How to Choose an Accountant for Your Business
There are more than 30 million small businesses in the United States. Are you at the helm of one?
If so, you know how complicated and overwhelming it can be to handle your own accounting work. Even if you don’t mind crunching numbers or analyzing spreadsheets, you’ve got more mission-critical work to do.
That’s why it pays to partner with a professional accountant who can take the reins for you. Allowing an expert to handle your payroll, budgeting, cash flow and more can be a welcome sigh of relief.
However, it doesn’t take long to realize that there are many different kinds of accounting firms available, offering a variety of services. Today, we’re sharing how to choose an accountant that’s right for your business, so you can start reaping the benefits right away.
Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!
1. Understand Your Accounting Needs
Before you can choose the right accountant, you must first understand the types of accounting services you need. Many small businesses need what’s known as an enrolled agent.
This is a tax practitioner who’s federally licensed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The most elite credential awarded by the IRS, an enrolled agent can perform a variety of accounting services for your company, including:
- Accounts receivable management
- Accounts payable management
- Sales tax management
- Payroll management
- Financial statement preparation
- Banks reconciliation
- Credit card reconciliation
- Cash flow analysis
- Payroll processing
Take the time to brainstorm the kinds of activities that you need an accountant to handle for your business. This can help you direct and focus your search.
2. Prioritize Industry Experience
As a small business owner, you need someone on your side who’s well-versed in your sector. While an accountant with Fortune 500 enterprise experience might be helpful, it’s wise to partner with one who understands the unique accounting challenges that small businesses face.
From cash flow issues and limited to capital to unforeseen expenses and complicated tax forms, there many concerns that might be on your shoulders. Look for an accounting firm that specializes in helping small businesses successfully manage their books.
3. Understand the Fee Structure
Before you team with a new accountant, it’s important to understand the firm’s fee structure. This is important because there’s no one-size-fits-all number to expect.
Some accountants will charge a fee that covers everything, including doing your taxes. On the other hand, others will charge separately for bookkeeping and tax-related services. Moreover, some will charge a flat rate or an annual rate, while others will bill you monthly.
To add to the complexity, there is not an industry standard for setting a price point on these services. This means that one accounting firm might charge a certain amount, while the one down the street will charge differently. The difference often comes down to the number of services provided, as well as the qualifications of each accountant.
Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you understand the billing cycle and the total amount that you’ll pay. Double-check it against your budget and make sure the numbers line up before moving forward.
4. Check Reputation
Ultimately, you want to partner with an accountant who has a great reputation both on-screen and off-screen.
Check around with industry peers to see who they use and if they’re satisfied with the services they’ve received. In addition, you can also hop online and check out any accountant’s online presence to vet them virtually.
Studies show that 84% of people now trust online recommendations as much as personal advice from friends and family members. Find each accountant’s social media pages and website, and look for ratings or testimonials from past clients. This is a great way to discern that team’s local reputation from an unbiased, real-life perspective.
While you’re plugged in, go ahead and review their web presence, too. An outdated and slow-loading website could be a sign that an accountant isn’t as tech-savvy as modern bookkeeping requires.
5. Ask About Innovation
As you’re interviewing prospective accountants, ask each one about the software their team uses. If they’re still sticking with a desktop program that peaked decades ago and is now near-obsolete, that’s a red flag and a sign to run.
It’s no secret that the accounting sector is becoming more automated, modern, and sophisticated by the day.
A qualified accountant will be able to keep pace with this shift, embracing best-of-breed, web-based technology solutions that make the job simpler and more accurate. Your small business needs software that it can grow and mature alongside, not one that’s going to stifle its growth.
Look for an accountant who not only uses these tools but trains your staff on how to use them, as well. You should be able to run your business from anywhere and access your accounting data at any time.
6. Ensure Access to Analytics
You don’t just want an accountant who will manage your books from afar and keep you out of the loop. Rather, you need to access to timely and accurate financial data to make important business decisions in real-time.
Make sure that any accountant you hire will provide you with regular check-ins, including:
- Weekly and monthly reporting
- Comprehensive analytical reports
- Key Performance Indicator (KPI) data
- Regular forecasts
This way, you always know how your operations are going, and if there are any areas in which they could improve.
7. Require Team Training
Does the accountant in question appear to be dedicated to professional development? You need one that regularly invests back in its employees to make sure they’re up-to-date on the latest technologies, industry trends, and best practices.
This way, you can rest assured that you’re receiving top-of-the-line support from a qualified, certified and knowledgeable team. If an accounting firm doesn’t have a plan in place to grow its own in-house resources, it’s unlikely they’ll dedicate much time to grow yours.
How to Choose an Accountant? Start Your Search Here
Are you looking for an accounting team that you can trust to help your small business thrive?
If so, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ve been in the business for more than a decade, and we know firsthand both the challenges and opportunities that small business owners are faced with on a daily basis. That’s why we’re dedicated to making your life easier.
As you learn more about how to choose an accountant, feel free to browse our site to learn more about the services we offer and how our process works. Then, contact us with any questions and let’s get started.