Each year, as your business grows, management of accounting tasks gets trickier. Business priorities shift, whether due to outside factors or your own needs. Sometimes, it can feel like a great weight to handle everything on your own. When this happens, you will start to look for help, and often, that starts with an online search of “accounting firm near me.”
Even a very good accounting firm website can only tell you so much! Finding the right accounting firm is about finding a trustworthy partner in managing specific financial aspects of your business. Regardless of the industry you work in, you want an accounting firm that meets your needs.
Why Work With An Accounting Firm?
The pandemic opened up a flood of new questions for businesses about PPP loans, payment for remote workers, furloughed workers, and more.
Even without a global crisis, there are some areas where it’s helpful to have a professional team on board. Just keeping all your paperwork and systems up to date is time-consuming, regardless of your business size.
- An accounting firm can save you time and resources by leveraging the experience and expertise of a qualified team to take care of your financial document preparation, payroll, and more. This allows you to focus on building your business.
- They can serve as a trusted advisor – especially when you’re starting out as a business owner. Whether making a decision about your business structure or setting up systems for monitoring cash flow and payments, you’ll have somewhere to go with your questions.
- You’ll be able to more easily avoid risk, whether due to a lack of knowledge or via a painful mistake in your paperwork. An accounting firm can look out for your best interests and ensure that if there is an issue, there’s a plan in place to handle it.
Finding the Right Accounting Firm
So, you’re ready to invest in this important part of your business. What should you look for in an accounting firm?
First and foremost, you want to look for credentials. Is the firm a member of local or national organizations that provide oversight for certified public accountants (CPAs)? Credentials can provide peace of mind that the firm places a high value on integrity and transparency but submitting their work to routine independent audits.
Another thing to look for is whether they provide the services you need. There’s general bookkeeping, financial statement preparation, and more specialty services to consider. For instance, if you are a government contractor, you may need an accounting firm that specializes in consulting and compliance for your field.
Finally, you want to be comfortable with the firm you fire. Is it important to you that they feel like a part of your team? How much communication and availability do you need? What are your expectations? Understanding what you want from an accounting firm is an important step in finding the best one for you.
Questions to Ask An Accounting Firm
Before you agree to work with a specific firm, you’ll want to take advantage of an initial meeting or consultation to learn more about the firm and what they can do for you. It’s also time to ask questions that will get to the heart of those needs and expectations you’ve outlined.
Has the firm worked with a business like yours? If possible, ask for references from current or former clients. You can also look at online reviews or testimonials. Do they understand the nuances of your industry? For example, this is particularly relevant for government contractors, where recordkeeping and financial reporting is of utmost importance.
What are the fees/payment expectations? Make sure you have a clear understanding of your own cash outflow to be sure you can manage on-time payments for services. You should also get up-front pricing for services as well as any additional services you might need so you can compare pricing, and plan ahead for your total expenses for the year.
How will the accounting firm communicate with you, and how often? This is where your expectations should be clearly stated – do you want weekly meetings or will email suffice? How quickly can you expect a response when an issue arises? You should also allow for the firm to let you know how they typically work and see if you (or they) can adjust expectations if needed.
Can they explain complex accounting information in a simple way that you can understand? It can help to come with a specific question in mind about something that’s been a pain point for you. Listen for accounting jargon, and speak up if you don’t understand. How they respond will tell you a lot about what it will be like to work together.
Working with Cheryl Jefferson and Associates
Our boutique firm specializes in small business accounting, financial statement preparation and review, and government contracting services. We’d love to discuss your accounting needs, get to know our team today!