Hiring the right CPA can be a game-changer for your business.
A good CPA can save you time, prevent costly mistakes, help you choose the right business structure and accounting method, make tax time less stressful, and even help you set goals and make decisions for your business.
But how do you find the right CPA?
Picking a CPA that suits your needs and values is important. Here are a few things to consider when hiring a CPA for your business.
Why Hire a CPA?
A Certified Public Accountant, or CPA, is a highly-qualified, licensed professional accountant. A CPA must pass exams to get their license and take regular continuing education classes to maintain it and remain up to date on changing tax laws.
In addition to filing your taxes, a CPA can provide strategic financial direction for your business. They can offer guidance on business decisions like whether to lease or buy office space or equipment and how to secure financing to grow your business.
A CPA can also help ensure your bookkeeping systems are accurate and well organized and help you decipher your company’s financial statements so you can use them to make better business decisions. And finally, CPAs can represent you before the IRS in case of an audit.
Having the right CPA by your side can make a world of difference in the growth and health of your business.
Steps to Hiring a CPA
Whether you’re hiring a CPA for the first time or you’re looking for a new one, the process of finding the right fit can be daunting. But considering the benefits a good CPA brings to your business, it’s worth putting in the time and effort to find someone who is well-suited to your needs.
When hiring a CPA, follow these steps:
- Ask for referrals. Ask fellow business owners which CPAs they work with, if they’d recommend hiring them, and why. You could also ask friends and family if they know of a reputable accountant. Make a list of the CPAs that seem like a good fit for your business.
- Do a little research. Next, research each CPA on your list. Check their website for their credentials and the services they offer. Make note of the CPAs that have the specific services you need, such as tax preparation, business accounting, bookkeeping, and so on. While you’re at it, read online reviews from past clients. Look for CPAs that have mostly positive reviews, but don’t worry too much about a negative review here and there — no one can please everyone.
- Set up interviews. Once you’ve found out more about the CPAs on your list, set up interviews with a few of the most promising ones. A face-to-face interview is ideal, but a phone interview or video call can work as well. Ask them questions about their experience, expertise, availability, and fees. See the following section for more details on what to discuss with potential CPAs.
- Make your final decision. Use the information you’ve gathered to choose the CPA that best suits what you are looking for.
In a sense, hiring a CPA is much like hiring a new employee. Considering the information they will be privy to and the fact that they may be working with you for many years, finding a good fit can be vital to the success of your business.
Picking a CPA That Meets Your Needs
As you’re going through the process of finding, vetting, and choosing a CPA, there are a number of factors to consider. For each CPA you’re considering, make note of the following:
- Core values: Look for solid core values like honesty, ethics, trustworthiness, and good communication skills, as well as any other values that are important to you. A good CPA will help you navigate your finances and tax returns without falsifying information, “bending” the rules, or sharing your (or their other clients’) confidential information with others. (And yes, unfortunately, these examples are all too real.)
- Goals: The ideal CPA should share your goals for your business, including the goal of reaching your highest potential for success. Your CPA is a part of your team, and as such they should work to help your business grow, not just file your taxes.
- Availability: This may seem obvious, but make sure the CPA you are considering has the availability to take on another client. If they are overbooked, they won’t be able to give you and your business the attention you deserve.
- Communication Style: Whether they prefer to meet in person, talk on the phone, email, or text, your CPA’s communication style should ideally match yours. Or, at least, they should be willing to communicate with you in the ways that work best for you. If a CPA primarily likes to communicate over email, but you prefer in-person meetings, you will need to find a compromise (or a different CPA if a compromise can’t be reached).
- Fees: Don’t hesitate to discuss cost when deciding which CPA to hire. It’s important to understand a CPA’s fees before you hire them and determine if those fees cover all of the services you need. If you’ve never hired a CPA before, you may feel a bit of “sticker shock” when you first look at the cost…but keep in mind the services they are providing and the value that will add to your business in the long run.
- Expertise: Does the CPA you’re considering have experience with other businesses in your field? Have they worked with companies your size before — or ones that are larger than yours? Make sure the CPA you hire has the expertise needed to help your business thrive and grow.
- Chemistry: Because you will (hopefully) work with your accountant for many years, they should be someone you’re comfortable with. You should feel secure handing over your personal information, asking questions, and sharing your concerns. If you have a bad feeling about a CPA you’re interviewing, trust your gut and move on to someone else.
A good CPA should act as your partner — they should support you, make sure you understand the often confusing language of accounting, care for your financial needs with integrity, and ultimately help you reach your business goals.
If you need a CPA to assist with tax planning and preparation, business accounting, or business advisory services, Wood CPA can help. Contact us today to talk more about how we can help your business grow.