A great accountant can be a huge help to any small business. An accountant does more than just record financial transactions, crunch numbers and put them into easy to read statements. If that’s all your small business needs you can probably get by with a bookkeeper. The best accountants take all your financial information and analyse it, then act as a business consultant, helping you grow and achieve your business goals.
Services to consider
- Personal financial advice: As a small business owner your personal finances and business finances may be quite closely connected. You’ll want an accountant who can advise on both issues, helping you grow your business and helping you plan for your own financial future.
- Tax planning: Your account should go beyond simply filling out the required tax forms each year. They should be working with you throughout the year, planning tax time with you and advising you of new tax laws and how they can affect your business.
- Business consultant: After crunching the numbers, your accountant should be able to advise your business in different areas. They may be able to offer advice related to pricing, major business related upgrades, leasing decisions, expansion and other financial issues.
Be sure to check your accountant’s qualifications. Are they certified or chartered? These qualifications mean the accountant has had to pass certain exams and will be up-to-date with all the appropriate laws.
Small business experience
As you’re running a small business, you want an accountant who has experience with other small businesses. He or she will understand the hurdles and challenges small businesses encounter and have suggestions to overcome these issues. Also check to see if they work with other businesses within your industry. This would enable them to offer more effective, relevant advice. If the accountant works within a smaller business or consultancy themselves, then they’ll be in a great position to see things from the perspective of a small business owner.
Interviews and referrals
If you’re going to be working with this person regularly and rely on his or her advice, make sure you get on well and can forge a successful business relationship. If possible, have a few meetings with them to see if the two of you work well together. Also, interview a few prospective accountants; it’s worth taking your time so you make the right decision. Find out what specialist services they offer small businesses and how have they helped other businesses grow. Ask for referrals and follow them up. Find out as much information as you can before choosing.
You’ll also need to find out how much an accountant is going to charge you. Depending on the services you require, you could be charged a recurring monthly fee or by the hour. You may even be charged for phone calls. See if you can keep the fees down by preparing your financial statements beforehand. A good accountant is worth the investment, but make sure you know what services you’re paying for.