When you start a business, you’ll get lots of advice. One of the most common things you’ll hear is this: “Get yourself a good lawyer and a good accountant”.
If you’ve decided to organize your business finances to propel you forward, choosing an accountant for your business is your next crucial task. Here are a few ideas to help you make the decision:
Determine your “must-haves” and your “nice-to-haves”. Accountants come with different fees and different levels of service based on their involvement in your business. Are you willing to do some of the work? Do you want them to handle everything because you don’t have time? Having a clear idea of the kind of support you need will help you have more assertive conversations with prospective accountants.
Ask for recommendations from other small business owners. Do you know another business owner that has a good handle on their numbers? Find out who they use. When you know a little about their clients, you can get a feel for an accountant’s expertise, approach and fees. Be sure to research their social media accounts and online reviews to help you confirm they are a good fit.
Be clear on reporting frequency and timelines. Ask how often and by when can you expect to receive statements or other financial information. Although many entrepreneurs only think of accountants for help with the business taxes at the end of the year, if chosen properly, they can also be business advisors that help you obtain and analyze information in a timely manner, to make business decisions with confidence.
Consider the technology platforms the accountant uses. With cloud-based services, your accountant can more easily access your financial information and bring urgent issues to your attention. If you travel a lot or if you choose someone outside of your immediate area, a cloud-based service can allow your accountant to communicate with you instantly from virtually anywhere.
Make sure you feel comfortable asking questions. If you’re intimidated by your accountant, keep searching until you find someone with whom you’re comfortable enough to speak openly and ask questions. As Dave Ramsey says, find an accountant with the heart of a teacher. Someone who will not only give you the reports but help you understand your numbers and the financial impact of your decisions.
Remember, you’re the business owner. Your accountant is a professional guide and support that will not only help you comply with fiscal regulations but also become a sharper entrepreneur. While they help you gather and prepare your financial reports and prepare your taxes, you must own your numbers, master them, and use them. It’s up to you to effectively communicate with your accountant to ensure transactions are properly categorized and reports are produced. It’s also up to you to know what the reports and numbers mean. Your accountant won’t know your business as you do, so bring them into your team and let them support you.
The right accountant will help your business grow. Taking the time to research and interview potential accountants now will not only help your business prosper, but also save you time and costly mistakes in the long run.