Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
I don’t know how time or money savings could be measured. In order to do this, I could look back at the years when we were filing taxes on our own, and compare those with the instances when we used someone else.
Our business was at a completely different place for each one of those years, so it would be hard to assign a true value to ORBA. In year two or three of working with our accountant, our business did very well from a revenue perspective, and we ended up paying $30,000 in taxes. I don’t know if this is a lot or a little compared to other organizations, but, at the time, it was a lot of money to us. We had conversations on how we could improve the benefits we were giving the team, and maybe not spend so much on taxes. This way, our employees would get a better quality of life, and we wouldn’t need to spend so much in taxes at the beginning of the year. Our accountant recommended a couple of options, and I had a conversation with my father, who is also an accountant, and recommended we talk to Edelman Financial. We went to them, and they put a roadmap together for what we could do for our employees, and for limiting our tax liability at the end of the year. We have a nice program in place now, our employees get to contribute, and we can put some money away. We don’t have to have such an outlay of business at the beginning of the year, when there is the most variability. This period is a bit quieter, since people are getting their footings, budgets are getting renewed, so it’s not a good time for dropping a bunch of cash due to poor planning.
How did ORBA perform from a management standpoint?
I’m pretty satisfied with the communication. I don’t hold their team accountable for these issues, because accountants are not financial planners, and to place that responsibility on them would not be accurate. The biggest problem for us, as a company which has gone through a number of options, is simply doing our job without the entanglement of making recommendations which we would become accountable for. We will start to put blinders on, and not open these cans of worms. It would be nice if there was more communication around these things, but, at the same time, I can point the finger back at myself and say that I could do more research on what growing companies do in order to decrease their taxes. I certainly love being in America and paying my taxes, but I also want to minimize taxable liabilities, and utilize resources in a responsible manner. The question is how we balance these things, and who is responsible for shining the flashlight. It would be nice if there were more standardized signals for what to do with a business.
Are there any areas ORBA could improve?
Many people want to create huge, scalable, disruptive businesses, but, for those who don’t, it would be nice to have a sort of road-mark, a more formalized way of knowing what needs to be done at certain revenue sizes. This is hard to say, since everyone’s priorities are different, and it’s why we need to talk to financial planners. We need to start anticipating these things at around the $500,000 mark, and start talking to potential partners. I don’t have a problem with ORBA’s approach, but I would like more proactive suggestions.
What tips or recommendations could you share that might increase the likelihood of success with ORBA?
Try to have regular conversations about your goals, and keep the firm in-the-loop. I try to think about the website-development process. Our client companies can change completely in one year, but, fortunately, our platform is scalable, so we can evolve and add to it. Still, we have to drive the conversation, and can’t expect our accounting agency to reach out every month and ask what’s different. We have to reach out to them and keep them ahead of big changes like acquiring property, hiring new people and so on, so that they can respond with helpful advice.