Any small business owner, no matter how experienced, will benefit from the advice that an accountant can provide them with. Even though the relevant experiences may mean you don’t need an accountant, if you’re busy focusing on getting your business off the ground and bringing sales in, the chances are you’re not going to have time to do all of the tax paperwork yourself.

However, accountants can help you with much more than this, as they can help to guide your decisions as the business goes from strength to strength. They can also show you what tax deductions you’re entitled to. Where you could make changes that will improve the efficiency of your business.

How to maintain your cash flow, areas of growth, financial reports, and much, much more. But how do you find an accountant that’s right for you and your company’s needs?

Identifying your requirements

Before you start looking for an accountant, you need to establish what it is that you want them to do for you. You’ll find that there are some who will bookkeep whilst there are others who can do a wide range of business tasks for you.

If you need someone to manage your books as well as performing accountant-related duties, you’ll need to look for a company that can cater for all of these needs.

Alternatively, if you’re managing your own books, it’s a good idea to find an accountant who’s happy to come in on a regular basis to produce statements and offer their advice on the business overall.

To get the most out of your accountant, you’ll need them to come into the business regularly, not just when your tax return is due. This can help you to increase your bottom line because you’re operating efficiently.

Finding the right accountant

Now you know what you want your accountant to do, you’ll need to find some potential candidates or companies that can help you. You may do a Google search for accountants in your area but don’t just plunge for the first one you see and make sure you do thorough research before you go with them.

It’s a good idea to check out accounts that are listed in the American Institute of Certified Accountants (AICPA) as companies like this accounting firm will have been reliably sourced for this database.

You could also ask other local businesses in your area who they are using, especially if they operate within the same industry as you. One of the best ways of finding an accountant is through word-of-mouth, so always ask people’s advice on who they use if you can.

Evaluating your accountant

You wouldn’t hire an employee without checking their resume and going through a rigorous interview process, and it should be the same for selecting your accountant. Ask them for client references and do a background business check before you arrange to meet them.

When you do have a meeting with them be sure to discuss who you are, what you’re wanting your business to achieve and what steps you’ve already put in place.

It’s important that they know the ins and outs of your company, as you do theirs. You should also find out what their availability is and whether they’ll carry out the work at your office or their own.

Check that your prospective accountant asks you all of the right questions too, as this shows initiative and that they’re going to be a proactive force for your company.

Someone who doesn’t ask any questions may not have the drive to get the right results for your company, so make sure they’re going to be involved because this will help you to get more value for your money.

Accounting for costs

There’s no fixed price that you’ll get from your accountant and with every business having different needs this can also be a contributing factor to the charges each accountant has. Prices can also vary depending on where you’re located and some may charge per hour.

You may be able to save some money by doing the books yourself, or by reducing the amount of time the accountant is with you but this will depend on your requirements and how much time you can put aside for bookkeeping.

Always ask for competitive quotes from the accountants and see if they’ll provide you with a flat fee if you sign up for a certain amount of hours / contracted time.

This post was written by Erin Khan. Erin is a business mentor who started his own business more than 20 years ago. He gets a thrill from helping other small businesses succeed and contributes to a range of business websites with his articles.

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