Hiring an accountant for a small business is a sound business decision that will ensure the financial health and efficient completion of paper work. Each small business will have different needs – partly due to the type of business, the size and age of the business and the current status of the business. For example, the needs associated with a business that is starting up fast will require an individual with the skillset and experience to take the company to the next level, whereas a business who is more steady in its growth approach will require an accountant to help simplify and automate processes, look to reduce inefficiencies and minimize errors, etc. The important thing for any business is to find the right person to fit into the team as efficiently and with as minimal impact as possible. Following are some tips to assist in hiring accountants for small business.
Define the role
The role of accountants has evolved tremendously from simply being the “bean counter” to having an integral role as part of a management team making financial decisions, recognizing financial and other risks, recommending recourse, developing business plans and strategic focus for a business. Before you begin the process of hiring, you need to first determine what your business needs are. Do you require someone to simply handle the books and file taxes or do you want someone to become a more integrated part of the team—someone who can give advice on financial matters, help create financial processes, sign financial statements, undertake statutory compliance work, etc.
Contract versus Staff
An Accountant is someone who might work as an employee of your company or might stay independent and work as a contractor. Which do which? What are you looking for? Are you looking for someone with defined hours, handling the day-to-day bookkeeping needs of your small business, addressing payroll, billing, etc, or are you looking for someone who will undertake specific tasks during their own time, with their own resources and independent of any supervision? This will greatly impact who you will choose to hire.
Hire an Accountant who understands the entire Accounting Cycle
When you are interviewing candidates, focus on those who have experience working within the entire accounting cycle from month-end through to year-end, someone who knows the requirements for filing taxes, annual returns, etc. It is important at this point to find someone who can do these and has done these themselves rather than someone who managed others. You want to focus on someone who does not require ongoing supervision and can be relied upon to complete the work in a timely and accurate fashion. This will give you, as a business owner, more time to focus on growing the business.
Hire an accountant that understands your Business environment or genre
An accountant who is already knowledgeable of the type of business you are engaged in will be that much more relevant as a team member with a much simpler learning curve. Their knowledge and basic familiarity with the unique demands and pressures of accounting for a small business such as yours will become invaluable that much quicker, saving both time and money.
Seek referrals and look for Licensed Candidates and Solid Credentials
This should seem like a common factor; however it is important to get referrals for any potential hire. You can look to colleagues, family and friends to seek through word of mouth. You can also get referrals from professional associations. Get names of other clients and references – these references and professional associations can tell you if there have ever been any issues, complaints or disciplinary actions taken against an accountant.
Get licensed candidates, and choose the one that best meets your needs and duties. Chartered accountants (CA) have global recognition and their services range from startup counselling to acting as a trustee for receivership, insolvency or bankruptcy. Certified management accountants (CMA) integrate accounting expertise with advanced management skills, and certified general accountants (CGA) have a range of duties, from providing insights into financial statements and reports to overseeing internal accounting processes.
Technology – Computer Literacy
A key tip for hiring an accountant is to find out how computer savvy he or she is. In today’s world, where financial institutions and others demand immediate response and immediate access to financial information, you need to hire an accountant who can adapt to that environment. It is no longer simply about spreadsheets; now the expectation is that there will be digital filing and financial statements that can be emailed instantaneously, etc. An accountant with these skill sets will become instrumental to your business’s success.
This article was written by Phyllis Stent, who believes that business tax accountants can save you a lot of money.