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Hiring an Accountant? Ask These Questions First

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The day has come when you’ve had it with doing your own books, missing opportunities and paying for your mistakes. It’s time to bring in a trained CPA whose knowledge can save you time and money.

Now you’re asking yourself, How do I choose a good one — the one that’s right for my business? These basic questions will give you insight on how well the accountant or accounting company will meet your needs.

1. How easy are you to get in touch with?
Find out the accountant’s available communication channels — face to face, phone, email, text, online video chat. How long does it typically take for them to respond? Will you have a preset schedule of meetings?

 2. What will you monitor on an ongoing basis?
Your accountant should be able to keep you informed of any changing conditions that could impact your bottom line, and offer strategies for the most profitable reaction.

 

They should also be able to advise you of the financial consequences of decisions such as purchasing equipment, hiring additional employees or moving to a new location.

1. Can you help me grow my business?
An accountant who really knows small business can help you make a realistic, actionable plan for scaling up over the long term.

2. Can you help me smooth out my cash flow?
Cash flow projection and management can be one of the biggest advantages your accountant brings on board. It can make all the difference in improving receivables, organizing payables and minimizing shortfalls.

3. Can you tell me when I’m making a profit?
Your accountant should provide you with timely profit and loss statements. As well, they can help you calculate pricing structure and adjust expenditures to improve profitability.

4. Can you help me with taxes?
Getting rid of tax paperwork is one of the most frequent reasons business owners give for hiring an accountant. You accountant should keep your business in a tax-ready posture year-round, by keeping up to date with receipts and tax coded bookkeeping.

 

You should also expect to receive information about tax saving opportunities, such as business expense write-offs and accelerated depreciation on assets.

1. Can you give me a business value assessment?
Your accountant should have the capability to execute a discounted cash flow analysis, a common method of determining a company’s fair market value in excess of tangible assets.

2. What accounting issues affect my industry?
You want your accountant to be familiar with the opportunities and challenges you face every day. For example, if you’re an e-commerce business, your ideal accountant is already aware of and working with the fast-changing complexities of state sales tax reporting and collection.

3. What mistakes do your clients make in working with you?
An honest answer from the accountant will give you a good idea of how open and trustworthy they are. You’ll also avoid making the same costly mistakes as others have.

 

The most common answer to this question is that clients aren’t completely truthful with them. Unfortunately, the truth does comes out sooner or later, often when it’s too late to prevent a problem (such as during an IRS audit).

Another frequent mistake is not following the advice of the accountant. You’re paying for their expertise, so you should use it to make the best decisions for your business.

With these essential questions in hand, you’re well prepared to interview prospective accountants and decide on the one you want to work with. We think you’ll be delighted at how much better a professional accounting service can help your business thrive than your DIY system or that basic accounting software could do.

Your numbers, now.