The duties of an accountant are numerous, from tax advice to planning and strategy, a small business accountant can even act as a business partner. We’ve put together a list of things to look for, from understanding what their duties are and how they can profit your business to establishing your needs and the right time for hire.
Top tips for choosing a small business accountant
Finding the right candidate often boils down to diligent research, asking around business circles and ultimately a deep interview process. The best accountants are well educated and versed in the laws and legislation.
Hiring the right small business accountant, one that works well with you and your team can profit your business tremendously, but be mindful of the potential cost and your firm’s current needs. There’s no sense in making a hasty decision before doing your due diligence.
The best candidate will combine experience, knowledge of software and hard work to not only deal with tax and bookkeeping but ensure your business’ steady growth.
What does a small business accountant do?
It isn’t mandatory to employ one, but the numerous benefits to working with an accountant make it a very attractive option for many limited company owners and small businesses. Consider this: a trusted accountant can register a company with government tax departments, operate payroll, manage the books, offer solid tax planning advice and take care of the pesky administration duties many business owners would rather not deal with.
Not to mention, a good small business accountant can keep things running smoothly, efficiently and offer expert advice from a team with a wealth of experience. In short, they can identify planning opportunities and compliance threats to the business.
How an accountant can help your business profit
Managing your accounts yourself is stressful, time-consuming and often fruitless because of missed tax deductions or other overlooked details. This is time and money that can be reinvested into your business, or perhaps spent on valuable leisure time in order to recharge. A small business accountant helps you do things right, saving you time and money such as:
- Get your bookkeeping organised, detailed and easy to understand saving you precious time.
- Find valuable tax breaks adding to your cash flow and help keep you on the path to success.
- Getting taxes done accurately and on time helping you avoid missed deadlines and late fees.
- Streamline your invoicing to send them in a timely manner and know when they’ve been paid.
- Quicker collections by setting up a payment system offering your clients different options to pay.
- Advice on how to properly grow your business through financial analysis and reviews
- Guide you in raising additional financing with favourable terms and conditions.
- Help decide if the timing is right for you to introduce a new product or service offering.
Growing your business is the end game, more productivity equals more profits. Growing brings with it unique challenges but an experienced accountant will ensure that expansion happens smoothly. Adding new employees to to your payroll system, sending batches of new invoices and dealing with bigger clients sounds wonderful and scary at the same time.
An accountant will not only help smooth things out but will also help with planning and the implementation of new financial systems, such as the right accounting software to ensure growth remains steady and profitable. A business that expands too quickly can suffer growing pains that lead to costly errors, but a devoted accountant can hold down the fort and ensure nothing is overlooked.
Establishing your accounting needs
In order to get the most out of working with an accountant or accountancy firm, the first step is to establish your needs. Reliability and accuracy are traits of an accountant no small business can do without. Someone that takes an interest in your entire business is a quality often overlooked but equally, if not more, important. The best small business accountants are there for you at every step of the way, not just when it’s time to pay the invoice. They show interest in what you do, and how you do it by being proactive.
Consider above all else whether this candidate or accounting firm will bring obvious financial value to your company. Will this person help you raise capital to support growth or will they help you improve your cash flow? What aspects of your financials are you most struggling with? Perhaps you just need help sorting out your limited company expenses.
Think about the prospective accountant as a business partner, and act accordingly when deciding who to choose. Consider asking other professionals you’re familiar with who they’ve hired, and how it worked out. Trust is fundamental, and making sure any accountant you may be considering is governed by an official body of some sort is vital to establish whether they are a right fit for your business.
When should you hire a small business accountant?
Deciding when an accountant is what you need can be difficult. A good accountant could help turn a struggling business around or minimise growth challenges. They can help with establishing the legal structure of your business. As not all firms are created equal, figuring out the structure of your business from a legal standpoint and implementing it could help you avoid problems in the future.
It may be time to hire an accountant if you need help devising an easy-to-understand and efficient business plan or strategy. Having a business plan could mean the difference between steady growth with incentives for investors, to a disorganised firm with no clear goals or potential for prosperity.
If as a business owner you aren’t familiar with tax legislation and accounting or are not interested in maintaining your own financial records it may be a good time to hire an accountant. For example, here at BrooksCity, many of our small business clients appreciate our gold standard. That is, maintaining up to date records, knowing at any time their liabilities and when they are due, knowing what is theirs and when they can take it, and knowing how much tax is due and when.
Ultimately the decision to hire an accountant comes down one very important factor. That you are ready to delegate some responsibility. This is a difficult thing to accept, but making this decision is often the smart one, as it lets you focus your talents elsewhere in growing your business.
How much does a small business accountant cost?
To pinpoint the exact cost of a small business accountant is difficult. It often depends on what the individual or firm is offering by way of services. £120 per month plus VAT expenses is not uncommon. Throwing out figures is guesswork at best. The role of an accountant within your business, what they do and how much is what will determine the cost.
The tools they use to do their job and profit your firm also factor into the cost. Do they keep things simple with excel? Do they use more complex accounting software, or perhaps an in-house system set up the way that works best for you and them?
Here at BrooksCity, we offer our client a free iOS app that includes a mileage tracker, receipt manager and direct access to our portal among other things. This provides our clients with constant access to information about their business and reduces the clutter of keeping paper records. We now also offer direct bank feeds which save our clients the need to send us bank statements and even the ability to email takings directly to us from EPoS tills.
If handling a handful of frustrating tasks is all a business owner needs, the costs could be minimal. Involving an accountant in important decision making could increase costs, but may lead to more savings and profits when good advice is offered.
Mistakes to avoid when hiring a small business accountant
Knowing who you’re entering into a business relationship with is the most important factor when choosing an accountant. If you’re looking for someone to manage your accounts, consider all the services they offer and if they are relevant to your needs. If the most important function of an accountant working for you is tax and planning, do some digging and make sure the individual or firm benefits you significantly.
- Don’t be hasty. Take your time, do research and interview candidates thoroughly
- Look into their qualifications. Is their experience relevant to your business’ needs?
- Scrutinize. Ask yourself if this person will help grow your business.
- Ask them what they’d do differently. A new perspective is always welcome.
- Meet them in person. Phone or email isn’t the same as sitting down with someone.
- Ask around. Do you know someone who has hired them in the past Why? Are they satisfied?
- Consider if they are registered with a governing body
- Evaluate cost and benefit. Are there hidden fees? What are initial costs going to be?
- Consider they will make your life easier, work independently and offer solid planning and advice.
- Are they proactive and take a holistic approach to see your business as a whole?
The value an accountant can bring to the table is obvious and most often outweighs their cost. A properly trained and experienced accountant can change your business for the better. Simply put, choosing to pay someone to look at and manage your finances could be the best decision you’ve made for your business in recent months if not years.