As a business owner, you need to know where you stand financially if you plan on seeing long-term success. One of the major reasons new businesses fail at an 80% rate is the lack of a profitable business model.
How do you know if you have a successful model if you don't know what's going on with your money?
Sure, owners can access profit and loss reports. Does that give a true understanding of what's going on in each department though?
Hiring an accountant to conduct regular audits of your finances comes with a variety of benefits. They can tell you where you're getting the most bang for your buck and where you're wasting funds. They can help you find ways to pay less in taxes and offer business advice. They can even help your inventory management by helping you learn more about where you're losing money in your supply line.
How do you find the best accountant for your business though?
If you're wondering how to find an accountant, let's look at some of the things to consider.
Ask For Referrals
Online, when someone wants to emphasize something, they precede and follow the statement with the hand-clap emoji. Don't worry, we won't do that. Instead, we'll repeat this statement for effect:
Ask for a referral.
The best way to find an accountant is to ask your lawyer, a business colleague, a banker, or anyone else that deals with money. People that understand how to make and manage money tend to know the best accountants.
The Society of Certified Public Accountants is another resource your business should use. CPAs work for small and large businesses and have to pass a two-day exam for their certification. They are qualified, knowledgeable, and have the experience required to improve your business model.
Know What You Need
Accountants aren't all the same. They focus on different areas and offer different services. Some specialize in record-keeping while others focus on auditing. In an ideal world, you'd like to find someone that can do multiple tasks, but those services require more funds than you may have at your disposal.
Determine what you need an accountant to do for you, and hire accordingly. The last thing you want to have is someone that's in charge of keeping your money to learn on the job. Check your candidate's experience in what you need.
You'll also want to make sure that your candidates have experience with businesses of your size. Being an accountant for a small business vs. a large corporation requires different skill sets.
Use The Power Of The Internet To Narrow Your Field
Professional networking sites such as LinkedIn are a powerful resource for small businesses. You can find candidates, check their experience, and look for references within five minutes.
Small accounting firms tend to rely on online reviews to help them attain new business. Go on Facebook and other social media sites and see what people are saying about them. If there are complaints, does the company respond and try to fix the problem, or do they blame the customer?
You should also ask any potential candidate for references from companies they've helped in the past. If a company or independent accountant isn't willing to provide you with this information, check them off your list.
Interview Your Candidates
Find out what services your candidates offer. Many larger firms offer bookkeeping, management consulting, and help implement financial systems. Some are able to improve your payroll system. It's important to find out from the beginning to get the most bang for your buck.
Often, smaller firms tend to be cheaper and better for small businesses. In many cases, they don't offer the same diverse services as large firms though. It's a trade-off that you have to consider once you've determined what you need.
Make sure that you meet the actual people that are going to handle your account. Many firms have teams that handle customer acquisitions then pass them off to the actual accountants.
Ask questions relating to specific circumstances surrounding your company. Find out how the accountant would handle them. Gauge their response and make sure they won't pressure you to do things you aren't comfortable with.
Don't be afraid to ask about fees. Find out if they charge by the hour or want a monthly retainer. Get this information from everyone you interview and compare the price against the services offered.
Remember that expensive isn't bad, as long as the higher price tag comes with either more experience, more services, or better advice. You shouldn't pay more than you can afford in hopes that the accountant will save you money, you should get the most for your money.
If the difference in services rendered vs. cost falls within your budget, it's worth the extra money.
Write An Engagement Letter
Once you agree on a candidate, lay out the terms of the agreement for everyone. The letter of engagement should include everything, from the service they provide to the fees charged. This assures both you and the accountant that both parties will hold up their end of the deal.
Before your accountant starts, make sure that all your records are in order. The more organized you are, the less time the accountant has to spend figuring everything out. It saves them time and saves you cash.
Do You Need More Advice On How To Find An Accountant?
If you're looking for the perfect candidate, make sure you check out our job listings at The Washington Post. We have experienced people from across the country looking for their next career.
It's important to know what prospects think before you search for them. If you want the best talent, you have to meet them in the middle.