5 Questions to Ask for Hiring the Right Small Business Accounting Service

Not all accountants provide the same specialty of service.  Be sure you choose wisely.

Your small business means a lot to you, and it should. It gives you the freedom to do the things that you care about and maintain financial independence in your life. Managing the finances of your business can seem like a job all by itself; that’s why there are small business accountants who do

just that as a profession. Most small business owners rarely have enough time, enough technical knowledge, and enough awareness about common financial procedures to handle all their financial decisions and reports all on their own. Help from a qualified expert in financial organization is key to keeping your finances together. It is important to find someone that has all the right qualifications to serve the best interests of your business. When looking for the right small business accountant and bookkeeper, here are five basic questions you should have answers to.

1. Exactly what kind of services are you looking for? Maybe you need someone to do your annual tax returns, or perhaps you are looking to make an investment and need some advice about what is best for your business. Maybe you need help making a budget or implementing a retirement plan. Some accountants only provide one or more services. Others provide a broad base of services common to small businesses. Make sure your prospective accountant can supply all that you need from him or her.

2. Does the accountant offer bookkeeping services? Bookkeeping and accounting are often divided and regarded as two different aspects of financial maintenance. Bookkeepers are charged with the critical job of providing precise records of all your business financial transactions. These records are essential for monthly statements, loan and investment applications, payroll, financial forecasting, financial analysis, and accurate tax returns amongst other things. An accountant, on the other hand, utilizes the records created by the bookkeeper to prepare documents for the items just mentioned. Accountants know how to perform bookkeeping, but a bookkeeper may not necessarily be qualified to do accounting. Some accountants offer bookkeeping as one of their services, but many do not.

3. Is the accountant certified? A certified accountant is state certified to do accounting. There are several designations of certified accountants. A CPA (Certified Public Accountant) has passed the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Exam and has met additional education and experience required by the state. A CPA has to maintain certification and license by gaining continuing education credits. Some CPAs acquire additional accreditation. A CMA (Certified Management Accountant) is an accountant that is certified to have advanced financial management knowledge in specific areas. Other CPAs are accredited for additional areas of accounting such as business valuation. There are many variations to the services accountants are certified to offer and rules of certification vary state by state.

4. Does the accountant have experience in your industry? Some accounting firms specialize in specific or related industries, and work exclusively or preferentially with those kinds of clients. Other accountants have a broad base of experience, or have knowledge of several industries. Your accountant should have some familiarity with your industry. This knowledge makes him or her better equipped to engage with your unique financial needs and realities.

5. Does your accountant have a strong network? A small business accountant with a strong network of financial associates can offer you a well-rounded experience with access to a solid database of resources and information.