An accountant is critical for any small business. Accountants help you organize and plan for taxes, comply with tax law, and ensure a business pays no more than obligation requires. They also help employers decide if they should be doing accrual or tax-based accounting.
Below, we have laid out five steps on how to find a small business accountant that will suit your needs.
How to Find a Small Business Accountant:
1. Determine if you are capable of handling your own taxes, or whether you need a professional.
Complying with tax laws is a vital aspect of running a successful business. Besides assisting with everyday bookkeeping, accountants can save you money and help to minimize your tax liability.
In the U.S., small businesses that earn $200,000 or more per year are more likely to be audited by the IRS. However, an accountant will be able to guide you through this daunting process. Moreover, if you have more than 5 employees, an accountant can manage your payroll and ensure that you comply with tax rules and regulations.
2. Ask people in your industry for referrals.
Ask your family or friends, a business advisor, or other business owners if they can recommend any good accountants. If that doesn't pan out, you can always attend networking events at your local Small Business Development Center or contact the Chamber of Commerce.
3. Use trusted sources to find a certified accountant.
- CPAdirectory.com - The largest online database for Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) in the United States.
- The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) - A national professional organization of CPAs.
- The IRS Directory - Find a vetted list of tax return preparers, CPAs, and attorneys.
- Accountant-finder.com - Quickly find accountants and CPAs in your area.
- Accounting Firms - Select reputable accounting firms in your area and give them a call.
- Your Accounting Software - Many accounting software companies can connect you with independent accounting pros that are trained in using their software.
- Remote Job Sites - A large pool of accountants and CPAs work remotely.
4. Evaluate your prospective accountant, and make sure they have a CPA license.
Once you've selected a few accountants, you will need to vet them personally. A CPA is a highly important asset in any business, as they are able to analyze the bookkeeper's information and provide insight and advice on taxation, financial management, and the continual growth of the business.
Prepare a list of questions and schedule a time to meet each accountant in-person or via a live video chat if they do not live in your state. Ask them about their credentials, experience, the services they offer, and their fees and pricing structure, as you'll want to hire someone within your budget.
You should also ask for a copy of their credentials and search for customer reviews on Yelp and social media. Finally, be sure to validate their credentials by contacting the professional organization they are associated with.
Good accountants are trustworthy, detail-oriented, highly organized and effective communicators. Make sure that you feel comfortable with the person you're thinking of hiring, and that their personality and temperament does not clash with yours.
What questions should I ask a prospective accountant?
- Where do you see potential for us to save on taxes?
- Do you see any potential tax issues with our current accounting?
- How long have you been an accountant?
- What are your credentials?
- How many small businesses have you worked with?
- What type of services do you offer?
- Which accounting software are you familiar with?
- How much do you charge for your services?
- How do you bill clients?
- How can you help me grow my business?
- When and how do we communicate with you?
How much does it cost to have an accountant for a small business?
Fees vary according to experience, but accountants typically charge between $25.00 - $180.00 or more per hour, depending on the type of services you need. CPAs generally charge more than accountants, owing to their extra qualifications and experience. Some accountants also work on a retainer fee.
Do you need an accountant for a small business?
Even if you use accounting software and do your own bookkeeping, an accountant is essential for a small business to succeed. Besides filing taxes, accountants offer sound business advice and will alert you to financial irregularities. They also save you valuable time so that you can concentrate on growing your business.
Do I need an accountant if I am self-employed?
It's not mandatory to hire an accountant if you are self-employed, but an expert can be a great benefit to your business, especially if you're not clued up on certain aspects such as tax laws and financial reporting.
Should I hire a bookkeeper or an accountant?
You may need both. Bookkeepers manage the day-to-day financial tasks of a business, such as submitting invoices, paying bills, and recording company expenses.
On the other hand, accountants analyze your financials and provide strategic insights on profit and loss, as well as growth projections.