Finding a CPA for Your Small Business
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Does Your Business Need an Accountant?
What Accountants Do
Preparing personal and business tax returns and filing them on your behalf Preparing the documents needed to submit a loan or grant application Helping your business manage its day-to-day finances and cash flow Notifying you of clients and customers who have a habit of paying late Warning you about increasing costs that may affect your business, as well as helping you find affordable alternatives Analyzing daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal cash flow patterns in your business Illustrating key financial ratios for your small business Recommending areas to consider expanding or shrinking your business Helping you establish a weekly and monthly budget for your business Taking care of your company’s payroll Helping you prepare financial statements for potential investors or lenders
When You Might Need a CPA
4 Steps to Finding a CPA for Your Small Business
Ask fellow professionals in your circle. Business owners wondering how to find an accountant for their small business may want to start with their peers — meaning, before you search for local CPAs online, ask friends or colleagues if they have any suggestions. Your colleagues will have a handle on what you need and can offer feedback on CPAs they’ve worked with. Check social networks. If no one has any suggestions, don’t hesitate to join a local business community on Facebook or LinkedIn and ask how to find a good CPA for small business. It’s not necessary for your CPA to be local, but it could be beneficial if they are, especially if they have connections with local banks. Make sure they are still certified. CPAs must regularly renew their state licenses. Tax laws change frequently, so you don't work with someone who hasn’t bothered to keep their professional license up-to-date. A fast and easy way to do this is to verify they are listed on your state’s CPA database. Conduct an interview. It can be a good idea to schedule a meeting with a CPA to discuss why you are seeking their services (making sure you ask the questions below). Not all accountants specialize in the same things, so it’s very possible they may direct you to another CPA who is better suited for your needs, or you may feel a need to continue your search.
Evaluating an Accountant
What is the cost? Do they charge by the hour, or do they have a flat fee? Do they have a team? Some CPAs work by themselves, while others have partners or staff. If they have a team, you’ll want to know their qualifications. What’s their availability and typical turnaround time? How quickly can they get back to you if questions come up? How much of their time will you get? How long have they worked as a CPA? Are you their first client or have they worked with hundreds of clients like you? Can they provide references? Even if you became acquainted with your CPA from a friend, it’s never a bad idea to get more references if you can. Will they represent you during an IRS audit? Having a professional explain your finances to the IRS can be a huge weight off your shoulders should you ever be audited. What type of services can they offer? It’s possible they can help you with something you haven’t thought of. Get a full rundown of everything they do — you may end up hiring them for additional services that can help you run your company.
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