How to Hire an Accountant for Your Small Business

Hire an Accountant

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about hiring an accountant for your small business in 2021 and beyond.

And the best part is that; you’ll also discover where to get professional financial experts to handle your business finances at very affordable rates.

How do I find and hire an accountant?

You’re ready to take your business to the next level, which means it’s time to hire an accountant.

But how do you find the right person for the job? 

You’ll most likely begin your search for an accounting professional online.

It helps to be prepared: instead of going with the first accounting firm you find, be sure to research all candidates.

 Follow this helpful step-by-step guide to locate a qualified accountant:

1. Identify your business needs. Will you need someone for routine day-to-day financial tasks or a CPA for consultations, audits, and tax filing? Will the accountant be required on a full-time or part-time basis? Make sure you’ve prepared a job description so you know what you’re looking for.

2. Ask others for referrals. Asking other small business owners in your industry for referrals can be a great way to start your search. Friends and family members can also be excellent sources for recommendations.

3. Contact professional associations. State boards and CPA societies can provide names of members in your area who meet your accounting needs.

4. Narrow your choices and verify the information. Prepare a shortlist of the best candidates and compile their resumes and references. Verify their education, work experience, and licensing. 

5. Conduct interviews with several accountants. If you need help coming up with interview questions, try these:

    • How do you meet a tight deadline? 
    • What measures do you take to prevent errors in your work?
    • What accounting software, systems, or apps do you have experience with? 
    • How long have you been in business?
    • What is your average tax preparation time?

When inquiring about fees, clarify how they are paid and any additional fees for specialized software or other materials. Will they be working on a monthly retainer, or do they bill hourly?

To determine if they are a good fit for your business, including some personal and team-based questions, such as:

  • What role did you play on a team to revise or improve an accounting process?
  • Why did you decide to go into accounting?

6. Hire and onboard. Schedule the first meeting to discuss financial goals and tax needs.

Give the new accountant up-to-date financial statements and access to business bank accounts and any accounting software.

How much does an accountant cost?

How much you pay for an accountant depends on the type of services you need and how often you need them.

Their rates also depend on their level of experience.

For example, an accountant with over 20 years of experience will charge more than one who has only been in the field for five years.

Typically, plan on spending anywhere from $150 per hour to $500 per hour for accounting supervisors and senior staff accountants.

If your business requires financial analysis, tax audit representation, or long-range forecasting and planning, you’ll pay for their expertise on the higher end of the scale.

The location and type of business are also factors in accountant fees.

For example, if your business is in a major metropolitan area, accounting fees will typically run higher than those in a smaller city.

If you do your books (or use a bookkeeping service like Bench), you only need the accountant to complete and file your taxes.

Handing over clean and accurate books will save you time and money since there is less to do on the accountant’s end. 

The “clean and accurate” part is important, though: keep in mind that many accountants add to their fees if you present them with incomplete or disorganized tax files, need a tax return expedited, need a tax extension filed, or you passed their deadline for providing them with requested information.

Helpful resource: How Much Does an Accountant Cost?

What about using accounting software instead?

You’ve probably seen accounting software packages that guarantee they can replace an accountant.

When used efficiently, sure: an accounting system can provide a full range of tools and analytics for your small business.

But a blind dependence on the software could end up costing you more than hiring an accountant.

If you depend on accounting software without any expert oversight, you may run into problems like these:

  • Inability to tell if the software is flawed: Even if your system is automated, you’ll still need to perform manual audits on a regular basis. Otherwise, you may not be aware of errors in your reporting until tax season. 
  • Lack of proper training: Poor user training can be worse than no training at all. Entering numbers blindly will lead to accounting disaster. Everything from extracting and organizing data, navigating the system, and entering and processing financial transactions requires in-depth training. 
  • You end up doing some tasks manually anyway: It’s easy to be intimidated by the advanced features that can automate many tasks. You can end up taking even more time doing some operations manually instead.
  • You don’t keep the system current: Every software program needs periodic updates to fix bugs, add new features, and improve security. But if you fail to keep the software current, you will experience crashes and unpredictable results.

Accountant + software: the best of both worlds

financial Reporting

When you use accounting software, all of your financials are in one central location, but there’s no guarantee that your information is reliable.

When you add in an accountant, you gain financial planning, auditing, forecasting, and other high-level tasks that software on its own can’t do. 

Combining the power of both can ensure your financial information is accurate and error-free.

Here are a few benefits of the value of combining a good accountant with reliable accounting software:

  • Instead of gathering piles of paper-based receipts and statements, the accountant accesses these records in your system, which is a real time-saver for both of you.
  • The accountant checks the entries in the software to make sure there are no discrepancies or errors. Verifying these entries is especially important before you file your taxes.
  • Accountants are very familiar with accounting software and can teach you shortcuts, advanced features, and other methods that save you time.
  • An accountant can recommend the best accounting software for your small business so that you don’t purchase a package that is either too complicated or lacks necessary features. For example, QuickBooks has several options to choose from, but you may be unsure which type is right for your own business.

Are you ready to hire an accountant?

As a small business owner, you are always searching for ways to save costs and increase revenue, but sometimes it’s best to hand over the work to an expert.

A business accountant can alleviate the pressures of this responsibility and allow you to focus on helping your business succeed.

Get Started With Bench Now

How Bench can help

If you need help with your business finances—but you’re not quite ready to bring on a full-time accountant—the pros at Bench can help.

They cover everything from bookkeeping and banking to tax prep and advisory.

With Bench, you get a dedicated team of experts, including tax pros, to help you complete your monthly books, file your taxes, and plan your financial future.

Use this link and you’ll get 30% off your first three months of bookkeeping and record-keeping support.

Author: Jill Nash

Bio: Jill Nash is a writer for Bench, the online bookkeeping service that pairs you with a team of professional bookkeepers who do your bookkeeping, so you don’t have to.

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