How To Find An Accountant: Tips For Small Business
Understanding the financial health of your small business is key to achieving your goals. With a clear overview of your financial records, you can create strategies for cutting costs, growing profits, and expanding your company. The right accountant is an essential part of this process—they’ll provide you with the tools to understand your finances so you can focus on business growth.
From tax planning and filing to goal setting, a good accountant can help you with your company’s daily financial tasks and broader goals. We’ll cover why an accountant is important for your business, what you can expect from an accountant, and tips for finding the right accountant for your small business.
- Many small businesses hire an accountant to free up time, minimise the risk of mistakes, and help with financial strategizing.
- You can choose to have an accountant on staff or bring them on as needed.
- You can find an accountant through referrals, online directories, or professional associations.
- Experience, qualifications, fees, and compatibility are all helpful criteria when choosing a good accountant.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- Do I Need an Accountant for My Small Business?
- What to Expect from Your Accountant
- How Do You Start Your Search for a Good Accountant?
- Factors to Consider When Choosing an Accountant
- Frequently Asked Questions
Do I Need an Accountant for My Small Business?
An accountant may not be essential for every small business, but they’re usually beneficial. Even for small business owners who feel comfortable managing their own finances, accounting will take up more hours as the company grows. As you become busier, things can go overlooked, and even small errors in taxation and compliance can have costly penalties. By hiring an accountant, you minimise these risks and free up your time so you can focus on managing your business.
There are plenty of situations where an accountant is beneficial. Taxes are a great example—they can be time-consuming, detailed, and even more particular as your business grows and expands. Though you might be okay with doing them yourself, if an accountant can do them more quickly or help you get better tax returns, it’s ultimately the less costly choice. Accountants can also be beneficial in analysing your costs, keeping records, and ensuring that your company complies with governmental regulations.
What to Expect from Your Accountant
One of the advantages of working with an accountant is that you can hire them to assist with specific tasks and questions. While large companies may keep a permanent account on their payroll, many small businesses hire an accountant monthly, quarterly, or annually. For example, you may hire an accountant to file your taxes, provide advice on professional indemnity insurance, or prepare financial statements for an investor meeting.
An accountant can have many responsibilities, from ongoing tasks like payroll to occasional financial forecasting. Some of their roles may include:
- Finding eligible deductions for your taxes
- Preparing and filing taxes
- Assisting with payroll
- Maintaining and reviewing financial records
- Putting together annual accounts
- Managing cash flow
- Providing advice and financial forecasting
- Identifying areas of excess cost and potential for growth
A robust accounting and bookkeeping system is critical to managing the ongoing financial health of your business and planning for the future. Keeping your cash flow running smoothly and ensuring your employees are paid on time is also essential. While a bookkeeper may help manage many of these daily tasks, bringing in an accountant to review your system and provide an in-depth analysis is an excellent way to ensure your business stays on track.
Looking for an easy place to start your accountant search? FreshBooks helps you find qualified, experienced accountants who can help small businesses with their accounting needs. Discover online accountants near you.
How Do You Start Your Search for a Good Accountant
There are ample ways to find a good accountant, from personal referrals to professional directories. Here are three methods to help you start your search:
1. Ask for a referral
Speaking to clients and other business owners is a great way to find accountants who cater to small business needs. Try connecting with contacts in your network or consulting online small business forums to see who others recommend.
2. Browse online directories
Online directories can be helpful because they often offer search filters like location, role, and budget.
3. Check professional associations
There are several professional accounting bodies in the UK, including the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA). You’ll also find country-specific accounting associations to help you find someone local.
The advantage of referrals from other business owners is that you’re likely to find an accountant with small business experience and customer satisfaction, although this may be difficult if you don’t know many small business owners who work with accountants. Online directories are helpful because they offer options for specific needs, but it may be harder to confirm credentials and previous customer reviews. Professional associations guarantee a level of training and experience, though this may come with a higher price tag. There’s no ideal method—the right place to search will depend on your resources, business needs, and budget.
