Thursday, February 23, 2012

How to Choose an Accountant for Your Small Business

As you begin the journey of operating a small business you’ll find yourself entering into many new partnerships. Not only will you be building a qualified staff to help accomplish your company’s goals but you’ll also require the help of attorneys, landlords, real estate agents, insurance agents and accountants. It’s the accountant that might just become the most valuable asset to your company. That’s why picking the right account is crucial to the success of your business.

Just as with a company lawyer, it will be very hard to hide something from your accountant. That’s why you need to find a person and/or firm that you can trust. In order to pick the right small business accountant you have to understand the nature of their job. In this way you’ll be able assess possible candidates.

Beyond Bookkeeping: The Role of the Accountant

A small business that is just starting up could get by with a qualified bookkeeper to handle the accounts. This could be an employee specifically hired for the task. A bookkeeper needs to keep track of all the financial records pertaining to revenue and expenditures. Thanks to some very decent software programs, simple bookkeeping tasks aren’t complicated to maintain. However, when you bring an accountant into the equation then you are basically “super-sizing” your bookkeeping abilities.

A small business accountant will not only handle the bookkeeping duties but they will also be able to process all that financial information into advice for appropriate courses of action for the business.  One of the biggest issues that an accountant deals with is tax planning. This is not something that just happens every April 15. Business taxes need to be worked on throughout the year. Deductions, payroll, expenditures and investments all have impacts on a company’s tax return and an accountant will be in the best position to analyze the various options.

An experienced accountant is also someone who can provide consultations with regard to expanding your business. There is where they really can earn their paycheck! Although the final decision would be yours as the head of the company, an accountant should offer many options regarding an expansion plan whether that includes opening additional stores/offices and increasing the staff size. Your accountant should be as invested in your success as you are.

A small business achieves many levels of asset protection when it becomes incorporated. As the head of the company, you’ll also benefit from that protection but you might need assistance with regard to your personal finances. Your company accountant is probably in the best position to also advise you on your individual tax returns and suggest possible investment areas.

Accountant Interview Questions

As you meet with different candidates for your accountant you might want to consider asking them these pertinent questions:

·         What are your CPA qualifications?

·         How long have you been a CPA?

·         What other types of business do you represent?

·         How up to date are you with computer bookkeeping programs?

·         How do you keep on top of market trends?

·         How are your fees calculated?

·         What role do you play in the community?

Finally, ask for references and follow up with them. A good accountant should have no problems sharing their past and current success stories!