Starting a new business can be daunting. Beyond your great ideas there is paperwork, legal responsibilities, marketing, operations and hiring staff and you want to get it all just right. Striking this balance can be a challenge, especially in the early days. It might surprise you to know that one of the most supportive partners you can have on your team will be your accountant, or accounting and tax planning firm. Every business requires an accountant or accounting team. However there is no one size fits all type of accountancy. The needs of your business will be unique to you and may even change over time. The foundation to this is a good relationship with your accountant. This relationship will play a key role in your profitability, but good financial guidance throughout your business development will influence the sustainability and profitability of your business. So how do you set out to hire an accountant who is right for you?
How to Hire an Accountant
You want to hire an accountant who can handle the job. This may be taking on the entirety of your accounting including bookkeeping, staff payroll, filing your tax return, cash flow and tax planning, a mixture of these services or simply signing off your annual accounts for you. Choosing the right provision will depend on the scale and ability of your staff and the time and budget you have available. You want to hire an accountant who is amenable to helping you organise your portfolio of services that will serve you best, beyond rigid package deals. There needs to be a degree of flexibility. The key component to hiring an accountant who is right for you is asking the right questions. Don’t be daunted if you have little knowledge about accounting or what services you might need. The right accountant will help you to understand their role and what they can offer. You need to feel comfortable asking your accountant to be clear as well as confident in their ability to deliver exactly what you ask for. We have put together this guide to help you open the conversation with your new accountant.
1. Do You Specialise in my Industry?
Ideally you want to hire an accountant with experience in your field, whatever industry that might be. There are many financial services that are common between industries. However some industries have peculiarities that your accountant will need to be aware of. Find out if your accountant is familiar with the scale and scope of your business and where you fit within your industry. Are they interested in your field of expertise? A good relationship begins with mutual interests beyond the bottom line. Not all businesses are the same and likewise not all accountants are the same. It’s likely that your business falls within a niche of some kind. Accountants perform very detailed work which reveals a lot about you and your business. If you can work with someone who is experienced in supporting others within your industry, then you are on to a good thing. It’s worth remembering that there will be different experts within an accountancy practice, so ask to be matched up with the right support. Every accountant will develop an expert knowledge of the types of clients they attract. You want to capitalise on finding this nuanced expertise and find an empathetic and guiding influence that fits perfectly with your vision of success. You may be lucky enough to know others trading within your industry who can recommend a specialised accounting practice. But if not, search for an accountant that specialises in your industry and ideally works for other similar businesses. Every industry will have unique traits that your accountant will need to know about. Monthly VAT returns for pharmacies for example. MLM Accountant is a branch of Prestige Business Management with specialist MLM Accounting expertise. If it doesn’t seem obvious which industries an accountant works for, ask them directly. It would be perfectly natural to ask for examples of relevant experience in an interview when hiring new staff, so apply this when you hire an accountant.
2. What is Your Payment Structure?
This can be a differentiating factor when you hire an accountant. Some accountancy practices will charge per hour. This can be appropriate at some levels of industry, possibly because you only need support a couple of times per year. But for a lot of others, especially start-ups and SMEs, maintaining open lines of communication can be more supportive. But you probably don’t want on-the-clock billing for what might be a very simple question in reality. With this in mind consider your expectations and ask directly how these can be fulfilled and at what cost. Different businesses require different forms of support. Start-ups may benefit from working with some mentorship and then come to adjust their package of services over time. Whereas a personal trainer may prefer a set package from the outset with regular check-ins. Every business is unique. The right accountant will offer what is right for you.
3. What Services Do I Need?
This will depend on your expectations. Bookkeeping is the most basic foundation of accounting. This is a record of every business transaction. Embedding good record keeping into your daily running processes will help you maintain good records and efficiency moving forwards and will help keep you compliant. You should be keeping a record of all documents that you have received, or copies of those which you have prepared. These records will be from the accounting period or tax year to which they relate, or sometimes soon afterwards. Prestige Business Management can guide you through the tax return process and provide automated accounts in a format of your choice, depending on how you like to work. We provide full training to all our clients on how to use the best business management platforms like QuickBooks. Further to this you can automate scanning invoices, bills and receipts with apps that we are partnered with including Dext. Further to this your accountant or accounting firm may offer tax planning services, tax filing, corporate or income tax filing and asset management services such as capital gains tax. Ask your accountant what they can offer your business and how these services will add value to your operations. This may depend on the scale of your business which may change over time. Tell your accountant what your expectations are and discuss any specific goals.
4. Will You Help Me Find Answers?
Lastly, find out the capacity of the accounting firm. Some independent accountants are just a one person operation, who focus on compliance but can’t help you maintain tax efficiency. This may be suitable to start with, but if you are looking for the capacity to grow your business, you will need to invest in these other services sooner or later. It’s worth remembering that for a start up there may be a lot of questions that don’t necessarily have straight forward answers and that’s okay. What you need is to have as many resources available to you as possible to help you learn and analyse your business operations. Your accountant can be a valuable part of this process so find out what business development services they can offer. Further to this a good accountant will be upfront if they don’t have the answers. But they should know the right questions to ask and where to get an expert opinion or help by passing you over to another specialist in their team when needed.
Prestige Business Management Works for You
At Prestige Business Management we pride ourselves in our communication and our client orientated focus. All our packages have the flexibility to grow alongside your business. We can help you manage your assets and file your tax return in the most efficient ways possible. We’ll keep you up to date with filing deadlines and forthcoming changes to legislation at all times. Find out what we can do for you. Call us today on 0203 773 2927.