When considering potential accountants, doing a background check and asking for references is helpful to ensure they’re legitimate. When interviewing, some questions to ask may include:
- Whether the account has experience with small businesses and your specific needs
- If the accountant has any industry specialisation
- The accountant’s availability, office hours, and preferred communication methods
- Upfront and continuing costs
- If seeking a tax accountant, how they would represent you in case of an audit
Ideally, a good accountant should have experience with small businesses and be familiar with your industry. Depending on the type of financial services and business advice you seek, you may also want a certified accountant who can offer a more in-depth analysis of your business
Factors to Consider When Choosing an Accountant
There are four primary factors to consider when choosing a good accountant for your business: Experience, qualifications, fees, and compatibility.
Have they worked with small businesses before? Are they familiar with your industry? An accountant with experience with small business needs may be more able to navigate the specifics of your finances and anticipate problems many small businesses face. Industry familiarity is vital for overview analysis, including financial forecasting that relies on the broader industry rather than just your individual business.
Although certifications aren’t always necessary for every accounting service, accountants who’ve undergone more extensive training can often offer a greater range of advice or more in-depth analysis. The desired qualifications for your accountant will depend on what kind of business advice and services you’re seeking.
Do you need an accountant monthly, quarterly, annually, or ongoing? How in-depth is the accounting you need? You may be able to save and find more affordable services if you’re only looking for general accounting, whereas it may be worthwhile to spend when you need specialised tax advice.
Finding an accountant with relevant experience and affordable rates is important, but you’ll also want someone whose work style fits your business. Ask about communication methods, hours, pay, and expectations to find a good accountant who can work well with your team.
Feel confident in your choice of an accountant who can offer credible reviews. Talking with peers and other small business owners is a great place to start, especially if you’re seeking someone local in your industry. Another option is to choose an online accountant and browse online reviews from other customers. Mazuma makes it easy to browse reviews so you can find the right accountant for your business.
An accountant can help you manage the ongoing financial tasks and growth strategies of running a small business. In addition to freeing up time so you can focus on management, accountants are also important for reducing risks that can come with missing financial details. Whether you’re looking for a staff accountant to help with daily financial needs or seeking occasional assistance for things like your tax returns and filing, most businesses can benefit from an accountant’s expert advice.
There are many ways to find a good accountant, from personal referrals to online directories and professional associations. You can also consider online accounting services like Mazuma. When choosing a potential accountant, consider their experience, qualifications, and fees to determine if they’re the right fit for your company. Look for someone with industry knowledge and experience working with small businesses so you can make the most of your accountant. Mazuma’s highly skilled team knows the ins and outs of bookkeeping and taxes for small businesses, allowing them to handle all your accounting needs easily.
FAQs on How To Find An Accountant
Is it better to hire an accountant?
While hiring an accountant is not always necessary, it’s usually beneficial as it minimises the risk of financial error. Accounting also takes up more time as your business expands, so hiring an accountant can allow you to focus on running your business.
Do I need an accountant if I am self-employed?
It’s not mandatory for self-employed people to have an accountant, but it can be helpful when completing important financial tasks like filing your taxes and creating a business plan.
What is the difference between a chartered accountant and an accountant?
In the UK, a chartered accountant is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. An accountant, on the other hand, may have licensing or training, but it’s not required.
Should I choose an accountant with a specialty in my industry?
Generally, having an accountant familiar with your industry is better if you’re looking for professional advice on financial forecasting or goal setting. However, specialisation isn’t always necessary—if you’re hiring and paying an accountant for general purposes like payroll, specialisation won’t likely offer too much benefit if it comes at a higher price tag. Mazuma offers stress-free accountancy services for a variety of industries so you can get all your bookkeeping and accounting needs handled quickly and easily.
How do I know if an accountant is the right fit for my business?
You’ll want to evaluate candidates based on experience, qualifications, fees, and general compatibility to find the best accountant for your business. Look for an accountancy firm with expertise in your industry and capabilities that align with all the services you need.