Hiring an accountant for your business is a major step and can help set you on the path of fiscal success. However, there are many different types of specialists, and it’s not always easy to identify which one will be a good fit for your needs. Use this page as a guide to ensure your search gets off to the best start possible.
1. Identify Your Needs
This may sound a bit trite. After all, you’ve already decided you need an accountant, but you’ll have to dig a bit deeper than that and uncover which tasks you want this person to do for you and how much time you want them to spend working for your business. If you’re running a small business, you may not need someone working in-house or full-time. In these cases, you’ll want to choose someone who is available to cover a specific set of tasks on a recurring basis or can be on call as you need help. Moreover, there are three different types of specialists who routinely fall into the “accountant” bracket, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the titles and the capabilities each one has.
A bookkeeper will help you stay organized. Some basic tasks a bookkeeper can assist with include setting up accounting software, entering invoices and receipts, generating statements, handling payroll data, and quarterly taxes. However, a bookkeeper is neither a financial analyst nor a tax specialist, so you’ll need to work with someone who possesses a higher level of expertise if you require assistance in these areas.
A true accountant can do everything a bookkeeper will and can also interpret and analyze your data as well as tackle your taxes. Naturally, they tend to charge a bit more for their services, too.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
A CPA is an accountant who has passed a rigorous state exam and will therefore be the most qualified of the three to assist you with your needs, but will also have the highest rates. If you ever need a certified audit, a CPA is the only one who can do it. A CPA is also the one you want on hand if you’re establishing a business or need help with tax planning.
2. Consider Your Preferred Software and Theirs
Your accountant will want you to use the software he or she is most comfortable with. We went over a few types in “4 Easy-to-Use Small Business Accounting Tools,” but the most common is QuickBooks. If you’re already using it or one that will allow you to export your data to it, chances are you’ll be set. However, if you’re using an alternative, you’ll need to be especially cautious that you’re searching specifically for accountants who use the same software as you are or be prepared to switch.
3. Look for Niche-Related Experience
There are two areas you’ll want to focus on here. The first is finding someone who regularly works with businesses the same size as yours. Some cater to large companies while others do more one-on-one with sole-proprietors, and of course, there are accountants who cover everything in between.
The second area to address is your industry. For example, if you’re in the transportation industry, you want someone who is going to be able to tell you if the new tires you put on your rig qualify you for a deduction, and how to set up your company in a way that minimizes your tax liabilities.
4. Listen for Mentions of Savings and Efficiencies
A really great accountant isn’t just going to punch numbers on a calculator and call it a day. He or she is going to be searching for new ways to help your business become more efficient or cut back expenses. As you meet with various accountants prior to hiring one, listen carefully to his or her approach to make sure the accountant you hire is looking out for your bottom line every bit as much as you do.
5. Do the Math, But Know the Person
There are naturally going to be cost differences between the rates charged by bookkeepers, accountants and CPAs, but it’s important to note that there can be differences in rates and fee structures within each group, too. For example, accountants may charge anywhere from $100 per hour to $300, while others may charge a monthly fee. Find out what tasks will be covered and, if going with the hourly rate, how long specific tasks generally take. You can also ask how much businesses like yours typically allot for accounting expenses.
Once you have hard numbers or estimates, consider what each candidate brings to the table. Does the person have the skills you need now? Will the accountant be able to handle more challenging tasks as your business grows? Is the candidate someone who will be focused helping you improve your bottom line? When you have yeses in all three areas and your personalities mesh, you’ve found yourself a good match.
Interstate Capital Can Help You Find a Great Accountant and Assist with Your Cash Flow Needs
Interstate Capital is an invoice factoring company. We help companies solve cash flow issues by purchasing their unpaid invoices, providing immediate payment for them, and collecting payment from the end-customer. However, we also offer a number of value-added services designed to help our clients thrive, and this includes referrals to partners who offer services like accounting, tax preparation, and more. If you’re already a client of Interstate Capital, check with your account manager to see which of our partners are a good fit for your business. If you’re not already established with us, start with a free cash flow consultation to assess your needs.