Finding the right accountant for your business is essential to your success. The good news: you have a lot of choices. The bad news: you have a lot of choices. Here’s some advice that might help.
First, you should know that the term “accountant” isn’t really an indicator of what skills you’ll be hiring. You might be surprised to learn that there are no licensing requirements for accountants or bookkeepers. In fact, there are no training or certification requirements for accountants or bookkeepers. Anyone who’s good with numbers can hang out a shingle.
And that might work for you. Many business owners think they just need simple bookkeeping or tax prep or help setting up QuickBooks. Some only find out they need more when something goes wrong.
We’re in business to make sure nothing goes wrong.
Let’s face it: everyone’s a first-time business owner the first time. You don’t know what you don’t know. You have to put your trust in professionals who can make sure your business dots all the I’s and crosses all the T’s. Tax law, tax prep, insurance, hiring, payroll – all require specific expertise. You can look for each of these specialties yourself and hope for the best. Or you can look for one full-service firm that knows what you need and where to find it.
The sign on our window says “Your Accounting Department.” We believe that every business owner deserves to have a trusted financial partner to help them achieve their goals – and avoid mistakes that can be very costly. The right financial partner can help you create a budget, save money on your taxes, set up metrics to measure your growth and success, avoid liability, and make smart decisions about hiring and purchasing.
In fact, that should be one of the first questions you ask when hiring an accountant. What can you do in addition to my taxes? Ask about how they can save you money and time – that’s the reason you hire anyone to help with your business, after all.
Here are some more questions you should be asking.
What’s your background? What training or certifications do you have? How many years have you been in business? Look for someone with training and education in accounting and with years of experience inside business. You should be paying for someone with years of hands-on accounting experience inside successful companies.
Ask about their clientele. Who do you serve? Have you ever worked with someone in my industry before? What’s the average revenue of your clients’ business? Finding the right fit is also about finding the right fit for the size of your business. You’ll want a firm that can help you achieve your current goals and grow into new ones with you.
If I need another area of expertise, will you help me find the right person? When you hire an experienced financial professional, you should also get the benefit of her network. We have a group of trusted partners we refer our clients to. We also treat our clients like our boss. If we worked for a company, we wouldn’t tell our boss “We need a liability policy for the business. Get right on that for me, will you?” No. We’d do the research and get it set up ourselves. We mean it when we say we’re full service. We don’t make our clients do the legwork themselves, either.
How available will you be to me? As a business owner, you work long hours and probably take care of business matters in the evenings, on weekends, whenever you can find a spare minute. If you have an urgent question outside business hours, you’ll be on your own if your accountant works only 9 to 5 during the week. If your accountant charges you to answer every question, you might be tempted to try to figure things out for yourself rather than call for advice. You deserve an accountant who understands how and when you need their help and advice.
Asking the right questions is the first step to finding the right fit for your business. That means you can focus on your business and trust your partner to focus on the finances.
About Andrea Bone:
Andrea Bone is the Founder & CEO of Accounting & Business Partners. As a hands-on controller for multiple businesses of various sizes from 1995 to 2022, she has been responsible for all the “back office” operations. Her firm manages accounting, payroll, human resources, taxes, banking, insurance, and legal work. Her favorite part of working with business owner clients is seeing them achieve their goals.
Andrea holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Texas at Dallas and a Master’s degree in Business from Texas A&M University Corpus Christi. She is a Certified Public Accountant and has over 25 years of experience running businesses as a financial controller and CFO.