When choosing for the right qualified CPA for your business, the goal is to find a business advisor who is qualified to help take you from point A to point B—the long haul, in other words. The plan is to find the right complimentary relationship.
The CPA you should be looking for is someone who you can and will rely on. This puts a huge degree of responsibility on the advisor to give good advice to you, the business owner. Sound advice is advice that is constructive and productive. Bad advice is advice that will get you in trouble. Bad advice can easily translate into “no advice.”
There are various sources of suggestions and tips available to use as guides when performing your search for the “right” CPA for your small business. This article presents some of these suggested tips. The key is to match business needs with a CPA who is qualified and capable of helping you with identifying and satisfying those needs.
The following bulleted overview contains just a few of the ideas taken from the Small Business Administration’s (“SBA”) website.
Why Hire an Accountant?
An accountant can save you time and clear up much of the confusion you experience when it comes to managing your finances and taxes, but a trusted accountant can provide other benefits, too.
- Act as a Trusted Advisor – More than just a tax preparer, an accountant can become a trusted advisor to your small business, helping you manage cash flow, plan for growth, assess risk, and keep your books in order.
- Help Balance Business and Personal Needs – Many small businesses, particularly sole proprietors and startups, find that their business and personal finances are closely linked. A good accountant can help you make sound judgments beneficial to both.
- How to Find an Accountant
Referrals are often the best way to find accountants you can trust. Network and mingle at local business events hosted by your local Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Development Center, or other small business organizations.
Once you have a short list, schedule a free initial consultation to help determine whether your candidates are the right fit for your needs:
- Some questions to ask include:
What’s your experience with small businesses? Small businesses have dynamic and sometimes complex accounting needs and few resources to manage them. An accountant who understands these dynamics and has a solid small business client base will likely serve your needs better in the long run. You’ll also want to know that your accountant has experience with businesses that are structured like yours – whether you are a sole proprietor, LLC, partnership, or corporation.
What experience do you have with my industry? Ideally, your accountant should have knowledge of your industry.
Do you do more than tax preparation? If you want long-term strategic advice to help you manage your small business finances, be sure to ask about the range of value-add services, such as business valuation, budgeting and forecasting, bookkeeping, risk assessment, and small business startup advice.
Here are additional tips for finding the best accountant for your small business, as noted by Due, and they help round out the previous bullet points:
What Are Your Business Needs?
Prior to hiring an accountant, you need to ask yourself one very important question: what do you want an accountant to do for you? Do you need someone to handle all of your business’s bookkeeping and accounting?
Outside vs. Inside
If you’re just starting out, you may want to hire an outside accountant who can prepare taxes, financial statements, and provide advice. Your business size should determine if you need an outside or inside accountant.
Their Personality Matches Yours
You’re going to be working very closely with your accountant – even if it’s part-time. Even if they are the most talented accountant on the planet, if you can’t stand them or have a different work ethic, you probably won’t be able to be that productive.
Ask Who Their Current Clients Are
By knowing the accountant’s other clients you can see if they have experience in your industry. However, it also gives you the opportunity to speak to these business owners to see if they are satisfied with the accountant.
If you anticipate some major growth for your business you may want to have an accountant who is familiar with business and strategic planning, budgeting, cash flow management, and estate planning.
Firm is Right Size For Your Business
A smaller accounting firm would work best with a small business. It just wouldn’t make sense for an accountant who works with enterprises to work for a company that only has three employees.
Willing to Educate
It would make everyone’s lives easier if the accountant would be willing to educate team members on some accounting and bookkeeping basics.
Fluent in Your Current Accounting Software
If you’ve had success with a particular accounting software, and don’t want to switch, does the accountant have experience with it? If not, you need to discuss how vital business information will be assessed and shared.
The bottom-line with these tips: do not skimp on the decision-making process for selecting your CPA. It will affect your business for years to come, and it’s not something to rush into without doing your due diligence.