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Finding Small Business Accountants to Strengthen Your Company

Small business accountants can provide a great deal more than just general bookkeeping. Choosing the right small business accountant can help you grow your business with advice in advance of your decisions more efficiently and cost effectively than almost anything else you can do. Making the wrong choice can cause tax issues and other problems, but switching from one to another is almost always impractical, if not virtually impossible.

Over the years, I’ve seen dozens and dozens of business owners suffering, not so much from bad advice as from indifferent advice, because of their dependence on an out-dated relationship with an out of touch adviser. Why, when other products and services found wanting were jettisoned with a flick of the wrist, do these otherwise smart business owners keep getting their advice from accountants who are no longer relevant?

Often it seems that, over time, their small business accountants gain detailed knowledge of them, of their business and their life, and the business owner can’t face the prospect of telling someone new everything their current small business accountant already knows.

As a result, many businesses stay with the same provider, even if they’re dissatisfied, because the costs in time, money and aggravation of switching are just too high. Are you willing to continue getting less than cutting-edge advice because you’re too lazy or too cheap to investigate your options—and then to bring them completely into the picture?

If so, it pays to make the right choice from the beginning. And if this isn’t the beginning, resolve to go through the pain of switching once so you can go forward with the right people. But, you ask, “How do you do that?”

You should interview a small business accountant the same way you’d interview an employee, because that’s what they are. You should ask to see their résumé, references and credentials, and ask who they’re doing business with that you’ll know. And don’t be tempted by a non-CPA just because they charge lower fees. There are numerous transactions that require CPA involvement. If your small business accountant isn’t certified, you’d have to use another service at these times.

OK, maybe that’s a little strong, especially for those who live in remote areas where there are slim pickings for professional help. If the person you choose isn’t a CPA, they must either have one in their office or have a close working relationship with a CPA who will be available to you in those situations where their expertise and credentials are necessary.

During the interview, ask what kind of creative advice the accountant is able to offer. If they have the knowledge, small business accountants can be your primary source for tax planning, business consulting and personal financial advice. They can also help you grow a network of service providers you may need in the future. They know their clients well enough to make referrals, which can be an invaluable tool for finding a good lawyer or other service provider.

You should be sure that the person handling your business’ money makes use of all of the tools available today. They should be familiar with business management software and make full use of it.

One of the things you need to be sure about before you hire a small business accountant is the fees they charge. This may sound like common sense, but many business owners fail to ask. A CPA may charge an hourly fee based on the amount of time that he or she spends on your books. But CPAs may also charge for time spent on the phone with you or for sending faxes or emails. If a simple, two-minute phone call is equivalent to an hour of billable time, interview someone else.

In short, small business accountants can help or hurt your business. Choosing the right one now will save time, frustration and, possibly, money in the future.

Individuals who think strategically, plan comprehensively, and execute flawlessly will certainly outpace those who simply set goals and hope for the best. They understand the importance of developing skills and relationship that will move them toward their objectives.

If you want to be more successful in the future than you are today, you should always be on the lookout for ideas and resources to help you. Each of us is concerned about the continuous refinement of our strategies and tactics toward enhanced productivity and greater profitability. And yet, for most of us, there’s a gap between where we are and where we want to be next year and the year after that.

If you had the tools to achieve greater success, would you use them? And if these tools were available at no charge, simply by asking for them, would you even take the trouble to ask—let alone actually use them? If you think there is a chance that resources exist you can benefit from, visit and read the announcement linked to the homepage.

Charles Wallace can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at (212) 501-4912.

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