with. You pay them money because they are your business professional. But because they are also your friend and part of your community, they look out for you. They make sure that you are straight, that you are legit, that you are doing all of the things that are important to do so that when these Black Swan moments happen, you don’t get left on your ass.
D.A. Malone, CP…: 19:36 You have support.
Linsey Lindberg…: 19:38 Yeah. Support.
D.A. Malone, CP…: 19:39 I hope I helped you.
Linsey Lindberg…: 19:40 You helped me so much that I don’t know. I don’t know how many times I said, if it wasn’t for Debbie, I would be so screwed right now.
D.A. Malone, CP…: 19:49 That’s what makes my job satisfying.
Linsey Lindberg…: 19:53 Yeah. You, you helped me make it through this. And for that, I will be so grateful for the rest of my life. You made this doable and, and to all the government agencies who gave help and loans, then you made it possible for me to not worry that I was going to lose my house.
D.A. Malone, CP…: 20:16 It’s so funny. You said that because this is the first time when we went back to other administrations and they had all these bailouts and helping of companies that will never even be close to, to be help at this level. It felt good, like, wow, for once we’re being helped. And I have to say, I’m so grateful to the government for doing these programs to help the small businesses, because it did help.
Linsey Lindberg…: 20:45 Yeah. I hope it continues because we’re not out of the woods yet.
D.A. Malone, CP…: 20:48 Nope.
Linsey Lindberg…: 20:50 And we’re going to really see what the, what the fallout looks like as 2021 continues. So, um, everybody support your small businesses stay local in the same way that we talk about, you know, when you’re with your produce, you know, know where your produce comes from, eat local. Well, make sure that you’re keeping your small business community local and supporting everybody all around.
D.A. Malone, CP…: 21:14 Yes.
Linsey Lindberg…: 21:15 Great. Any, any thing I missed that you want to say,
D.A. Malone, CP…: 21:18 Well, it’s the end of the year, make sure you go and donate to Goodwill and churches and charities because it’s still talk about an area that’s been really hurt by COVID. People don’t have the extra. So if you don’t have the money to give clean out your closet today and take it to Goodwill and get me that receipt.
Linsey Lindberg…: 21:37 That is the perfect ending advice for this. Thank you very much.
D.A. Malone, CP…: 21:41 You’re welcome.
Linsey Lindberg…: 21:42 It’s been a delight.
Host, Linsey Li…: 21:43 Thank you for joining us on this episode of Emerging Texas Strong. Let’s take a second to review a few more things that your accountant wants you to know. 1) (And this is a repeat from last week because it’s that darn important) bookkeeping and record keeping for your small business is one of the most important parts of running a company do not wait until the end of the year to get your financial house in order. 2) If you don’t have time to keep your books or understand the ins and outs of a program like QuickBooks, hire a bookkeeper to do it for you. It’s more important than you would think. 3) Two months before this is the cutoff time of when you can turn in your end of your numbers to your accountant and not have them hate you for it. 4) Finding the right accountant is like finding a good doctor, ask a lot of questions, test them out, and ultimately make sure that that person that you choose to take care of your business is the right fit. And 5) Don’t be invisible to your business support team, stay local support another professional, small business. And ultimately you’ll find that when moments like COVID happen again, you’ll have a team who has your back. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast or found it useful, please share an episode with a friend. We want to grow Emerging Texas Strong as a free resource for business owners. So send it to someone who could use these lessons to be happier and healthier business owners. Join us next time for the final episode of Season 2, Episode 10: Opportunities To Shake Things Up In Your Business Model, where we’ll speak to small business owners who had a shift in their mindset during the pandemic and restructured their businesses to fit this new mindset and new normal podcast, production interviews, edits, sound design, and office snacks for the Emerging Texas Strong podcast are done by Linsey Lindberg. Bios and business information for all guests featured in season two can be found on EmergingTexasStrong.com. Find out how you can work with them and support Texas small business. To share the hope, the journey, the struggles, and the advice. Be sure to follow like rate and subscribe to Emerging Texas Strong on the web so that each episode shows up directly in your podcast feed. And if you’re enjoying the show and want to show us some love, leave a five star review, it’ll help more people find us. Follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn @emergingtexasstrong or Twitter @Texasstrongpod, where I’ll be posting ways to connect with our guests and gems from Ep 9 mentioned in today’s show. And if you’d like to be interviewed, reach out to me, firstname.lastname@example.org. Emerging Texas Strong is a production of Earnest Media. If you are interested in sponsoring a heartful podcast, focused on the journey of Texas business owners for a focused market audience, we’d love that email email@example.com. And remember, you’ve got a friend somewhere in Texas, who’s rooting for you. I’m your host, Linsey Lindberg. Join us next time. For more stories of Texas small business on Emerging Texas Strong.
TXMI Commercial: 25:13 Support for the Emerging Texas Strong podcast comes from Texas Mutual insurance Company. A workers’ comp provider committed to helping companies build a stronger, safer Texas.
Linsey Lindberg…: 25:23 The very last thing I need you to do is give yourself a commercial.
D.A. Malone, CP…: 25:27 No, I don’t want any more business.
Linsey Lindberg…: 25:32 No, no, no, no.
D.A. Malone, CP…: 25:33 When you say commercial!