As a small business owner or a contractor, it can be tough to keep on top of your finances. After all, you got into this line of work to follow your passion, not to crunch numbers.
The only way to make sure you don’t end up spending more time doing sums than enjoying your work is to enlist the services of an accountant. But with so many different kinds of accountants and accountancy firms, how do you know which kind is right for your business?
Check your connections
It is possible that you already know the accountant who would be perfect for you. Using your ready-made contacts is one of the best ways to find employees or collaborators that you will work well with. Employment expert Peter Kazanjy says that “the best hires” can often be “right under your nose”.
What does Kazanjy mean by this? In his experience, as the founder of a “talent discovery” startup that was bought out by Monster.com, the best technique for hiring new employees, or indeed finding new people to work with, was an aggressive referral process.
By exhausting your contact list and LinkedIn connections (and those of your employees and friends) for recommendations, you may well find an accountant that will truly suit your business, culture and style.
Check if they fit your niche
Whether you manage to find someone from your existing network or not, you need to make sure whoever you are thinking of working with is the right kind of accountant for the way you work.
Make sure the accountants you hire fit your niche, and can tend easily to your needs. For example, if you and/or your business operate on a smaller scale, accountancy firms such as 3 Wise Bears and Crunch can offer you access to specialist accountants, trained to deal with the day-to-day operations of freelancers, contractors and small businesses.
Alternatively you may want to expand your small business by hiring an in-house accountant. This will take more of a hit to your finances, and your company’s accountant will be busier at some times than others, but if you desire a high level of commitment from your accountant, hiring one in-house can be the best way to get this.
Check their background
In-house or out-of-house, you need your accountant to be fully-qualified and good at what they do. Unlike many other professions, literally anyone can call themselves an accountant. When you speak to someone who calls themselves a doctor, you know that he or she has had to study and practice medicine for almost a decade to earn that title. Accountants on the other hand have no such prerequisite.
Local Accountants UK says it is best to check an accountant’s qualifications to make sure they belong to a reputable organisation. Degree and studies aside, accountants who are members of recognised accountancy bodies are best for your business as they are obliged to abide by that body’s code of conduct and they will be covered by professional indemnity insurance should anything go wrong.
Finding out an accountant’s qualifications should be easy; just check their CV or fire off an email asking for them. The qualifications every accountant needs are memberships to either ACA, ACCA, CIMA or ICAS. Each of these qualifications has its strengths, explained here.
Check they will go the extra mile
As well as all of these things, you need to find an accountant who is willing to go above and beyond the call of duty when they work for you. For more than just adding up your bills and invoices, a great accountant will find you new ways to save and make money through grants, schemes, funds, and more avenues. The Guardian’s Small Business Network discusses this in full here, but the important thing to remember is this: a good accountant works; a great accountant works miracles.