If you’re a small business owner and do not have a long list of employees on the payroll and you’re not using an accounting software for business owners such as LessAccounting, you might need an accountant to help with your financials. Having an accountant from the “birth” of your company to the venture stage will certainly prove useful in the long run. The role of an accountant in a small business management is essential. He or she could provide assistance for filing taxes, be a financial advisor or help you compile financial statements. Therefore, finding the right accountant will provide you with a huge advantage.
Given the fact that most accountants have different specializations, qualifications or interests, finding the right one sometimes proves to be more difficult than you would imagine. So, how do you find the accountant that fits your needs?
First of all, when trying to find the right accountant, start by asking yourself some key-questions. Michael Pope and I gathered all the information that we could find on this topic, and after a long brainstorming session, we came up with 4 steps you need to take to ensure you find the right accountant for your business:
1. What are the needs of your company? In order to track down the right accountant, start from here: decide what types of services you want your accountant to perform before actually searching for one. Don’t do it the other way around. Once you’ve identified what your company needs, whether it’s help with your taxes or your everyday accounting practices, ask yourself the following question: Is financial tracking the thing that your company is in dire need of? Try and figure out why you need an accountant in the first place and only then look for someone that fits your needs.
2. In the business environment, most entrepreneurs are more interested in a local accountant that can provide services at an affordable price. However, that is not always the best thing to do. Ask yourself who are the main players. Some people prefer an accountant who is in close proximity to their business office, while others prefer having accountants that meet their needs online. It all boils down to your preference, so the best advice we can offer you is to find a select few that fit your needs.
3. Do your homework before talking to an accountant. Find out things about his/her reputation and their experience in the field. You could go online and check reviews or even talk to some owners that were once facing the same problem. This will help you cross names off your list and remain with only a handful of names. After taking this step and realizing that you only have 2 or 3 names left on the list, set appointments with each accountant. For the appointment, you should be well-prepared and ask several questions such as:
What is the experience he or she has with small businesses? It will come as no surprise to you that an accountant must be extremely experienced, but you should find out whether he has the necessary experience with a company similar to yours. If you own an LLC, make sure that the accountant is currently managing other LLC accounts.
What is his/her experience in your industry? The ideal accountant for you must have a vast knowledge of your industry, knowing how to identify potential threats which your industry may face or is facing and to determine the specific needs of your business. If the accountant you’ve hired is not acquainted with your field, you will miss out on tax deductions and good financial advice that will put a dent in your wallet.
You should also ask who you will be working with. It is recommended that the entrepreneur has only one point of contact. Most of you already know that it’s easier to get advice and develop a relationship with only one person, rather than always being put on hold and explaining your problems to several different people.
Another crucial question is does he or she offer the services that you need. You should make sure your accountant will be able to provide you with all the services you need. Why hire someone who only does a portion of the tasks?
4. Before hiring the right person, ask the accountant to explain how you will be billed. This is a crucial step, given the gap in pricing depending on the accountant’s service. While some accountants may charge you by the hour, others have flat rates per service and others use a combination of the two. Make sure you ask potential charges that usually aren’t a topic of discussion in your first appointment. Some of you may raise an eyebrow and see this question as odd, but you would be surprised by the answers you get. That’s why it’s better to be surprised at the beginning, rather than after you’ve made a commitment.
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