Unexpected Capabilities. Unmatched Service.

Hiring an Accountant for Your Small Business: Here’s What to Look For

As a small business owner, you’re used to doing almost everything on your own. However, there are times when outsourcing a particular task – especially when it requires expertise – would make more sense. Take, for example, hiring an accountant.

Delegating this responsibility has plenty of advantages. First, think of the time and brainpower you’ll save not having to navigate tax laws and compliance requirements. An accountant can also give you advice on business and personal financial plans, since they’re familiar with the business environment and your unique situation. Finally, an accountant should be able to set up an easily navigable bookkeeping system that lets you evaluate your profitability and track expenses. Not only does this give you a clear picture of how your small business is doing, it’ll also make auditing much easier and more accurate – quite useful if you ever need to take out a loan.

That said, it can be scary to let an “outsider” become intimate with your business. So the account you hire must be trustworthy and competent, and provide peace of mind.

The following are some of the most important things to look for when hiring an accountant:

What You Need in an Accountant

Small Business Familiarity: Different entities have different accounting needs. Small businesses, for example, can have complex needs but limited resources to manage them with. It therefore makes sense to hire an accountant or accounting firm whose client roster includes many small businesses.

Industry Experience: Besides your type of business, your future accountant should also be familiar with your industry – whether it’s real estate, car sales or construction.

Size: While the idea of hiring a big-name, national firm may seem more secure, it also probably means you’ll pay a lot more. You also have to consider the risk that a small business like yours might be overlooked in favor of their bigger clients. If you do “go big,” ask who you’re working with; you should have your own dedicated person or team. Some firms outsource work to smaller accounting firms as well, so ask.

Easy to Understand: Keep in mind that you’re trying to hire someone with expertise to take the bricks off your back. If you talk to a possible hire and walk away more confused than when you started, they’re probably not the right choice. You need someone who can do the job, yes … but you also need someone who can untangle the complexities of accounting and explain them to you at a level you can understand.

Certification: A Certified Public Accountant is someone who passed a professional exam and has a license, authorizing them to perform more specialized services like a financial statement audit. A CPA can also be your representative in a legal capacity, and are legally obligated to act in your best interests. In general, they also cost more. A non-CPA accountant, on the other hand, can be less expensive and can perform general account services like billing, ledger entries and payroll, but may be unable to tackle more specialized duties.

Here are a couple more things you can do to make the best possible choice:

Ask for referrals. Talk to people you trust, like your lawyer or a business colleague. You can also look at the Society of Certified Public Accountants in your state.

Get in touch with current and past clients. Ask a candidate to provide a list of clients who would be willing to spend even a few minutes on the phone with you – this will give you an idea of what it’s going to be like working with your future accountant, including potential shortcomings or pitfalls.

Talk to McManamon: The specialists at McManamon & Co. have decades of combined experience providing accounting services to small and midsize businesses. We can help your firm create financial services, provide expert guidance on financial matters and even train your accounting staff in best practices and various software programs.

Need someone to look after your books and take care of taxes? Leave the accounting to us so you can focus on what you do best: running a business. Call us at 440.892.9088 or contact us online.

Tags:  , , , | Posted in accounting, McManamon & Co., small business