Recap: Last week's show with John Dillard, CPA

John Dillard live on Family Business RadioXIn the premiere interview on Family Business Radio, Pat Romboletti and Meredith Moore welcomed John Dillard, owner of HisCPA  ( an Atlanta-area CPA for more than 30 years.

In setting the stage for their discussion, Meredith shared some family-owned business statistics, courtesy of the Cox Family Business Center at Kennesaw State University under the direction of Dr. Joseph Astrachan, such as:

• 80% of the world’s businesses are family owned.

• Family-owned business account for more than half of the U.S. gross domestic product.

John began by explaining the difference between a CPA and an auditor.  He described an auditor as someone who comes in after the fact and interprets the data, “like counting casualities after the battle.” A CPA, however, is proactive and the best ones help the owners of family businesses run the company, including helping to establish policy and contemplating the future. “You want a CPA who has empathy for your company,” he pointed out, and acts as a virtual CFO/virtual controller.

When asked how a family business owner can best partner with a CPA, he advised to “call and call often,” but especially when something major is under consideration, like buying a business, adding a partner, dissolving a partnership, installing a health plan, etc.

Before bringing new family members into the business, John recommended that a shareholder agreement be drawn up before that person comes on board. Assuming no dramatic change in the company, this document should be reviewed every 5-10 years.

With succession planning, he advised that you begin by knowing the worth of your company, so get a business valuation. If your business grows rapidly, the valuation needs to be done yearly; for those companies enjoying steady growth, every 5-10 years is sufficient. John also recommended that succession changes be implemented over time to allow the new person time to mature into their role. Finally, he suggests that you hire a competent tax attorney.

The final discussion centered on how a family-owned business should deal with their team of trusted advisors. John’s thoughts were that the business is best served when the advisors work in tandem—even when the opinions differ.  A little healthy debate can serve you well.

Family Business Radio hosts and John DillardAnd John’s three parting tips:

1. Live below your means. Financial hiccups will occur; it’s not a matter of “if.” So have a cushion.

2. Know when you need to get a financial “second opinion.”

3. Be debt-adverse

Thank you John for being a part of our family-owned business community and thank you for your expert advice.  John Dillard, can be reached at His CPA, PC, 770-814-9304.

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