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How to Hire the Right Accountant: Use these 4 tips

There comes a time for most small business owners when it is prudent to hire an accountant.  While many owners start out by keeping track of their finances themselves, a wise business owner will realize that as the business grows, there are advantages to having an accountant.

First, an accountant who understands tax laws and bookkeeping can navigate the maze. They should know the specific advantages or expenses you can take advantage of and what deductions your business is eligible for.  Second, they can keep you informed about tax changes.  Third, they can guide you in the right direction with your business and give advice on how to grow and manage it.  Finally, they can give you advice on how to save for retirement.  However, how does one find the right accountant?  Keep reading to find some helpful tips in this area.

Tip 1: Referrals

Word of mouth is one of the best means at your disposal.  By asking other small business owners, friends, and family, one may come across a great fit.  Be sure to specify what your business is and ask how satisfied they are with the service they have received.  Another place to refer is your local trade association, and last but not least, one can Google the internet.  Try to find the names of 3–5 accountants that you can then research further.

Tip 2: Inquire

Once you have 3–5 names, call to make some general inquiries about their services.  Be sure to practice your due diligence by checking their background, credentials, and experience.  Once you have this information, narrow your search to the best 1, or preferably 2, and ask if you might be able to meet in person.  This step is important.  Hiring an accountant with knowledge is one thing, but being able to communicate well with one another and have rapport is quite another.  Remember, this is likely to be a long-term relationship, and they will not only be responsible for preparing your taxes but will also help you build a blueprint for your business.

  Tip 3: Be Prepared

Prior to meeting with the potential candidates, it is important to take the time to prepare a short list of questions to ask.  The questions might include:

  • State your qualifications. How many years of experience do you have?
  • How much experience do you have with not only my industry but also the size of my business?
  • What added value will you bring to my business in addition to compliance?
  • Please provide your fee structure.  Do you charge by the project or by the time you spend?
  • Please describe the technology you use. It is important that they are up to date.  Cloud-based is best, as you will be able to access financials in real-time.  (In addition, technology ensures smooth coordination.)
  • Do you have a policy with regards to calls and emails? If so, what is it?
  • How long will it take you to get back to me if I call or email?

Tip 4: Meet in Person

Having done your due diligence and prepared your short list of questions, meet with the candidate(s).  Be sure to engage in an open exchange so that the candidate can also ask questions.  As stated earlier, this is an invaluable step.  Once you are satisfied, hire your new accountant.

Utilizing the previous 4 tips will help in your search to find the accountant that is the right fit for you and your small business.

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