When to Hire an Accountant

Today I stumbled upon a Forbes article, “When To Hire A Professional (And Which Ones To Hire First) At Your Startup.” I assumed – no, I was certain – that Accountant would land the list. Low and behold, you will find Accountant as one of only four professionals listed in this article. So, what gives? Why is hiring an accountant so critical to the success of your business?

In the article, Jesse Kolber points out that “the cost of an accountant doesn’t necessarily equate to quality, but if you don’t find a good accountant from the beginning, you could pay

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dearly later on.” This statement hits a home-run in my mind, as I’ve worked with numerous clients looking to get their books straightened out – after-the-fact. Some clients may have already been in business for only a year, or they could have been in business for many years.

Typically, either the client is so overwhelmed that they continue to dodge out on even starting their catch-up work, or they end up with a fairly big financial hit, since catch-up work can be tedious and time-consuming. Catch-up projects can be prone to missing information, which equates to extra research time for both accountant and client.

Another key point is to hire a good accountant who has the breadth of experience needed to truly assist small business owners. One thing that sets me apart from some accountants is that I have a wide-range of industry experience and have been exposed to multiple facets of business operations. I often work with clients in retail who would not have known about things like sales and use tax reporting, and finding out about those types of requirements later on can cost a business owner big bucks in fines and interest.

Kolber also writes “Our first accountant loved to use fancy words and actually called me a neophyte during our initial consult… [your accountant] should articulate information clearly and thoughtfully answer your questions.” This is great advice for any business owner. Yes, you want your accountant to know their stuff, but you need to know it, too! Trying to lead your business by blind faith in others puts you in a very volatile and risky position.

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When you are looking to hire an accountant, have them glance over your financials and discuss one or two things that jump out at them. Do you fully comprehend their explanation or does their accounting jargon go right over your head? My personal approach is to broadly state things in formal terms and then take the extra time to educate the client on my thought process. Sometimes we may go over the same concept multiple times, but I’m okay with that because I sincerely want my clients to have confidence in what story their financials are telling.

Don’t wait! From day one, keep your eyes open for a great accountant so you can keep your books in order from the start. If you think I might be a good fit for your company, please reach out to me for a free consultation.

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