How to Find the Right Accountant for Your Business
How to Find the Right Accountant for Your Business
No business is an island. Many small business owners (SBOs) turn to attorneys, bankers, insurance agents, human resources services, etc. to support their growing businesses. But a professional top of the list in order of importance for small businesses – accountants.
An accountant can do many things to help SBOs manage their finances, some known to a few. At the end of the day, a good accountant is an invaluable resource that can help you make more informed decisions about tax management, hiring, budget development, cash flow protection, etc.
But where do you find a good accountant? What criteria should you use to evaluate one?
In this article, part of Accounting Guide for Small Business series, we answer these questions and put you on the right path to a rewarding accounting relationship.
How to Find an Accountant for Your Business
The first thing to realize about finding an accountant is that the relationship goes a long way. An accountant is a trusted advisor who will learn and advise on the most important details of your business. Searching online for such a valuable resource is like opening a crater, you will be bombarded with ads and sponsored listings with no real way to determine who is worth pursuing. and who doesn’t.
Instead, start your search with referrals. Pick the brains of fellow business owners, ask your lawyer or banker. Your local chamber of commerce or Small Business Development Center is a great meeting point for business owners. Attend a few social events or meetups, and you’ll be surprised how eager your colleagues are to make suggestions.
Understanding the difference between CPA, Bookkeeper and Accountant
Not all accountants are created equal. So it’s important to understand your accounting needs before you start looking.
For example, a bookkeeper is someone who can help record transactions, such as accounts receivable and payable, payment of sales tax, etc. But a bookkeeper cannot give advice on finance or tax.
An accountant, on the other hand, does all of the above, but they also have to prepare financial statements (profit and loss statements, balance sheets, etc.) and taxes.
However, an ordinary accountant is not recognized by the IRS as representing a client. For this, you will need a CPA or a tax attorney.
CPA is at the top when it comes to accounting. They passed the exams and obtained the certificate. A CPA knows more about tax codes than an accountant and is qualified to sign tax returns on your behalf and represent you before the IRS in the event of an audit. In addition, the CPA may perform audits and reviews of the financial statements.
To find a CPA, you can use your referral network or search the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) website.
How to evaluate candidates for your accounting needs
Once you’ve got a pool of potential candidates, it’s time to find the right candidate for your needs, business, industry, and preferred way of working. When you meet and greet the accountants, have a list of questions ready:
- “Tell me about your experience with small business.” Small businesses have unique challenges and dynamic accounting needs. Focus can shift in the blink of an eye from worrying about cash flow to taxes, to hiring to needing help with a loan application. What experience do accountants have with small businesses? Do they work a lot with businesses structured like yours, whether you’re a sole proprietor, LLC, partnership, or S corporation? Ask for references to back up any answers.
- “How familiar are you with my industry?“Accountants often specialize in certain industries. For example, if you are a franchisor, it would be helpful to have an accountant who understands franchise business models.
- “What kind of services do you provide?” 71% of small businesses turn to an accountant to help with tax returns. But that’s not all they do. Accountants can provide long-term strategic advice and assist with important accounting tasks such as budgeting, payroll, and accounts receivable management, as well as inform growth decisions such as hiring. In addition to asking what services they offer, don’t shy away from asking how they can also help you grow your business.
- “How do you bill for services?” Most accountants charge by the hour. However, others may offer a monthly holder. Dig deep to understand what the fee includes, are there any add-ons? Shop around to get an idea of the price and model that’s right for you.
- “Who is my point of contact?“Since an accountant is a trusted advisor, find out who you will be dealing with on a daily basis. Smaller companies may work with you with a senior partner who may be a better fit for you as you look to build a long-term relationship. Larger companies may not offer this kind of personal touch.
- “How did you know my business?“Even if your accountant only does your taxes, they need to know your business so they can help you make an informed decision. How will they approach this task? Other things to consider are how will you work together? How will they keep the schedule? How often will you see each other (in person, by phone)? How quickly do they respond to questions and requests?
Choosing an accountant is one of the most important decisions an SBO will make. Take your time to do your research, don’t just rush into a relationship during tax season, plan, assess your needs, but don’t overlook this important milestone in your business growth. until it’s too late.
Previously in the Small Business Accounting Guide:
- Best Accounting Method for Your Business, Cash or Accumulation?
- What accountants can do for your business and what they can’t
- 12 Accounting Terms Every Business Owner Should Know
Disclaimer: The information in this blog does not replace the advice of a tax or legal professional. Fundbox and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This document has been prepared for informational purposes only, is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon as tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult with tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. If you have any questions about your small business tax situation, talk to an expert.