As a small business owner, you may be tempted to do as much as possible on your own, but you’ll soon find that this isn’t sustainable. Further, you likely didn’t go into business to read legal documents, stare at numbers, or fix technical issues, so it makes sense to get some specialized support.
While you’re doing what you do best, insurance agents, attorneys, IT specialists, and accountants can work behind the scenes to ensure that your business remains a well-oiled machine. Since your financial health is vital, having an accountant you can trust will be an invaluable resource. They can help with budgeting, tax preparation, planning, and cash flow management. But how do you find the right accountant when there are so many choices?
Finding the Right Accountant for Your Business
When you work with an accountant, your goal should be to create a relationship with a trusted advisor that can help your business achieve its strategic and financial goals. Plenty of accountants have shiny websites with slick marketing copy. But, those messages won’t necessarily help you determine who is the best fit for your organization.
Many small businesses find their accountant through referrals. Ask other small business owners about their experiences. If you attend networking events, these are excellent sources of information and contacts. Whether you have access to referrals or not, you can narrow down your choices by asking the right questions.
Questions to Ask When Evaluating Your Accountant Candidates
Once you have a few candidates on your list, you’ll want to briefly interview them to find the one that best suits your needs. Instead of making it up as you go, it’s helpful to have a prepared list of questions for each company so that you can compare the answers and make an informed choice.
Here are some questions that you can ask when looking for an accountant for your small business:
- “Do you employ bookkeepers, accountants, CPAs, or a combination of these?” A bookkeeper can pay your sales taxes and record transactions, but won’t be able to give you tax or financial advice. An accountant can’t represent you with the IRS. A CPA has the most knowledge of the tax codes and can prepare your company’s financial statements.
- “What is your experience with small businesses?” Small businesses often face unique challenges, such as cash flow concerns. Find out how much of the accountant’s business is with smaller entities.
- “Are you familiar with my industry?” Some industries and types of business (like franchises) face certain financial challenges. Ask about their background with yours.
- “How will you become familiar with my business?” Find out how the accountant will get to know you and your business so that you have peace of mind about your choice.
- “What is your range of services?” Many accountants offer a variety of services, while others specialize in payroll or tax preparation. Find one that meets your full range of needs.
- “How will you bill me?” Some accountants work on retainer and others charge by the hour. Get this information upfront, so you aren’t faced with any surprises.
- “Who will be my point of contact?” Ask who your “point person” will be with any questions or concerns as you move forward.
Orcutt & Company provides comprehensive accounting services to small business clients throughout the Cincinnati area. We offer multiple services plans that include bookkeeping, tax preparation, payroll, advisory, and support for Quickbooks. Contact us to learn more about how we can support your small business.