Starting and operating a small business poses its fair share of challenges for most owners. There’s a multitude of things to consider at any given time, including hiring employees, purchasing or leasing equipment, and keeping a record of your business’ financial health. Bookkeeping and accounting are parts of running your business that should definitely not be overlooked, especially if you don’t have the formal training to do it yourself. Every dollar counts, and if you’re not staying on top of your business’s finances on a regular basis, you may be in for a rude awakening when tax season approaches. Not to worry, hiring a good accountant is a great way to prepare your business for tax season, allowing you to focus your time on what you do best – running your business.
In fact, many accountants specialize exclusively in helping small businesses, like yours, keep track of their finances. But how do you know which accountant is right for your small business? Let’s take a look at a number of things to consider when looking for an accountant for your business.
Referrals & Networking
The most reliable, and often most effective way of finding any professional service provider, is through word-of-mouth referrals. You never know, the ideal candidate might be right under your nose! It’s best to start by asking family and friends, who run their own small
Besides referrals from family and friends, you can also speak to other small business owners in your area about their accountants. Attending a networking event for small businesses, or reviewing Canadian CPA directories for information and ratings are great places to start.
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Choose a Licenced Professional
As you begin your search, it’s important to speak to many different business owners and organizations – doing so will help broaden your pool of potential candidates. It’s important to ensure you’re conducting thorough research to make sure you’re dealing with a professional who is not only reputable and trustworthy but also qualified in their field with a track record of success. The best way to go about is to confirm their credentials with professional organizations such as the Chartered Professional Accounts of Canada, or, the Society of Professional Accountants in Canada.
The Interview Process
At this stage, having already developed a definitive base of qualified candidates, it’s important to prepare for the next step: the interview process. Don’t take this lightly and take time to adequately prepare for their respective interviews.
Consider using the following questions in an interview setting to see whether your candidates understand your industry and if you’ll be comfortable working with them.
- Do they have experience with your type of business?
- How do they present their services? Are they enthusiastic?
- Have they received recommendations from their clients? Are they positive?
- How long have they been working as an accountant?
- What technology do they use?
- How long do they take to get back to you? How timely are they?
- What are their fees? And how do they bill for their services?
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After Choosing an Accountant
Once you’ve arrived at a decision, it’s important to ensure you and your accountant are on the same page. After all, your accountant will provide valuable services
Ask your account to keep you in the loop. Find out if they have newsletters or blogs to keep their customers informed with any changes in accounting practices, or with news related to your business’s industry. Accountants work with a number of clientele across several industries, and can often provide you with information or ideas that may benefit your business in some way.
Above all, consider your intuition. When you meet your accountant for the first time, besides considering logical evaluations like location, pricing, and experience, ask yourself this: Can I trust this person with details about my business? Can I work with them in the near future?
If your gut feeling picks up negative vibes about that person (such as verbal stress or body language), it’s best to say no and walk away. Even though an intuition may not always be correct, it’s best not to ignore it.