As an entrepreneur, you have a number of financial transactions to take care of. Keeping track of everything can be a full-time job itself, taking your focus away from building your business. It's even worse around tax time.
One of the things you can do is hire an accountant to help with some of your financial tasks. Here are some things to think about as you hire an accountant.
What Do You Want Done?
The first step is to figure out what you want your accountant to do. Will you hire someone to work with you in-house, or will you hire someone from an outside firm to take care of a few items. My accounting needs are few; my accountant takes care of my taxes each year.
However, if your company is growing, it might make sense to hire someone to serve on staff. Or you can hire an outside firm to handle payroll, accounts receivables, and other necessary tasks.
Decide what you want the situation to look like, and go from there. When you have a clear idea of what you want, it makes things easier for everyone.
Ask for Referrals
One of the best ways to find an accountant is to ask for referrals. Ask fellow entrepreneurs about who they use. Find out from family members and friends the names of good accountants and accounting firms.
If you are hiring, put ads in the paper. However, it's often best to start with referrals. Your network is composed of people you trust; it makes sense to ask them for their thoughts. Make sure you are clear about what you are looking for. An accountant familiar with business practices — someone experienced in what you are likely to need — is ideal.
Once you have a few referrals you can narrow your choices down to three or four potential accountants.
Interview and Vet Your Candidates
Now that you have three or four candidates to choose from, it's time to interview and vet your candidates. Double check credentials to make sure that your potential account is up to date on required certifications and licenses. Check for ethics violations and complaints.
As you talk to the accountant, find out what his or her speciality is, and try to get a feel for how he or she could help you with your specific accounting needs. Find out about fees as well. In some cases, you might be charged an hourly rate. Sometimes, though, if you are looking for specific services, there is a flat package rate. You might also just need an accountant on retainer.
Make sure, as you speak with your candidates, that you are comfortable with them. Your gut can actually help you make pretty good decisions. You need to feel as though you can trust your accountant, since he or she will be intimately familiar with your company's finances.
Finding the right fit for your accounting needs requires time and effort. But it's well worth it if you can get the right accountant for you.