‘A’ is for Accountant

Our business is focused on public relations, social media, and design … mathematicians, we are not. Even if you aced every math test in school, hear me out about the luxuries of an accountant.

Our accountant is head of a small business accounting department of a large financial firm in Chicago (we are based in Austin, Texas now). We could probably find someone just as knowledgeable in the same city as us for a much more affordable rate, but we’re willing to pay a little extra for the luxury of trust.

We use Quickbooks for Mac for daily accounting work, which consists of time tracking, invoicing, paying bills, and managing sub-contractors. The accountant helps us once a year with taxes. Terms like 1099s and W-2s make my head spin and he and his team relieves that headache. Our accountant prepares our annual tax return and delivers our quarterly tax payment coupons.

And, beyond his annual time commitment to us, he’s also a phone call or email away if we need information to help us steer our business in the right direction. We found him after some trial and error with other accountants and have now been through two, going on three, tax seasons together.

So now you understand the importance of having an accountant on your side, but how do you find the right accountant? We did quite a bit of interviewing and, as a mentioned in the previous paragraph, some trial and error. I found that, for us, it was wise to select an accountant with knowledge of businesses our size as well as the size of business we aspire to become so that we can grow with him. I wanted someone that we could depend on for years to come. I also wanted a seasoned accountant that could serve as both an auditor and advisor. Talking with other agencies netted some great recommendations, but in the end our then intern made the introduction. Her dad is a lawyer and has worked with George and his team for years.

While every business is different, here are some questions I suggest you ask your prospective accountant:
1.    How many clients are you currently working with that are in a similar industry to mine?
2.    How comfortable do you feel with working over the phone and email rather than in person?
3.    Could you please share three client references (clients must be current)?
4.    How do you prefer to work?
5.    Are you willing to look at my current records and evaluate where we are and where we should be?

Have you hired an accountant recently? What types of questions would you add to my list? Any other tips you’d like to add?