How to Choose the Best Accountant for Your Business
Choosing an accountant is like choosing a new business partner. The right accountant will become a trusted colleague you can depend on, who offers advice and guidance as your small business grows. So what are the top things you need to look out for?
Hire an accountant when you’re ready to delegate
As a small business owner, no doubt one of the things you like best is that you have control. You can set your own working hours, craft your business strategy, regulate your workload (at least to some extent) and determine your own finances. And being the master of all of these things is a wonderful and liberating feeling.
But sometimes it can stop you from delegating. Business owners can feel overworked, partly due to a reluctance to allow other people to help out. You might feel that no one can possibly know your business as well as you do, therefore nobody can handle any part of your business as well as you can.
Delegating your company’s financial affairs is a good start. You need to choose the right accountant and make sure you trust them with your company’s financial information. Once you’ve handed over your company’s finances to someone more experienced in accountancy than you are, you will have more time to concentrate on other aspects of your business.
Choosing the Right Accountant: Hiring a Firm Versus an Inside Accountant
Many entrepreneurs who launch their own businesses start out by wearing the accountant’s hat and doing your own taxes, in addition to doing just about everything else in the business, too. It’s become easier for a layperson to keep track of a business’ finance with the advent of simple bookkeeping software, such as QuickBooks, Quicken, and Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting. But there comes a time in a growing enterprise when it makes sense to hand over responsibilities for taxes, accounting, and the rest of the financial functions to specialists.
The right accountant can help a business with not only tax returns, but with longer term tax planning, business planning, networking, and even personal tax planning if your still the major stakeholder in your business. Before you can find the right accountant, you need to determine if you need an accounting firm or an inside accountant.
An accounting firm usually handles the following accounting functions:
- Tax return preparation
- Preparing financial statements, including the balance sheet, income statement, and statement of cash
- Analysis and problem-solving advice
Duties and responsibilities of an in-house accountant usually include:
- General ledger/chart of account maintenance
- Responsibility for daily transactions
- Financial statement preparation and analysis
- Cost accounting and variance analysis
- Treasury and cash management including bank reconciliations
- Payroll and fixed asset accounting
Decide how the accounting work will be divided
Accountants can handle every aspect of bookkeeping and small business accounting. In most cases, you can bundle up your bills and invoices, hand them all over, and they can do the rest. But this might not always be the best approach.
Accountants often charge by the hour, so making them do simple data-entry tasks is not the best use of their time – time that you’re paying for. So take charge and get more involved in the accounting process (if you can). This will give you a better grasp of expenses and revenues in real time and a heads-up on potential problems.
If all of this sounds more like a marriage than a business relationship, there’s a good reason for that! Your accountant will become intimately involved with the operation of your company so it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. You will need one you can trust, who has the necessary experience and who will be there when you need them.
Good accountants help companies grow, by managing complex financial work and offering advice on practical business issues.