How to choose an accountant for your small business

Proper financial management is one of the most important factors in the success of a small business. Before or soon after you start your business, you will want to hire an accountant to manage your finances and help your new venture flourish.

We often think of accountants as filers of taxes, but their role can be much more hands-on. Unless you are a whiz at money management, it’s a good idea to work with an accountant who can provide all the financial services you need. This ensures that nothing falls through the cracks and that your cash flow allows you to pay bills in a timely manner. When you are ready for the next stage in building your business, a good accountant will be able to advise you so you don’t take on more than you can chew.

Choosing an account for your small business

The first conversation with a potential accountant should include a list of services he or she offers. Ask about investment advice, bookkeeping and business audits. CPAs are trained in these fields and should be willing to offer you these services in between tax reports. Look for package deals, where free or inexpensive advice comes automatically with tax services.

Online accounting software

Your accountant should work with online accounting software. When your real-time record keeping is available to your accountant, financial management will be much more streamlined. Your accountant can keep track of outgoing bills and let you know immediately if he spots an issue that could lead to a cash flow problem. And you can see your records clearly and ask the accountant if any questions arise from your end. Instead of relying on few and far between in-person meetings, most of your accounting conversations will take place online and both you and the accountant stay updated at all times.

If you already work with online accounting software, ask a potential accountant whether he is familiar with the platform. If you haven’t started using any platform yet, ask him for recommendations on which software to choose. You’ll be able to tell immediately how knowledgeable he is on the subject and whether he can help you make an informed decision.

Blogging and Social Media

An accountant who uses social media and writes a blog is a great asset. If your accountant is reachable via social media, you can easily ask her a question from your mobile phone and get a quick answer. And if she is writing and disseminating content about the financial concerns of small businesses, you can educate yourself by reading up on relevant issues. Another advantage of working with an accountant who is active on these platforms is that you can be sure that she is on top of twenty-first century technology and can direct you to the best ways to manage your finances with software and apps.

A trustworthy accountant

In your initial meeting with an accountant, ask yourself whether you trust him. Since he is going to be dealing with your money, this is key. As your financial confidante, your accountant has to be someone you feel comfortable speaking frankly with. And it’s crucial that you feel he has your best interests at heart and wants your business to succeed. Since small businesses often have their household expenses intertwined with their business ones, the accountant has to be someone you are comfortable speaking to about your personal finances as well.

Once that you have ascertained that an accountant is trustworthy, familiar with the internet and online accounting software, and offers a holistic approach to financial management, you can ask about pricing. When comparing prices between various accountants, make a list of what services you get for each price. Choose the one who gives you the most bang for your buck, or the one you feel most comfortable with. And remember that a relationship with an accountant, while it should be long-term, is not a life-long commitment. If you aren’t happy, find a new accountant who will contribute to making your business dreams a reality.