How To Find A Small Business Accountant (2022 Guide) – Forbes Advisor

A search for “small business accountant” will return thousands of results, and trying to sift through them all would be challenging. Start crowdsourcing and ask other small business owners who they trust with their finances. Once you have several names, do some internet research on their background and experience and read any reviews available.

Another option is to use the American Institute of CPAs or National Association of State Boards of Accountancy directory, which allows users to search by state and region.
Reputable accountants and small business accounting firms should have no problem arranging an exploratory meeting to discuss your needs and provide several references.

Must-haves when choosing an accountant

First, you need to determine what functions you would like to assist an accountant with and how often you will need their services. Begin by creating a priority list—the items that need to be addressed immediately and those that need to be addressed within six months. Next, you need to choose whether you want to work with an independent auditor or an accounting firm. No matter what you decide to do, you should choose someone who has a lot of experience with the type of small business you have and who you want to share sensitive information with.

Accounting firm, contractor or employee?

Most small businesses do not need their own accounting staff. It may seem tempting to have one member of your team handle all of the financials, but remember to consider the salary and benefits you’re responsible for providing. Your two main choices will likely be which accounting firm or independent accountant to contract with.

If you’re not sure which option is best, schedule interviews with both and get a feel for how they work. Before making a final decision, consider what exact services you need and what your budget is, along with:

  • The upfront and ongoing costs of a chartered accountant or accounting firm
  • Your availability and office hours
  • Their experience working with companies like yours
  • your communication methods
  • Can they represent you in an audit before the IRS?
  • Will you be working with the same person all the time?

Warning signs to look out for

Unfortunately, there are accountants who appear ideal on paper but are not exactly what they appear to be. While shady accounting is never good, it can be fatal for small businesses. You must take every precaution possible to avoid working with the wrong person, including interviewing, obtaining references, and completing a background check. You should also remain active in your accounting processes and watch out for red flags, such as:

  • An accountant telling you not to bother keeping receipts
  • One is asked to sign documents or checks without knowing what they are for
  • You will not receive an estimate for services until your tax refund has been determined
  • The communication breaks off or breaks off completely

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