How to Select and Hire a Small Business Accountant

Entrepreneurs, accountants and CPA's reveal their best tips for hiring a small business accountant.

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Are you ready to hire a small business accountant? Staying on top of small business bookkeeping is important to the longevity and financial health of your company. As your business grows, your accounting needs will likely become more complex. Let’s face it — Microsoft Excel is not a long-term solution for your business accounting needs.

When you file your business taxes, do you have the expert guidance of an accountant? Are you unhappy with your current accountant? If you’re ready to hire someone to manage your business’ bookkeeping or looking for more strategic accounting partners to help you grow your business, there are a few things you should consider. So, we asked eleven entrepreneurs, accountants and CPA’s to reveal their best tips for hiring a small business accountant.

Here’s what they had to say:


1. Understand your business accounting needs.

“What are the top “must-have” skills for your accountant? Understand how much time [and] effort you need from an accountant [or] CPA firm. Do you hire or can you outsource your accounting needs? Ask associates, families and friends that you trust for referrals. Technology can lead the way – look up their credentials and other information on the Internet (i.e., Facebook, LinkedIn).”

– John Killoran, Manager, Brown Smith Wallace: @bswllc


2. Look for experience and reputation.

“Find one that has significant experience and maintains a positive reputation in big, successful firms. Accountants can make or break a business, so you want to at least start with one who knows what he or she is doing. Other factors, such as personality—whether or not the accountant values your company’s relationship with him or her—preferences, etc., can come after the qualifications and credentials.”

– Ian Aronovich, CEO of GovernmentAuctions.org: @govtauctions


3. Consider their credibility.

“It is important to ensure the accountant shows signs of credibility. A proven reputation as well as proper licensing and registration with national and state organizations is absolutely necessary. Do not be afraid to ask the accountant for references from clients who are in your same industry or have a similar set of business goals. The first accountant you speak with may not be a fit for your business. It may take speaking with more than one prospective advisor to find one that is a suitable match for the future goals of your business. ”

– Randall Jessup, Certified Public Accountant at BatesCarter: @BatesCarter


4. Find someone who understands your business.

“Chose a CPA that matches your personality and style of your business. All CPA’s have key competences, but specialties may be different. Find a CPA that understands your business, who can help with processes and strategy. Those are the CPA’s that will really help you grow your business and do it well.”

– Gabrielle Luoma, CPA, CGMA, Owner of GMLCPA PLLC: @GabrielleLuoma


5. Look for Big 4 auditing experience.

“Ask if the accountant has auditing experience, preferably at a large regional CPA firm or one of the Big 4. As a small business owner, efficient processes are critical in keeping operating expenses low. In addition to other skills, an accountant with auditing experience should know how to map business processes and remove inefficient steps and personnel.”

– Chris McCauley, President and CEO of Whizkins: @whizkins


6. Ask for references and referrals.

“[Develop] set criteria for what you need and get references or referrals. Not all accountants are the same, and most accountants have specific industries they focus on more than others. So be sure your accountant has the real-world experience with a company like yours. For referrals, ask people you know and trust who handles their accounting needs. If that accountant makes them happy, the
accountant will likely make you happy too. Most accountants rely on good-word of mouth for their clients and always want to do a good job for clients that provide them referrals.”

– Calvin Harris Jr., CPA, President – Change Management of Harvin Consulting: @harvinconsult

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