Two people going over business paperwork in an office.
With a strong business accountant reviewing your finances, your company can develop informed business strategies that promote growth, and you’ll be organized year-round. — Getty Images/kate_sept2004

In our Startup2021 series, we're helping aspiring entrepreneurs navigate the new business climate of the COVID-19 era. Each week, we'll share an in-depth look at one step you can take toward launching your business in 2021.

Hiring a business accountant is an important step in starting your business. These professionals understand how to manage a company's finances and can help you avoid common financial issues.

Because your accountant will be handling sensitive business data, it’s important to choose yours carefully and thoroughly vet them before hiring. Here's how to find a business accountant for your startup.

What does a business accountant do?

A business accountant is your expert in managing financial information because they’re trained in the fine details of assets, debts and revenue. With a strong business accountant reviewing your finances, your company can develop informed business strategies that promote growth, and you’ll be organized year-round — not just at tax time.

A business accountant is important for your company’s longevity, too. They work with the detailed reports and procedures — on a timeline dictated by your business structure — that keep your company secure and legally compliant.

[Read: Bookkeeper vs. Accountant: Do You Need Both?]

Benefits of hiring a business accountant

If you don’t have a background in accounting work, hiring a business accountant can benefit your company in the following ways:

  • Saving time: Small business owners often take on many roles. Working as the company’s accountant takes time away from other critical business tasks, like management and client relations. Hiring an accountant gives focused time for better efficiency with tasks.
  • Taking care of complex accounting tasks: The financial work of a business goes beyond bookkeeping, which can be confusing. A business accountant makes finance approachable and actionable. By knowing what to track and how to track it, an accountant can manage and analyze financial data to represent it through statements, reports and business suggestions.
  • Identifying tax deductions: Business taxes are complex, and a business accountant is knowledgeable in all the tax deductions and credits a small business is allowed — like travel, legal expenses or even debts from uncooperative customers. By letting an accountant handle taxes, a company can maximize their tax refund.
  • Preventing financial problems: A business accountant has a data-driven understanding of what’s helping or hurting business growth. Through their regular review of expenses and profit, they can bring attention to problems before they’re too big for rebound.

[Read: How to Protect Your Business Bank Account​]

Because your accountant will be closely tied to the best and worst of your business, make sure to prepare questions that determine exactly what kind of partner they’ll be.

Tips for finding the right business accountant

Your business accountant will be an integral part in developing and reaching your business goals, so finding the right one needs careful planning. Here are some tips to find your business accountant.

Get recommendations from your network

Your accountant is an investment in the growth of your business. You can search online, but results can be misleading and may not highlight a match for your business who also brings skills and strategies that put your company on the path for improvement.

Your professional network knows your business, so it’s a reliable way to find support for your unique business needs. Have conversations with your company’s connections — your legal counsel, bank or business coach — and within your industry. They can recommend reputable professionals.

Check for a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license

An accountant doesn’t need a CPA license to be qualified, but the license ensures the accountant has a thorough understanding of and experience with complex accounting concepts, like business law and ethics, financial reporting and auditing. By hiring a CPA, you’ll give your company a professional who will keep current with knowledge and regulations.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has a database of CPAs, and through its membership groups or connected state resources, you can check for accountants with active licenses.

[Read: Starting a Business? How to Set Up Your Accounting Right From Day One]

Ask interview questions that highlight communication

Once you find potential accountants, get a better understanding of an accountant’s fit with company culture and workflow through an in-person or video interview.

Because your accountant will be closely tied to the best and worst of your business, make sure to prepare questions that determine exactly what kind of partner they’ll be. Ask about communication (manner and frequency) and how they’ll address complications and challenges. Your accountant will be a trusted partner, so look for attention to detail and an outlook in line with your company’s trajectory.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

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Published August 02, 2021