If you need small business tax advice or any advice on starting a business, be sure you get a good accountant.
Do not look through a phone book to find an accountant. There is a better way. After all, an accountant can become a trusted adviser, the gateway not only to your accounting systems and tax returns, but a trusted source who can introduce you to other advisers.
I have developed criteria that will help you narrow down your list of potential accountants and find the one that is right for you!
After all, the future of your business may depend on it.
Criteria for Finding an Accountant
Size of firm
Large firms, particularly those that cater to large multinational companies can be cold and treat your account like it’s small potatoes. They are also likely to charge highly for their services.
Conversely, smaller accounting firms that are run solely by one individual tend to be overburdened with returns, and also have trouble giving your situation the attention it deserves. With that in mind, the goal for most businesses should be to find a happy middle ground.
Make sure during the interview process that your accountant will have the time and inclination to work with you on a continuing basis, not just once a year at tax time.
The short list supplied to you should consist only of accountants familiar with the tax laws; it is equally important to retain an accountant with a personality and with whom you can relate.
Personality is an important factor for consideration, because good accountants talk with their clients about more than just numbers. They should talk about the client’s income and spending habits. They also proactively identify possible deductions, and are approachable and willing to answer questions for their clients.
During the interview determine whether the accountant is approachable and has the communications skills necessary to build and maintain a fruitful business relationship.
Your Accounting Needs
Remember that your accountant can help you with much more than just your small business tax advice. The questionnaire is set up to find out from you what kind of accounting needs you have.
You might be surprised at the diversity of needs your accountant can fulfill. Question your potential accountant to make sure your needs will be met. Important considerations may include:
- Do You Need to Be Incorporated?
- Do You Need Payroll Services?
- How Many Employees Do You Have?
- What Type of Entity is Your Business?
- How Long Have You Been in Business?
- Your Company’s Revenues Last Year?
- What Industry are You In?
What type of accounting services do you need? Not all accountants will do each of these or do them all well.
- Small Business Accounting
- Financial Statements
- Financial Planning
- IRS Representation
- Online Bookkeeping
- Small Business Tax Advice
Interview the Accountant Finalists
Once you receive your short list of accountants personally picked for you according to the criteria you have indicated, interview each of them.
Your objective is to find the best possible accountant for you.
Doing Your Own Bookkeeping
Funds may be stretched, especially when starting a business so you may need to do your own accounting work. One site I recommend that also provides free spreadsheet templates is BasicAccountingHelp.com