Every business, regardless of size, needs a trusted advisor to help with the planning and achievement of financial goals. Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) have the advanced training and experience necessary to advise on a variety of tax matters.
Among their other qualifications, CPAs must pass a rigorous state examination, and keep their knowledge up to date by completing a requisite number of continuing education hours each year.
Why Your Business Needs More Than a Bookkeeper
Many small business owners are unclear where a bookkeeper’s role ends and a CPA kicks in. So let’s take a brief look at their professional responsibilities:
Experienced Bookkeepers or Accountants perform organizational and data entry tasks that include recording the figures related to your company’s income and expenses. They prepare and analyze financial reports, such as your company’s income statement and balance sheet. They are professionals who follow the very stringent rules outlined in Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).
CPAs are accountants, but not all accountants are CPAs! Certified Public Accountants are the most qualified professionals when it comes to performing detailed and strategy-based analysis and forecasting around your company’s financial data.
While all financial experts will add value to your business, CPA’s keep current with knowledge of state and federal tax codes and are sanctioned representation at IRS tax audits
What to Look for in a Certified Public Accountant
In many cases, the success of your venture will derive directly from the quality of professional advice you receive. Choosing the right CPA for your needs is critical, but some business owners are unsure where and how to begin their search.
Here are some key considerations that should help get you started.
• Industry Experience: Make sure the CPA you hire has other clients in the market you’re in. Many industries are unique in terms of the best ways to track and optimize inventory, costs, or company expenses. An experienced CPA will help you navigate these areas efficiently and profitably.
• Availability: How easy will it be to get in touch with the individual in charge of your account when you have questions or need financial advice? You should also consider the professional qualifications of whoever will be assigned to assist you.
• References: Choosing the right accountant is crucial when it comes to making the most of the business you’re in. Word-of-mouth recommendations from other business owners in your industry are a great place to start. Don’t make the mistake of choosing a CPA based on pricing alone.
Some pertinent questions you may want to ask include:
• Does the CPA or accounting firm provide services, and respond to queries, in a timely manner?
• Do they keep their clients in the loop regarding tax law changes and other relevant business information?
• How modern is their infrastructure in terms of technology?
It’s not uncommon for many small business owners to you to hire an outside bookkeeper to help with some of your more routine financial tasks. Be sure you have the right CPA lined up to review and sign off on the results of those tasks – one who’s capable of turning financial analysis into solid business advice.