As a small business owner, you can do a lot of your bookkeeping with online accounting software. But, some accounting duties are more difficult than recording your transactions. You might need an accountant to help you with tough financial tasks. Do you know how to find an accountant for a small business?
Like choosing an employee or a vendor, it’s hard to narrow down which accountant is the best fit. However, finding a good accountant can benefit your company.
Why hire an accountant?
When it comes to running your business, you are an expert. But, your books could be another story.
If you’re confused about your financial records, need help filing your business tax return, or have general questions about your business’s financial health, you might need an accountant. Here are just a few things a financial professional can do for your small business.
Passing some accounting tasks onto an accountant allows you to focus on business operations. Delegate financial duties so you can devote more time to improving your day-to-day processes.
Help you navigate confusing accounting tasks
You are not a financial expert. But, understanding your books is a crucial part of running your business. An accountant can help you understand complicated information, analyze statements, and project growth.
Find the tax deductions you’re eligible for
You might be forgetting small business tax deductions when you file your business tax return. That’s extra money your business is missing out on. Accountants know tax deductions inside and out. They can make sure you get the best possible refund. The additional small business tax preparation cost involved in hiring an accountant could end up saving you a lot of money.
Catch problems before they snowball
An accountant’s main focus is managing your financial records. With a watchful eye on your books, you have a good chance of catching issues before they turn into financial disasters.
The above examples are just a few ways an accountant can help your business. An accountant can also assist you in tax preparation and act as a trusted adviser.
You can see how having a financial expert on your side is beneficial. But, knowing how to find an accountant for small business is key to hiring the one that’s right for you.
How to find an accountant for small business
Ready to work with an accountant, but not sure where to start? Follow these simple strategies to begin your search for a small business accountant.
Know what you need
Identifying your accounting needs is the first step to finding an accountant. What all do you want the accountant to do for you?
Here are just a few tasks an accountant might complete:
- Record transactions
- Compile statements
- Review reports
- Prepare taxes
- Project growth
- Advise financial strategies
- Create a small business plan
- Research financing options
Some accountants will do bookkeeping while others focus on more complex tasks. If you record your transactions, you do not need an accountant working for you at all times. Instead, look for an accountant who will work with you periodically. If you do not want to do any of your accounting, you might opt to hire an in-house accountant.
Beginning your search: Where to look
Once you understand which tasks you need, you can begin your search. Look at directories for accounting companies and societies listed in your area. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) also has a directory of CPAs.
Don’t limit yourself to online directories. One great way to find an accountant is through word of mouth.
Get referrals by talking with local small business owners. Your local chamber of commerce (or similar small business organizations) is a great source for recommendations. One of the notable chamber of commerce membership benefits is that local accountants (in addition to other local businesses) may partner with your chamber to offer discounted rates for their services.
Choosing an accountant
You want to select the accountant you work with carefully. Narrow your search down to a few accountants and interview each. It’s crucial to meet your accountant face-to-face before hiring.
When you meet with accountants, discuss your business and your accounting needs. Let the accountant know what steps you have already taken with your accounting.
You will need to ask each accountant questions about their services. Here are some key questions to ask:
How often do you work with small businesses?
As a small business owner, you have unique accounting needs. You will want to work with an accountant who understands your specific requirements.
Ask about the accountant’s experience with your type of business structure. For example, if you are a sole proprietor, find out how much they have worked with sole proprietorships.
What kinds of accounting tasks can you help me with?
There are many types of accountants who have different specialties and training. Compare your needs to the accountant’s background and experience. Make sure you cover every task you expect the accountant to do.
How available will you be?
Consider flexibility when talking with the accountant. Find out if you will work directly with the accountant or if they have employees who will handle your books.
Also, ask if the accountant will come to your business location. You should know how quickly the accountant tends to respond to inquiries, too.
What are your fees and charges?
Accountants charge a wide range of prices. Find an accountant that fits into your business’s budget. Some accountants charge an hourly fee while others ask for a monthly retainer.
Get quotes before signing on with the accountant. Remember, cost is important, but don’t let it be the only factor when choosing your accountant.
Do you have any questions for me?
You want an accountant that will be engaged with your business. Ask if they have any questions about your business. If they answer “no,” it might be a red flag. You will get more value from an accountant who is involved with your company.
Finding your small business accountant
Whether you need an accountant for daily bookkeeping or occasional advice, finding the right one is essential for keeping your business healthy.
Take your time searching for an accountant who can provide all the services you need. Once you begin working with your accountant, they can act as a trusted adviser as you grow your company.
Patriot’s easy-to-use online accounting software is made for small business owners. And, we offer free, USA-based support to answer your questions. Try it for free today.
This article has been updated from its original publication date of November 3, 2016.This is not intended as legal advice; for more information, please click here.