Pitfalls to Avoid When Hiring an Accountant for Your Small Business

No business, regardless of size, can succeed without the right accounting processes. Most businesses hire outside help, and for good reason. Constantly changing tax laws and little known stipulations can cause even the most experienced of business man to find themselves in dire straits with the IRS. Most choose to hire a full-time accountant for their business, while others outsource accounting to an outside firm. Both options can be the right choice, but it's vital that you take your time to find the right accounting services for your business in particular. Make sure to avoid the following pitfalls that many business owners face when hiring an accountant for their small business.

Doing It Yourself

Many small business owners believe they can handle their accounting processes on their own, but this can be a fatal mistake. Accounting is extremely detailed, with plenty of nuances that those not trained in this discipline can easily flub. Accountants go to school for years to get a handle on all the processes required in this field; consider that before sitting down to keep your own records and file your business taxes. Investing in the right accounting services is non-negotiable, especially for a novice business owner that doesn't have previous experience. It's important that your company's finances are in the hands of a professional that knows exactly what to do.

Not Understanding Your Needs

Don't hire an accountant before understanding exactly what you need from their services. Are you looking for someone who can help you get your records in order? Do you want someone to provide taxes and payroll services? Perhaps you need an accountant that can help you create budgets for the upcoming year. Write down your specific wish list, then start the hiring process. This could mean the difference between outsourcing to an individual once or twice a year and hiring an accounting firm full-time. Not every account can help your business; take your time, interview multiple individuals or firms, and make an educated decision about your accounting hire.

Not Considering Soft Skills

Skilled accountants are more than number crunchers, and this is where some business owners find themselves in trouble. You need to hire an accountant that can provide a host of qualities beyond their math skills. They can have all the certifications under the sun, but if they can't communicate or work well with the rest of your employees, they're not going to provide the quality services you need. The best candidates need to understand your industry in particular, as they'll be making decisions based on advancements and occurrences in real time. You'll need to find someone who is adept at communicating complex processes in simplistic terms; they may need to speak with your employees to gather information, and then use that information to make decisions and analyses that will play into your company decisions. You'll also want to find someone that's highly organized and detailed. They'll be tasked with keeping track of your records, so you'll want to be sure you can trust them to catch all the little details you might have missed.

Taking the Wrong Qualifications into Account

It's important to consider certifications as well. Most businesses look towards the services of a CPA; these are individuals who have gone completed numerous years of education and acquire plenty of years of experience. CPAs are also required to pass the CPA exam, an extremely difficult 14-hour test that can take years to complete. Those with this designation are generally well-versed in a variety of accounting tasks and themes. However, it's important to note that reputation doesn't supersede practical experience. While lofty degrees from prestigious schools and detailed titles can be impressive, they're not always indicative of skill. Always be sure to check any accounting firm's reviews, and any individual accountant's references. Keep in mind too that hiring someone with numerous qualifications may come with a much higher price tag that could be out of your company's budget.

Want to hire an experienced accountant? Keep these facets in mind as you begin your search and give your company the best chance of success.

One thought on “Pitfalls to Avoid When Hiring an Accountant for Your Small Business

  1. Alyssa G. Ruff, GPHR

    Thanks for the post Ben! I agree DIYing accounting processes can lead to very costly mistakes.

    When I choose accountants for my very small business, I also ask during the selection process who will handle my day-to-day requests and learn more about their background. I have found the accountant I initially meet with is not always the person handling most of my questions. I want to know that the person actually processing payroll and reviewing my requests is a good fit for my company as well.

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