A Guest Post by Dustin Pfluger
Hiring the right accountant for your business is similar to finding a custom-tailored solution to a problem. Not every accounting firm or independent accountant can be a right fit. Ideally, a business owner should hire an accountant to help in planning the business structure, overseeing business operations, and strategizing for growth.
Your accountant is responsible for ensuring that your books are compliant with regulations, advising you on tax-related concerns such as tax breaks and reductions, and generating reports and interpreting data that will help you determine business decisions. When you have a good accountant, you can focus all your time and energy on growing your business and creating revenue instead of spending time counting your money.
Discover if a potential accountant is a fit for your business with these 5 questions:
#1 Have he or she worked in the same industry and do they have references?
Choosing an accountant is equivalent to hiring an expert on your team. You are not looking for an accountant, but preferably one who has previous experience in the industry that you are in. For example, e-commerce businesses are subject to taxes and can be audited by the IRS. If you are an online business owner, the ideal accountant would be is one who is working with or has had an experience working with other e-commerce businesses. Their experience and expertise will save you time and resources.
Validate the accountant’s experience by asking for references. You can either check testimonials on the accountant’s website or request for client contact details.
#2 What are your insights into our accounting system?
Asking them this question uncovers two things: if a prospective accountant has taken the time to look into your current or proposed accounting processes and if the accountant can identify areas for improvement. You can hire a doer, who will review your books and file your taxes, but you can also find a proactive accountant who will advise you on how to make your processes more efficient.
It could be that your payroll system can be simplified or your inventory procedures can be automated. An experienced accountant will have ideas that can help you evolve your business processes.
#3 How will you help my company grow?
If your goal focuses on growth over the years, you will want to find an accountant who is concerned about the success of your business. Ask this question to find out if the candidate understands the direction that the company is going and if they acknowledge their role in achieving the goal.
Accounting can help the company grow by helping you create goals driven by data, progress based on figures, and advice for financial strategies based on your cash flow. An accountant that matches you and your business will understand the impact of his or her role in attaining growth.
#4 How are services delivered?
An accountant with a good work ethic responds timely. Ask what is their Service Level Agreement or the turnaround time for reports, communications, and inquiries. Find an accountant or an accounting firm who will commit to responding to inquiries at least within the next day, assigns a dedicated contact person (when working with a firm), and who can estimate the number of days needed to complete a task.
Use this question to start exploring the quality of service and to gauge if it is aligned with what your business requires.
#5 How do you keep yourself updated? Are you pursuing further professional education?
While the basic principles of Accounting date back to the days of ancient civilization, the ideal accountant does not stop in achieving professional growth. Technological developments led to modern accounting. Accounting system software makes processes easier and less complicated for businesses. Make sure that the accountant you choose know key developments and can advise which accounting solution or software suits your business best.
Aside from tech know-how, verify with the candidate how he or she stays abreast with changes in tax and business laws in your city and state.
Also published on Medium.