No business starts out with the expectation of failure, but when small business owners neglect the bookkeeping side of their business they’re setting themselves up for trouble. Proper management of the financial side of your business can make all the difference between whether you succeed or fail. And making sure the numbers are in order is just as important as sales when it comes to building a business that can go the distance.
If keeping detailed, accurate records is not your strength or you don’t have the time to give it the attention it deserves, it makes sense to hire a professional whose primary job is making sure all aspects of your business finances are in order. There are some things to consider when choosing someone to handle the finances for your business however, so here are a few tips for what to keep in mind.
- In regards to bookkeeping, consider expertise and experience over cost.
Many small businesses are tempted to hire someone to handle their business finances based solely on cost of the services. This might seem logical, especially with start ups where money is tight. But choosing solely based on cost or having an unqualified person handling your accounting can be a monumental mistake!
The money side of your business is far too important to entrust to just anyone, and trying to save a few dollars can lead to big headaches down the road. Especially when it comes to taxes. A good accountant may cost more than that neighbor who does it to earn extra money on the side, but they’re trained to expertly handle the services you need.
When you think about it in terms of peace-of-mind and what you would be able to do instead of slaving over the books – like doing the things that bring in the money – investing in a competent accountant is clearly a sound investment in your business.
Get recommendations, shop around, and get quotes from several accountants before making a decision, but don’t let the cost of services be the only deciding factor.
- Get clear on what you need them to do.
A good accountant can be a valuable, strategic addition to your business on many levels. The services offered by accounting firms can vary though, so give some thought to what types of services you need before signing on with someone. Are you looking for someone to just handle your taxes on a yearly basis or do you want a broader list of ongoing services? Are you the type of person who considers throwing receipts in a shoebox “filing” and wants someone to manage everything financial or will you be doing some of the tasks yourself?
Are there things about your specific industry requiring someone who specializes in that area? Would you like someone who not only deals with numbers, but also offers expert guidance with respect to financial and management decisions – in other words, someone who can fulfill a consulting role as well as bookkeeping? CPA’s can often function as expert business consultants in addition to handling numbers.
If you’re unclear of the services available or unsure of the level of services you would like, talk to other entrepreneurs or ask accountants you’re interviewing. There may be ways an accountant could help that you haven’t even thought of.
- Choose someone who is a good fit for you.
Your relationship with your accountant is hopefully going to be a long one, so choose someone you find easy to work with. You want someone with a high level of expertise, but also someone whose personality is a good fit with yours.
Working with an accountant means letting that person into the heart of your business and entrusting them with your finances. It is one of the most important decisions you can make as a business owner. You need someone who cares about the success of your business. You need someone who is trustworthy. You need someone who has the diplomacy to handle difficult, but necessary, conversations. And you need someone who has a good sense of humor, which can be a real plus at tax time. (I’m only half kidding.)
Hiring an accountant to keep track of the money coming in and going out can be a big relief for business owners. And knowing you have a professional on your side who understands crunching numbers and what’s needed for success can free you up to do more important things. Just make sure whoever you choose is qualified to handle the job. The success of your business may depend on it.
John Brandvein has been in public accounting since 1958 and founded Brandvein & Co. in 1994. Not only does John have copious knowledge regarding all things accounting and taxes, he provides his clients the best possible support and stability, while being gracious and humorous in the process of delivering excellent service. You can reach John at 314.725.5514 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org