“Hey Siri, who’s the best accountant I can hire for my small business?”
If only it were that easy.
While search engines aren’t the worst place to begin your quest, you’ll need to be much more detailed in your parameters if you’re aiming to find the right accountant for you.
Simply put, hiring an accountant can feel extremely high-stakes. You need someone trustworthy, experienced, communicative, and understanding of the particular financial difficulties and tangles small businesses often face. You may not even be sure you need to hire an accountant at this point…after all, you can handle everything. Right?
If you’re unsure, keep reading as we uncover the best ways to determine whether or not you need an accountant, and how to pick the perfect accountant for your business.
But first, you may be wondering:
What’s the difference between an accountant and a bookkeeper?
An excellent question, and an important distinction to recognize before beginning your search for an accountant.
It’s the job of a bookkeeper to focus on day-to-day financial matters. These can include, but are not limited to:
- Collecting unpaid debt
- Utilizing accounting software to ensure all records are up to date
- Keeping track of any receipts
- Managing payroll
An accountant is more concerned about the big picture when it comes to your financial wellbeing. They might offer their expertise to:
- Point out potential issues or opportunities for growth
- Keep an eye on any gains or losses
- Prepare reports in the event of an audit
- Help you apply for financing
It’s not a bad idea to have both an accountant and a bookkeeper on your team. Depending on the accounting firm you choose to partner with, you may not need to hire a separate bookkeeper. Here at KYN Accounting, you don’t need to go to that trouble… We do both!
When do I need an accountant?
There’s not always a clear-cut line as to when you should start outsourcing to a professional accountant or bookkeeper. Messing up tax documentation or bookkeeping, though, can be an extremely costly mistake.
It’s a mistake you’ll never have to make if you hire the right accountant at the right time. If you haven’t, give our latest article a read. In 6 Clues Your Small Business Needs Accounting Help, we offer a list of (increasingly urgent) indicators that it's time to hire a financial expert.
If you’re still reading, you’ve likely already decided that it’s time to outsource financial help. Without further ado, let’s move on to the question of the day!
How do I pick the right accountant for my small business?
This important decision will come down to your unique needs and values as a business owner. While there’s no one right way to go about your search, there’s certainly a few wrong moves you could make! Follow our tips to ensure that you end up with a reputable and experienced accountant.
Make sure they’re accredited.
Do not, we repeat, do not hire an accountant that lacks accreditation. You should be hiring a CPA (Certified Public Accountant). This distinction means that they are licensed by the state, have passed the CPA exam, and keep up with continuing education requirements. Your CPA should also have a PTIN (Preparer Tax Identification Number) if they’re going to be doing your taxes.
You’re also going to want a CPA who is an Enrolled Agent. This means they are able to represent you in front of the IRS should you be audited. This can be a highly nerve-wracking situation, and the last thing you’ll want to do is scramble to find another CPA!
After you’ve reached out to an accounting firm and checked their credentials, be sure to ask for a list of client references. Prioritize contacting any of their clients who are in the same industry as you. Look up any firm you’re considering for complaints or negative marks on their record.
Start your search with this license verification directory of CPAs at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
Meet face to face!
If an accountant is unwilling to meet you in person, or hop on a Zoom call, they’re not the one. You need an accountant who is available and communicative. Their readiness to meet with you is a good indicator that they fulfill those basic requirements.
At this meeting, take along a friend or colleague whose opinion you trust. Even if they lack the knowledge to properly evaluate whether the accountant has a good hold on tax laws and accounting software, you’ll have their unbiased take on the accountant’s ability to communicate.
Questions you’ll want to ask at this meeting include:
- How long have you been practicing?
- Do you have experience working with businesses in my industry?
- How available will you be throughout the year?
- Do you have any questions for me?
If they don’t have any questions for you, run! You want to hire an accountant who is proactive and detailed. Even if they routinely work with businesses in your industry, it’s their job to know the ins and outs of your business. That starts at this first meeting!
Picking your perfect accountant is no easy task, but it’s worth your time and effort. You’re not just hiring someone to do your taxes! A great CPA will be able to provide valuable guidance to set your small business up for financial success. Want to cut down on your search time? Reach out to KYN today to connect with our team of trustworthy CPAs!