Eide Bailly is a sponsor of Startup Sioux Falls. 

If you’ve ever attended a financial panel event at our facility, been part of a CO.STARTERS cohort, or if you’re planning to participate in Startup Office Hours this Thursday, you might already know Elliot Hitt of Eide Bailly. 

As a tax partner at the firm’s Sioux Falls office, Hitt enjoys helping people meet their financial goals. He first joined Eide Bailly for an internship which then turned into a job, and he has now been with the firm for 11 years. 

Hitt and the rest of the team at Eide Bailly are passionate about helping people navigate the complexities of accounting and finance when it comes to their businesses. For entrepreneurs launching a startup or exploring a new idea, it’s critical to keep finances organized from the start. 

Hitt encourages entrepreneurs to reach out to a tax professional as soon as possible—even if they haven’t launched or made a single sale—because the longer you wait, the messier things can get. Keep reading for some of Hitt’s key accounting tips for entrepreneurs. 

Financial tips to keep in mind as you’re getting started

1. Separate your personal and business transactions

The most important thing entrepreneurs can do to keep their business finances in line is to carefully manage their personal and business accounts. 

“Always clearly separate the personal and business transactions,” Hitt said. “When you mingle a personal bank account with a business, that’s when it gets messy, and that’s the biggest issue we tend to see with startup clients.”

But keeping those transactions organized doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, he says. Depending on the size and complexity of the business, a bookkeeper or an accounting software aren’t always necessary. Early on, it can be as simple as opening a second bank account and keeping track of every transaction. 

“It can be as basic as an Excel spreadsheet as long as you’re able to decipher it and keep those clean records,” he said.

2. Reach out to an accountant early

Tax season is the busiest time of year for accountants, so it’s wise not to wait until your taxes are due to reach out to them for the first time. 

“I would encourage entrepreneurs to have that initial conversation right away when you start up your business,” Hitt said. “The earlier the better, to eliminate any surprises.”

At Eide Bailly—as well as most other firms—that initial meeting is always complimentary, as a way for the tax professional and the client to get to know one another. 

“We sit down to see what your business needs are, what kinds of services would be useful for you, and what services you’re looking for. From there, we build out a proposal for what you need, whether that’s bookkeeping, payroll or tax services,” Hitt said.

3. Prepare for your initial meeting

Before you can make progress with a tax professional, they’ll need to know some basic information about your business. 

Try to come to your initial meeting with answers to the following questions: 

  • Do you have articles of organization?
  • Are you a registered business in the state?
  • What kind of entity structure does your business have?
  • What’s your 5-year growth plan?
  • Do you have revenue estimates or a financial forecast for the next 3-5 years?
  • If you have or plan to secure funding, where will it come from?

Even if the answers are “No,” or “I don’t know,” it’s important to be thinking about these questions at the outset of your business. While an Eide Bailly tax professional can’t directly assist with items like articles of organization or an entity structure, they can send you in the right direction, whether that’s to a lawyer or a resource like the SBA or SBDC

Supporting the local startup ecosystem

The team at Eide Bailly has always been supportive of the local business community, both in and out of the office.

“Accounting isn’t necessarily just about numbers,” Hitt said. “It’s very consultative, and we’re in here every day talking to people and helping them meet their goals.”

When they aren’t consulting with clients, the team gives back to numerous organizations through monetary donations or volunteer hours. 

“Sioux Falls really supports its local business community. There are a lot of people who give back, and that speaks volumes to the amount of local businesses we have here and how many are succeeding,” Hitt said. 

“As a firm, we’re excited to help out entrepreneurs and startup businesses, because it’s not an easy thing to navigate, and it takes a lot of courage. It’s awesome to see it growing, and it’s fun to be a part of it.”

Startup Sioux Falls is grateful to Eide Bailly for their longtime support as a sponsor, as well as their involvement in events like the CO.STARTERS accelerator program and Startup Office Hours. 

To connect with an Eide Bailly tax professional, visit www.eidebailly.com/locations/sioux-falls, or call the office at 605.339.1999.