Every year, more than 627,000 small business owners open their companies for the first time. If you’re one of them, you know just how tough getting your company off the ground can be.
One of the hardest tasks business owners have to figure out is filing taxes every year. If you’re not careful, you risk overpaying on your taxes. If you take out too many deductions, you could face fines and high tax bills at the end of the year.
The easiest way to handle your taxes is to work with a certified accountant. Here’s what you need to do to find a professional you can trust.
Talk to the People You Know First
The best way to find an affordable accountant that you can trust to help you with your business is to use your personal and professional network. Ask your friends, family, and fellow business owners for recommendations in your area.
The chances are that someone in your network will be able to recommend a good CPA firm or private accountant that can help you with your taxes.
If you’re not comfortable talking to individual business owners and your personal network fails to produce recommendations, don’t panic. Reach out to your local chamber of commerce and see if they have any partners they can refer you to.
If not, you can always turn your search online. Just be cautious when relying on internet results. Make sure the accountants you contact are familiar with small business accounting processes, not just personal accounting needs.
Small business taxes and personal taxes are very different. Choosing an accountant that specializes in personal taxes is the easiest way to guarantee that you’re missing out on deductions each year.
Think About the Types of Services You Need
Not all accountants provide the same types of services. Before you can choose a certified accountant you can trust, you need to make sure they can do what you need them to.
For example, if you’re looking for someone to help you improve your budget and streamline your bookkeeping process, look for a professional that can do just that. If you’re looking for someone to help you stay on top of quarterly tax filings and maximize your deductions, choose an accountant that offers those services.
Most reputable accountants explain the types of services they offer in detail online. Take a look at their website and contact the ones that you’re most confident in working with.
Schedule Consultations With Several Accountants
Though it’s tempting to work with the first CPA firm you find, it’s never in your best interest. Instead, take your time and schedule consultations with several accountants.
These consultations don’t have to be in-person. You can discuss your concerns and your needs over the phone or through a video chat program.
During that consultation, let them know what your concerns are and pay attention to the way they handle the conversation. The most trustworthy accountants will use the consultation to learn more about your business.
They should ask you questions and find out more about your needs. If you find that you’re driving the conversation and the accountant isn’t being responsive, keep looking. This is a surefire sign that the accountant you’re speaking with won’t prioritize your business.
Be sure to take notes during those consultations and review them after you’ve spoken with several professionals. Compare the answers they gave you in detail. The ones that showed interest and took the time to explain things clearly are professionals you can trust.
Accountants that answered your question vaguely or dismissed them entirely are the ones you should avoid at all costs.
Pay Attention to Their Experience
Typically, the more experience an accountant has, the better they’ll be able to help your business. Take the time to research the experience and education each accountant has.
Ideally, you’ll want to work with a professional that’s been active in the industry for several years at least. However, that’s not the only thing you need to pay attention to.
You also need to find out what types of experience each accountant has working with businesses like yours. The best professionals for your company will have experience working with companies in your industry. If you can’t find someone that’s familiar with your business, don’t panic.
Look for an accountant that has experience helping businesses in similar industries.
Remember, the types of deductions and accounting need each business has varied from industry to industry. When you choose a professional that understands how your business works, you’ll be better off every time you file. They’ll understand the nuances of your industry and can find savings you might not know to exist.
Research Their Reputations in Detail
Once you have a few small business accounting experts in mind, you need to research their reputations. Start by looking online.
Read up on any reviews you can find and see what people have to say about their services. You can always check their reputation with the Better Business Bureau to make sure they operate ethically.
If possible, ask each certified accountant for references before you hire them. Follow up with those references and see what they think about their services. Ask questions about the quality of their service, their professionalism, and their overall skills.
Pay attention to what both the references and online reviews have to say. If most people are happy with the accountant’s work, you’ll be in good shape. However, if they all mention similar problems, the chances are good that you’ll experience those issues, too.
Discuss Their Fees
Before you can comfortably work with an accountant, you need to make sure you can afford their services. Don’t hesitate to ask each professional about their fees and any other incidental costs they might charge.
Trustworthy professionals will be happy to discuss their rates in detail. If an accountant refuses to talk rates and tries to pressure you into working with them, don’t. Let them know that you’re no longer interested and keep looking.
Once you have an idea of what accountants charge to help you with your tax needs, take a look at your budget. The last thing you want to do is to put a serious strain on your monthly operating budget.
If you think a professional is too expensive for your current finances, they are. Keep looking for a professional that you can afford without relying on credit cards or loans to cover their fees.
Find Out What Types of Software They Use
Different accountants use different accounting software and recordkeeping programs to stay on top of your business’s finances. It’s normal for business owners to have to pay for the same software their accountant uses. Doing so is a simple way to make sure you’re on the same page.
However, if you have a preferred program that you already know how to use, see if the accountant would be willing to use that program. If they’re not willing to, you’ll need to either make the switch or find a different accountant.
It’s also a good idea to find a professional that actively tries to stay up to date with the latest technological improvements. Accountants that use the latest software and cloud technology can show you how to use those programs. Even better, since they’re familiar with the latest tech, they’ll be able to keep up with your growing business over the years with ease.
Be Cautious if The Certified Accountant Makes Lofty Promises
Ultimately, accountants are business owners. They want to attract and keep your business for years to come. For trustworthy accountants, this means explaining how they’ll help your company and outlining the services they’ll provide.
They’ll never make clear promises about the amount of money they’ll save you.
If an accountant makes promises that sound too good to be true, don’t work with them. This is a sign that they’re in it for the money and don’t have your business’s best interests at heart.
Reputable professionals will always explain what you can expect even if the news is bad. This helps you make smart financial decisions in the long run and keeps your business more profitable over time.
Hiring a Certified Accountant You Can Trust Is Possible
Working with an experienced certified accountant is a great idea no matter what industry your business is in. However, finding a professional you can rely on for years to come is tough at best.
Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be able to find an accountant that you can rely on as your business grows.
Just remember that it’s okay to take your time. Speak with several professionals before you make a decision and choose the expert you’re most comfortable with.
Running a business is difficult even when everything is going right. Check out our latest posts for more tips and tricks to take the stress out of being a business owner.