The success of any small business in the early stages depends almost solely on the business owner. Great ideas and your ability to execute on those ideas are what will get your business off to a great start. A lot depends on the decisions you make right from the beginning. Starting out successfully may be up to you, but growing your small business is up to those smart people you bring on board to help you take the business to new heights.

Every task is important as you grow. And getting your accounting right should be on the list of things you have to get right the moment you kick start the business. Many entrepreneurs tend to focus on getting their ideas right and forget to keep an eye on their books. It’s your responsibly to help your business with an accountant who can take care of your finances whilst you focus on delivering amazing customer service.

The search for an accountant can be very challenging. Keep these principles in mind when you are ready to get an accountant involved in your business and you’ll have the best chance of getting a great accountant for your new business.

What you should avoid is spending hours trying to take care of your books by yourself and then giving up and handing it over to someone that can do it better. Don’t waste time if you can’t handle it yourself.

It pays to know exactly what you need and expect

Some businesses structures are more complex than others from an accounting perspective. Identify what tasks you need an accountant to handle in your new business. Is it just taxes? Are there regulatory or compliance issues you need to deal with because of your industry? Knowing what services you need will inform your choice of accountant.

Various tasks like dealing with invoices, recording expenses, monitoring outgoings and paying employees can be very time consuming. What exactly do you expect an accountant to do for your business?

Do your home work

Your accountant needs to be someone that you trust and work with without reservations. Simply turning to Google to find an accountant can be dangerous. Talk to trusted friends and colleagues who have been in business for a while, and see if you can get a business accounting recommendation.

If you do need to pick an accountant cold, make sure to ask for references. Call those references. Ask your references whether they believe the accountant or specific accountant company has helped them save money over a long period of time. Or what their accounting practices are and whether the way they work won’t be an issue for you or your business culture.

Personality matters

You’re going to be working closely with your accountant, especially at tax time. You need to be able to tolerate being around this person. Your accountant doesn’t have to be your best friend, but you need to choose someone with whom you can get along and that doesn’t grind on your nerves.

“Look for someone who can act as a business partner. You want them to demonstrate the skills and knowledge of supporting a small business.” says Charlotte Chung, senior policy advisor at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

A great accountant should do more than just balancing your books

The accountant you hire should not just be looking after your annual accounts and tax compliance. They should be able to help you raise capital by finding grants, government funding pots, and tax relief schemes that can help your business grow. Some accountants can even help you sell shares in the business, crowdfund or find angel investment when you are ready to make that step. Ask your prospective accountants what they can do apart from balancing your books.

As your business grows, it’s smart to have absolute control and visibility of your business, making sure that the right business structures are all in place in a tax-efficient way and you can make sound management decisions based on accurate, timely figures.