The Wrong Way to Choose a Small Business Accountant

Michael McDevitt

Michael McDevitt


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To the outside world, accountants can seem like a strange breed. Spending most of our days buried under forms, spreadsheets and receipts, we can help make or break your business – not to mention your payroll and Schedule C.

Choosing the right accountant for your small business isn’t always as easy as it should be. There are a lot of us out there, and the right professional for one company can be a poor fit for another. With that in mind, here are the three worst ways to choose a small business accountant:

Waiting until the last minute.

It’s amazing how many people will show up at an accountant’s office with a stack of receipts in late March or early April and hope to get some top-shelf tax advice. It’s not that we can’t or won’t help them, but they’re making it difficult for us to do our jobs properly.

A good CPA will take an in depth look through your company’s finances, finding out where it’s healthy and which areas could use some improvement. Based on that info, we can not only help you run your small business more smoothly, but also make sure you’re getting every tax credit and deduction that’s coming to you.

The less time we have to do this, however, the more likely we are to miss something that could help, so try to see an accountant before it becomes an urgent issue.

Picking the first name out of the phone book.

There are hundreds of accountants in your local directory for a reason – some are better than others, and most of us have certain specialties and areas of expertise where we can be particularly helpful. Trusting part of your financial future to the first person who answers their phone isn’t likely to help you find the professional you’re looking for.

A better strategy is to narrow it down to two or three candidates based on their respective backgrounds. Ideally, you’ll want an accountant who is familiar with the kind of work you do, and has been recommended by a couple of your more successful peers. But speaking of recommendations…

Following referrals blindly.

It’s great that you’re golfing buddy has a good accountant that he or she trusts, but does that mean you should use them, too? Unless you’re in the same business (and maybe not even then), the answer could be a strong “no”.

Why? Because, even though it’s a good sign that someone you know and trust is recommending them, you don’t know enough about their background and skills to tell whether they’re a good fit for your business.

So how should you find an accountant? Visiting sites like this one is a good first step. Take a look through some similar articles and notice which professionals have clients with businesses like yours. Once you’ve identified a few that look like a good fit, schedule a meeting and find out more.

It might be tempting to take one of the quick ways to find an accountant, but you’ll only be shorting your own business in the long run.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about BiggsKofford and if we could be the right firm to serve you and your business.

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