Choosing a small business accountant is serious business. Accountants are responsible for managing your business finances and sharing sound financial advice. They will spot possible problems, before they get out of hand, and most importantly, your accountant will teach you how to make the best decisions for your business.
Finding the right small business accountant can help you expand your business by saving money. However, it is also important to choose someone you can trust. Remember: this person will have full access to your financial information.
Below are five fundamentals every entrepreneur should consider when looking for an accountant.
Do they utilize current technology?
We live in the Information Age and advancements in technology have changed the way businesses operate. Entrepreneurs are now utilizing online tools such as Skype, virtual Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and cloud computing to manage daily operations. Platforms like these will streamline business processes and improve efficiency. Therefore, your accountant should be tech-oriented and up-to-date with what technology has to offer. In addition, he or she should understand changing trends and promote them to increase client value. Highlighting the significant benefits of technology creates a “circle of trust” between an accountant, owner and clients.
Can they manage time and find solutions?
Every business owner wants a reliable employee — someone who can manage their time effectively to meet deadlines. This expectation is no different when it comes to accounting needs. Managing business taxes is not a small affair, so it all boils down to being organized. If your accountant fails to meet deadlines, it can significantly affect your business. Aside from being reliable, accountants also need to be proactive. Since money is the oil of your business’ machine, entrepreneurs will need someone who can spot issues before they turn into problems. It is also essential to note that CPA’s must participate in continuing programs on tax laws and accounting practices. This ensures professionalism and familiarity with the latest accounting practices and taxation laws. Therefore, double check to ensure your accountant is undergoing these types of programs.
Match the right person with the right task.
An accountant with connections, or a strong professional network, is an asset. Entrepreneurs may also need the service of business strategists, legal advisors, insurance specialists and even bank managers. Good accountants can easily refer clients to these professionals to address future business concerns. Essentially, the needs of a business change and it is important for accountants to rapidly address it, since timely advice and can guidance builds trust and a healthy business relationship.
Seek the best and most compelling financial advice.
Ill-suited business accountants will focus solely on GST matters, financial statements, and tax returns in lieu of looking for solutions to help grow a business. However, good accountants will seek out innovations. They will not tell you what you want to hear, instead, they will tell you the truth to compel you to consider the best options to protect business assets. Remember, avoiding difficult conversations will only result in problems along the way.
Consider essential character traits.
Is your accountant trustworthy, honest, and personable? Honesty, when it pertains to financial matters, is one of the most important traits you should look for in an accountant. Check their credentials, confirm their license is registered, and ask around for references. It’s also not a bad idea to arrange meetings with different accountants. Ask questions regarding their experiences and familiarity with your business type and industry. Listen to their answers and take note. Meanwhile ensure your accountant’s style is compatible with yours. Getting along on a personal level is just as important as their know-how to forge a strong working relationship.
Forging a successful relationship with an accountant is a two-way street. As an entrepreneur, don’t forget to do your part. Organize business receipts, records, and financial statements. Spend time with your accountant to clarify any issues which will affect your business. Appreciating their value strengthens the relationship and listening to their advice will enable your business to soar.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Barbara Verner is a business and finance freelance writer residing in Adelaide, Australia, and writing on behalf of Lawrence Business Management — an accounting and business advisory firm providing services to privately held and public small to medium enterprises in Western Australia. Connect with @LawrenceBusinessManagement on Facebook.
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