Hiring an accountant for your start-up is a necessary step and is something you should give considerable weight to. When you are looking for the right accountant, you don’t just want one who is going to be able to save you money and file your taxes for you, but you want one who is going to be able to help you run your business.
Many accountants have many years of professional experience within specific industries, and it is important to find an accountant who has been operating within yours for a significant amount of time. A good accountant does more than just balance your books.
When you are vetting potential candidates, there are many key questions which you should be asking them. Finding the right accountant can take a while and involves a lot of shopping around, but, in the long-term, it is well worth the effort.
Here are some key questions you should be asking all of your candidates –
Who Are Your Clients?
The best accountant for you will be the one who has clients similar to you, who operate within your industry. Different industries and sectors have to deal with different issues and considerations, therefore, it is important that a candidate has lots of relevant experience in working with clients similar to you.
What is Your Availability?
Not all accountants or accounting firms are available year-round, however, when you are running a small business or are just starting out, the ideal accountant will be one who is going to be available regularly. Financial issues can strike at any time, and without an in-house team of professionals, you are going to struggle to cope with them – if something comes up, you want your accountant to be available to deal with it, you don’t want to have to wait until tax season is back before you can get help.
How Will I Be Billed?
Different accountants charge on a different basis. Some work by the hour, some will invoice you for a flat rate whereas others will charge an annual fee. What works for you will depend on your business, however, many smaller businesses opt for accountants who charge by the hour as this fits in better with their general needs; small businesses don’t require round-the-clock accounting services. You can also find different ways to save some money on accounting fees, which will be important as you are just starting out.
How Will We Communicate?
You need to know how you’re going to be keeping in touch with your future accountant – over the phone, via email or through video conferencing? – and how often you are going to be in contact. By asking your accountant this simple question, you can figure out how easy – or difficult – a certain candidate is going to be to reach. Given that there are still some old school accountants out there who prefer communication exclusively via letter (yes, seriously), this is an important question to ask.
Tell Me about My Industry
Finally, you need to gauge whether a potential candidate actually has industry-related knowledge and experience by asking this direct question. A good accountant will be able to tell you things about your industry which you yourself didn’t know, and this knowledge can be levied by you in making operational decisions and promoting growth. Also, an accountant with industry experience will be able to help you out with sourcing investments, crowdfunding and loans which can be used for expansion.
Recruiting an accountant is a time-consuming process and is something which requires due diligence. Your vetting process needs to be thorough and you should be asking all the above questions and then some, so that you can determine whether or not a candidate is going to be suitable for you.
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