It can be a tough task finding the perfect accountant for your creative small business. Once you’ve narrowed down your list of providers, I recommend hopping on a quick 15 minute call to learn more about your accountant. During this call you’ll want to see if they are a good fit for you and your business needs. Even though we live in a virtual world, I think it’s important to connect via a call or video chat to get a better sense of personality, and start building the side of the work relationship that an email cannot convey.
Hint: Hire someone who you will enjoy working with – someone who understands and cares about the success of your business. Many accountants have never worked with virtual businesses who sell digital products, generate affiliate or online ad revenue, so it’s important to understand who their target client is.
Top 5 Questions to Ask Your Small Business Accountant
- Who is your target client?
If your accountant doesn’t have a specific client in mind or if they specialize in assisting clients outside of the scope of your business, you may want to continue your search. Because I work with creative entrepreneurs, I have a deep understanding of the business structures, deductions, and tax regulations that are associated with photographers, graphic designers, bloggers, design agencies, etc.
- Are you a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), an Enrolled Agent (EA), or Bookkeeper?
I may be a little biased, but I would recommend hiring someone who has CPA at the end of their name – for a few reasons:
- The Certified Public Accountants (CPA) designation is one of the most widely recognized and highly trusted professional designations in the business world.
- A CPA is licensed by a state, and must keep current with tax laws in order to maintain a license in that state.
- After they are licensed, CPAs also must comply with continuing education requirements in order to maintain their licenses; accountants and bookkeepers don’t have this requirement or restriction.
- CPAs must abide by the AICPA Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and are at risk of loosing their license if they do not comply with these rules and regulations.
- What are your fees?
Consulting, tax preparation, and bookkeeping fees can vary widely depending on the size of the firm you are working with, the structure of your business, and the amount of transactions your business processes. Asking for a fees upfront can save you from a lot of heartache in the future. My philosophy is to be up front and transparent about my pricing, which is why I list my fees directly on my website.
- Do you provide any education or training?
I’m a big fan of the show Shark Tank, however it seems like every season there is a guest on the show who has no idea what their financials are for their business – and they never get a deal. I’m all for working on your passion, but understanding your business financials are imperative for future success of your business – your accountant should be able to assist you in understanding this information. I spend a lot of time on client education in my blog, on my YouTube channel, and via my Be Your Own CFO course.
- Do you have any references?
When you’re hiring an accountant, you are trusting that person with your most sacred business information, and it’s important to check reviews and references. Most accountants will have a few clients that will vouch for the level of service they provide. A quick Google search for reviews can ensure you’ve found the right accounting partner for your business.