Irrespective of the industry your small business falls into, you cannot understate the value of a good accountant. You can get a bookkeeper for basic accounting services, an accountant who has a degree in accounting for more complicated accounting and payroll services, or a certified public accountant who can help with tax planning and also prepare taxes. All of these people can share strategic advice for business growth.
If you run a small business, you need to hire a reliable accountant. But you need to do the required research to get a good fit. Here are ten tips that will help you choose an accountant for your small business.
#1: Know What You Need
But before you choose an accountant, you need first to understand the kind of work or responsibilities you want the accountant to handle for your business. If you need monthly financial statements and bookkeeping tasks, a non-certified accountant or bookkeeper can be hired. But to get tax planning advice, tax returns prepared, or audited financial statements, you need a CPA or certified public accountant.
#2: Look For Small Business Experience
Beware of big accounting firms. You need someone who works with small businesses, and it could also be a bonus if the accountant works with businesses in your industry. While working for clients from a specific industry for a long time, some accountants get to know the related challenges very well. If the accountant has been dealing with several clients like you, he/she can guide you well about making the right financial decisions for the growth of your company.
#3: Decide Whether You Need an Accountant or a CPA Firm
Many small business owners start by managing their taxes on their own. Unlike the past, it has become much easier for business owners to do simple bookkeeping tasks with the help of advanced software like QuickBooks, Xero, Sage, and similar others.
But after a certain point in time, it does make sense to hire a professional or a team of accountants to handle accounting, payroll, and tax responsibilities. Whether you need a CPA or a solo accounting firm depends on the scale of your business and the number of transaction you do per month.
#4: Ask for Recommendations
One way to find an accountant for your business is to ask other business owners about whom they use. Nothing is better than a recommendation from one of your peers. Ask about their experience of working with their accountant or bookkeeper, and get some idea of the budget you’ll need to have to pay for these services.
#5: Compare Fees
Some accountants charge a monthly fee which includes their fee to complete taxes while others charge monthly for bookkeeping services and then separately for business and personal taxes. You want to know how they bill before making a decision on which vendor to use. Not every accountant or accounting firm charges the same fee for its services. It differs in terms of how many services are provided and the qualifications of the person providing the services. Some accountants charge a flat fee for bookkeeping services or an annual fee for a specific set of services such as taxes. Depending on your cash flow, you may be able to negotiate how you pay. Make sure you analyze your budget before making the final decision.
#6: Leverage Social Media
These days most accountants are active on different social media platforms. In fact, having a profile on LinkedIn should be a must for any working accountant or accounting firm. You want to see if they have a profile and if they have any recommendations from customers. That is social proof that they have an active business and are highly recommended for their expertise by at least a few customers.
#7: Ask About Accounting Software
Before you choose an accountant, you’ll want to ask what software they recommend for their small business customers. You may find some accountants who are using the same old desktop accounting software. They do not want to switch to the latest online accounting solutions. You want to invest in an accounting software system that you can grow into in 3-5 years. You also want an accountant who can teach you how to use your software and set up your initial chart of accounts. You should also inquire about whether they could help you get a discount on your accounting software.
#8: Check If the Accountant Uses Cloud Technology
More and more accountants are switching to cloud computing. It is because of the number of benefits they can get, such as data security, remote data accessibility, flexibility to do work, and many other features like electronic invoicing, and ACH wire transfer. At all times, you want to have access to your accounting data. Plus, you want the accountant to be available to discuss urgent matters any time. This is possible when the accountant has opted for cloud services.
#9: Ask About Reporting Frequency
It is important for you to know how often you will get financial statements from your accountant. Frequent communication is vital between you and your accountant, especially when you are growing your business. You want to use your accountant as a business advisor, not just to get help during tax season. So, set expectation about the frequency of reporting and communication in advance, and choose an accountant who meets your requirements.
#10: Be Selective
You need an accounting professional on your team. Interview at least three candidates before you select your accountant. You need to choose an accountant that is a fit for your small business. If you hired an accountant that does not feel like they are on your team, move on. While you might feel some short-term discomfort while doing this, you will get long-term benefits for your business. You need up-to-date financial information to make the best business decisions. This starts with professional accounting services.
Right Choice of an Accountant Will Help Grow Your Small Business
An accountant is a key team member in your business. You need someone who is experienced, reliable, and ready to be there for you whenever a need arises. They will not only manage the accounting tasks but also offer practical business advice to support your business planning and growth. If you choose an accountant based on these tips, you reduce your risk of making the wrong choice for your company.