How do you go about finding a good accountant?
This question is on the lips of many small business owners and freelancers when they decide to hire outside assistance for their business finances. Working with a professional can ease your money worries, reduce research and analysis time, and ensure you’re on secure financial ground going forward.
Yet choosing the right accountant for your unique requirements can be a pain in itself, especially if you’ve never hired one before.
It can be challenging to know where to even begin. How exactly do you select the right professional for your unique business and financial situation?
How an accountant benefits small business owners
As we covered in our previous article here on Invoice Ninja, hiring a professional accountant to prepare, examine, and interpret your business finances is often a wise decision.
With only a set number of hours in an already busy day, the last thing you want to be doing as a solopreneur or start-up founder is trying to decipher the world of business finances on your own. This is especially the case during a financial recession or when working at home with young kids.
Business finance a complicated subject with a myriad of different rules and regulations. It’s nearly impossible for the layperson to understand every facet and feature of the gigantic small business finance landscape. Plus, without the right financial recording structures in place early on, it’s all too easy to lose track of your finances altogether.
So whether you’re a freelancer, solopreneur, small business owner, or start-up entrepreneur, hiring a professional accountant makes good business sense.
Things to consider when choosing an accountant
Finding a capable accountant can be daunting. From a cursory Google search, many accountancy firms and professionals all seem somewhat similar. Yet, just like with all service providers in every industry, there are good accountants and not so good accountants. Choosing the right one is critical.
With this in mind, here are some things to consider when searching for the perfect accountant for your business.
Like in any industry, there are accountants with particular specialisms which are important to note. As a freelancer or small business owner, it’s pointless making contact with an accountancy firm working specifically with big international corporations.
Instead, look for accountants who at least devote an entire page on their website to small business accounting services. Better yet, connect with those who specialize solely in working with small businesses. They’ll understand your needs and concerns while also pricing their services accordingly.
Some accountancy professionals specialise in specific industries. This specialism gives them a better grasp of unique financial matters and structures in those sectors, which in turn will benefit your business.
It’s sensible to enquire whether the professional accountant has experience working with your business setup and structure. If they do, they will likely have developed processes and systems that make things a lot easier, faster, and more effective for everyone concerned.
The vast majority of accountants offer auditing and tax services. But what about if you need more than these core services? Perhaps you also require ongoing bookkeeping, risk assessments, and other services vital to your business finances.
Research the essential services you need and then check the website service pages of promising accountants. If the professional hasn’t listed the particular service, it might be a red light suggesting it’s not something they offer.
Probably one of the best ways to judge the professionalism and ability of an accountant is from the reviews they have received. They may have testimonials on their website, which are important, but it’s often from third-party reviews where you gain a better insight.
There are numerous consumer review sites that provide a public gauge of whether a business is trustworthy or not. Google also allows people to leave reviews, which show up as star ratings. However, these can be positively or negatively influenced, so it’s wise to keep that in mind.
Certifications and accreditations
Any accountant you check must have the relevant certifications and accreditations applicable to your country. In the United States, your chosen professional needs to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Other countries, such as the UK, have similar bodies such as ICAEW.
Again, check their website for an accreditation or industry association page, which will list their certifications and memberships.
Strong professional image
If you’re a freelancer or entrepreneur, you’ll know better than most people how important a robust professional image is to your brand. Capable and experienced accountants will have nicely designed websites, professional headshots, clear informative website copy, and all the right certifications.
Anything less and you risk working with a professional who cuts corners and lets things slide. A professional image is everything, and it’s a good demonstration of how seriously they treat their business reputation and clients.
When everything else is equal, we often choose a service provider based on how much we like their character and manner. It’s hard to overstate how important a personal connection is when selecting the best accountant for your freelancing or small business needs.
The world feels a much nicer place when you’re working with nice friendly people. The right accountant will be patient, personable, and always willing to explain complicated subjects in a way you can understand. They’ll be a good conversationalist.
Trust your gut instinct when you first chat with a prospective accountant. If something feels off, then look elsewhere.
Why getting referrals is a good strategy
Perhaps the very best way to find your perfect accountant is through referrals from other freelancers and business owners. Ask people you trust about who they work with on matters of finance and why that person is the right choice.
A direct referral through your social network is more likely to fulfill most or all of the above requirements. This word-of-mouth approach is how many service providers gain the majority of their clients and is an excellent way to find trustworthy professionals.
Find your perfect small business accountant
Finding a good accountant for your small business need not be complicated or stressful. With some careful research and a chat with colleagues and partners, you’ll soon develop a list of possibilities.
Go through the list and check the parameters mentioned above. In no time at all, you’ll be well on your way to healthier business finances and records. Plus, you’ll go a long way to reducing money anxiety and other business fears.