Hiring people can be a tedious and nerve-wracking task, whether it’s employees or business service providers.
Finding the right small business accountant is no different, and in many cases can be even more anxiety-inducing since the relationship is so important.
When soliciting advice, some people will recommend that you just to go to their guy.
Some business owners just look for the closest accounting firm.
Neither of those are the right way to choose an accountant, as easy as they might seem.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise–your accountant works for you, so it’s necessary to treat the hiring process the same as you would any other employee or contractor.
And, while it’s so common for the first thing to worry about is how much their services will cost, there are other considerations, without which make the cost a moot issue.
Personality & Attitude
Interviewing accountants can give you a great deal of insight into how they operate and what a working relationship will be like.
Do they seem like someone interested in just making a buck or genuinely interested in developing a relationship with you?
During your initial consultation do they listen to you or do they dominate the conversation, doing all the talking without considering your unique situation?
While being comfortable with a business professional is important, you also want that accountant to be firm and keep you in check.
Someone who tells you only what you want to hear will do you no good compared to someone who tells you what you need to hear, especially if you run your business like your personal piggy bank.
Be honest with yourself–would you really benefit more from someone who lets you walk all over them, or someone who says like “You hired me for my expertise, so you need to listen to me when I tell you that you can’t buy that through your business”.
Understanding your business
You wouldn’t go to a butcher for a wedding cake, or a cardiologist for prenatal care, or a divorce attorney for a will.
So why would you hire an accountant who is unfamiliar with what you do?
Not all accountants will understand business models that involve modern activities like digital marketing or blogging.
They may not understand website designers or social media companies.
If you are location independent, you don’t want to work with an accountant who is old-school and requires you to meet in person.
And if you are more traditional in running your business, you don’t want to hire someone who works remotely and within a paperless environment.
Someone can’t understand you or your business and its needs can’t possibly be expected to guide you in the right direction or account for the activities within that field?
More than just a bookkeeper
For paying bills, and handling deposits a bookkeeper can be very beneficial in helping to free you, as a business owner, to run your business.
But there is also a limit to what they can (possibly) do for you (depending on the person).
If you need someone to handle sales taxes, payroll & payroll tax returns, prepare your income taxes and/or provide business consulting, you’re going to need a full-service accountant.
Have you ever heard the old saying about too many cooks?
Well, that can happen if you the person you hire only handles bookkeeping duties for you because you’d have to bring in a separate payroll company, business consultant and tax preparer to cover each of those areas.
Having too many hands mucks things up and can cause confusion among all of those people as each one is dependent on the others to do each one’s respective job and leaves the door open for each to be in your ear trying to further their own agenda while your best interests get lost.
Finding and hiring once person who has the ability to do everything you need will make things less complicated and leave you with less to worry about.
Money always plays some part in almost every decision you make regarding your business.
You are in business to make a profit, after all.
There are times, however, when cost should be the least of your concerns, while other aspects such as compatibility and gut feeling take precedence.
Hiring an accountant happens to be one of those times, and it’s worth taking the time to go beyond the money factor to find a professional who fits your needs and personality.
How do you handle your small business bookkeeping? Do you do it yourself or pay someone else to do it for you? Why did you decide to go that route?