Choosing the Right
For most small businesses,
their outside accountant can be one of their most important business resources.
Not only will the accountant be involved with preparing tax returns and
financial statements, many accountants become trusted advisors that offer
suggestions on many aspects of the business. Choosing the right one is
What services do
With all the user-friendly software available, most small businesses handle
day-to-day bookkeeping tasks internally. Accountants are usually needed
to prepare tax returns, prepare audited financial statements (if needed)
and to provide advice from time to time.
What should you
- Find an accountant
that has experience with organizations similar to yours. An accountant
that understands your issues can be a source of advice and you will
not run up charges as they learn about your business.
- The accountant
should be knowledgeable about the income tax issues faced by small businesses.
Since many small businesses are sole proprietorships, partnerships or
sub-chapter S corporations, the taxable income or loss of your business
will ultimately be reported on your personal tax return and you want
your accountant to help reduce the taxes you will owe.
- " Look at
the personality of the accountant before you hire them. Is this person
someone you feel comfortable with? Arrange for an interview to get a
sense of the person and how he or she would work with you.
Finding the right
- You can get a list
of local accountants in the Yellow Pages, but better sources may be
your banker or other business owners in your area.
- Find out how an
accountant is viewed by the local business community. An accountant's
connections and relationships may become very important to you if you
need financing or ultimately want to sell your business.
- It isn't always
necessary to use the services of a large firm. While large firms have
extensive resources, they are also expensive. With a large firm, you
may also not get the attention you need because they are focused on
larger clients. However, many large accounting firms are aggressive
and successful with their small business practices.
Working with your
- Remember that most
accountants charge by the hour. Before initiating a relationship, have
a conversation about billing rates and expectations of hours needed
for your work. It also is a good idea to have the understanding that
the accountant will notify you if their time (and billing) approaches
or exceeds a predetermined amount.
- Be prepared when
you work with your accountant. Have all your records organized and be
ready with any questions.
Your accountant can be part of your team for a successful business. Find
the right one, take advantage of their expertise and use their time and