One of the most important decisions you will make when starting your new business is choosing the right accounting service. It’s a lot like selecting a new partner for your business. The right accounting professional will become a reliable associate that saves you time, money, and helps your business grow. The wrong account can cost you money that you could be using elsewhere.
When you begin your search for an accounting service, the options will be a little overwhelming at first. Once search on Google for accounting services will yield as many as 17 million results! To make it even more confusing, there are several different types of services to choose from, too. Do you need a tax preparation service, an outsourced accounting and bookkeeping service, managerial accounting, a payroll service, or do you want a service that covers all of your accounting needs in one place?
So, how do make this very important decision? First of all, take your time. Meet with at least three candidates before you decide. Consider the whole picture, including location and budget. Make sure you are a good match because once you establish this relationship, you are going to be working with this person for years to come.
The Most Important Things to Consider When Hiring an Accounting Service
Before the days of the internet, it was necessary to have your accounting service close by. Nowadays, more and more businesses are utilizing cloud-based technology to collaborate with their business associates in real time, so location is really no longer an issue if you’re willing to use an online accounting service. Your accountant could be located across the country.
However, if you are a business owner that prefers face-to-face contact, and you need an accountant that can attend important meetings with you, you will need to keep your search local. Either way, make sure the accountant you choose is up to date on the tax rules and laws that will apply to your situation.
2. Consider Your Needs and Objectives
One of the first things to decide on is what you need from your accounting service. Do you need someone on a weekly basis to handle payroll? If you use a good bookkeeping software, you might only need to have an accountant look at your books once a month, or quarterly, to keep you on track. Just don’t wait until tax time to bring in a professional because that can cost you more in the end.
3. Make Sure They are Certified or Chartered
A chartered or certified accountant will have more knowledge and experience than one who is not. That means they can to jump right in and add business value right away. While you can find bookkeeping and tax services from people who aren’t certified (and probably charge less), it’s best to start out with a certified professional right from the start because you will need one as your gets bigger, or if you are ever flagged for an audit.
4. Look for Someone with Relevant Experience
Look for a service that has experience working with companies similar in size, revenue, and market sectors to yours. Do you plan to use software that is cloud-based to keep track of and exchange your financial records? If so, make sure they’re knowledgeable in this area. You should find out if they work with larger clients because you need them to be able to handle the changing needs of your business as it grows.
5. Consider Your Budget
Having an in-house accounting staff is probably going to be out of range for most small businesses. In fact, if your business is new, you probably don’t have the volume of financial transactions that would require a full-time accountant. You may be surprised to find out how much money can save by hiring an online accounting service. You will have many of the benefits of having an in-house accounting team at a fraction of the cost. Don’t be afraid to negotiate fees before you sign on the dotted line and be sure to get all quotes in writing. Don’t make your decision on the spot, take your quotes with you and compare them carefully.
6. Talk to Local Business Associations and Business Owners
There are a lot of resources out there for small business owners, and you should not hesitate to take advantage of them. Their advice is usually free because their job is to encourage economic growth by helping businesses like yours to succeeds. Your local chamber of commerce and the Small Business Association are great places to start. You should also network with other local business owners to find out who they use. This can be a great way to narrow down our list of potentials. If the same service gets recommended over and over again, you know that’s the one you want to talk to. Now is not the time for hasty decisions.
7. Choose Someone Who Will Work to Save You Money
Many accountants will consider their job done if they manage your books and do your taxes, but a really good accountant is going to much more proactive. Before you hire someone, ask them what they can recommend to help save you money. What percentage of the operating costs of your business could be offset against your taxes? Does this accountant know the laws in detail to help you save money in ways that won’t get you into trouble? Be careful with this question because you don’t want someone who’s going to cross the line and take risks with your livelihood. In the end, it’s you as the owner of the business who will pay the price if laws are broken.
The right accountant can also save you money by reducing costly mistakes that are commonly made by business owners who try to manage their own books, such as incurring tax penalties. Your accountant will keep your books up to date and help you track where your money is going so that you can quickly see where you can cut costs.
The bottom line? A good accountant can do so much more for your business than just file your taxes. Take your time when making this important decision to ensure that you hire the best candidate for your business.