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Selecting a Small Business Accountant

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Selecting a Small Business Accountant

Published: November 4, 2009 Updated: February 10, 2011

Many small business owners do their finances and taxes on their own, so you may ask: why should I find an accountant? The reason: no matter what stage your small business is in, you can benefit from having an accountant on your side.

Why Hire an Accountant?

  • Accountants often do more than prepare tax forms for their small business clients. They can act as a trusted consultant and advisor to your small business. A good accountant would be able to advise you on growth opportunities, risk management, bookkeeping, and general financial planning.
  • If your small business is closely tied to your personal finances, a good accountant can help you make sound judgments that are beneficial to both your personal finances and your small business. This guidance can be especially helpful when you're just starting up and using your own funds to finance business expenses.
  • Accountants can serve as a great resource that you can tap into for recommendations on which loans to apply for, banks that satisfy your small business needs, and whatever you need on the finance end.

Good Practices for Choosing an Accountant
Here are some tips for avoiding common pitfalls and needless headaches in your search for a small business accountant:

  • Determine your needs
    There is no one-size-fits-all method for managing small business finances. Make sure that your accountant specializes in small businesses, and ideally has knowledge of your industry. Beyond that, you will need to decide what level of support is appropriate and affordable for your business. Enrolled agents, certified public accountants, and tax attorneys bring different skills and charge different rates.
  • Just ask!
    Word of mouth is a good way to find good accountants. Talk to your family, friends, peers, even your attorney for recommendations. You can also inquire with institutions and organizations like the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants*, your state Board of Accountants, or a local Chamber of Commerce.
  • Interview your candidates
    Remember that you are hiring someone that will fulfill your business needs and requirements. Treat it like a job interview that you would give to any potential employee. Ask about:
    • Professional qualifications like their licenses and experience
    • Personnel who will actually do the work, and their response times
    • Fees and charges to make sure they are in line with your budget
    • Specialized services that you may want in the future - for example, audit support
    • Clientele (past and current) so you can gauge their expertise

What if My Current Accountant Isn't a Good Fit?
If you had a bad experience with an accountant, take what you've learned to find a better fit for your business. You should also consider your timing - if you're just about to file significant tax changes or take on a large financial project, you'll want to leave yourself enough time to find someone new. After all, a rush to judgment could leave you in the same position you're in.

Remember...

You are the person who is ultimately responsible for your taxes and finances. Be wary of accountants who promise things that seem too good to be true. If you have concerns about an accountant's claims you should contact your state's Board of Accountancy* and/or the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility to check their licenses and ensure they are in good standing.

Related Resources:

Need a Lawyer? How to Find Legal Representation for Your Small Business

Need Help Starting a Business? Get the Right Kind of Advice & Take Control of Your Start-Up!
FTC's Facts for Consumers Guide
Loans, Grants, and Taxes discussion board

SCORE's tips on How to Find a Good Accountant

*Note: Hyperlink directs reader to non-government web site.

Message Edited by ChristineL on 11-04-2009 10:25 AM

About the Author:

Comments:

Looking to start up an internet company in USA. Our platform will be hosted in a third party server. I would like to know more about the taxation (i know that there is a 20% small business tax for resident companies but other people say that with credit is possible to reduce the tax to a very low rate). Also i desire to know what is the more interesting State considering that we'll have consistent sales tax to pay. thank you. Roberto
Hiring of professional accountant for the small business not only helps to prepare tax forms, but also acts as an advisor to the business. General financial planning, bookkeeping services and risk management are important concerned areas for which a good accountant is expected to excel. You will be benefited by his expert advice and help growing your small business.
It's a nice article for small business owners to have an account in their firm to manage all accounts related stuff. But, here I would like to add one more point which is missing here - Every business must have to buy account and payroll software which is the best substitute for professional accountant and more beneficial if you choose right one as your business needs. To know more about Accounting and Payroll Software, visit here: http://www.eilisys.com/product-Ascent-Payroll.php
A good accountant can save you a lot of headaches. Develop a good relationship with a trusted CPA to help you grow your business and stay compliant with the increasing regulations.
Is there one type of accountant better for S Corps than LLCs or C Corps?
Accounting/bookkeeping is one of the three essential pillars of business success and yet this one is often neglected to the detriment of the business long term health. Contract Bookkeepers/Accountants can handle most small business needs at very minimal monthly fees. They are a tremendous partner for a small output, in fact they should be able to bring more to the table than what they cost you. Foremost Business Solutions www.foremostbizsolutions.com
For small business owners this tips are very helpful. Having an accountant is just like having a guide book to your expenses. I have some interesting advice to all small business owners out there. Hope you can have a visit to my blog. Thanks for this great post Christine! Charles Baratta ---This post was edited to remove a commercial link. Read our discussion policies for more Community best practices.
This article includes good, solid advice for small businesses. Bringing a professional in to consult with you or lend a hand with your bookkeeping makes good sense. I have worked with several small business owners who attempted to handle the bookkeeping on their own, in addition to running the day-to-day operations of their businesses. Unfortunately this situation can result in missing or incorrect accounting information, as well as amended tax returns. Trying to make business decisions without accurate financial information is like working in the dark! LisaAtlanta Professional Accounting LLCwww.atlantaprofessionalaccounting.com Message Edited by NicoleD on 11-13-2009 09:30 AM
That's a good thought to keep in mind. There a re lots of things to consider when venturing on this kind of business. Having small business merchant accounts will save you from a lot of things.Message Edited by NicoleD on 11-09-2009 09:43 AM

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