A good accountant is an invaluable partner for a small business. Most business owners don’t become entrepreneurs to crunch numbers and labor over tax laws to uncover small business tax advantages. An accountant, however, can steer you towards small financial decisions and tax-saving opportunities that you may not have known were available. 

Finding the right small business accountant is an important step when you  are starting out

A smart, proactive accountant could, most likely, save you their fee in deductions and avoid compliance penalty fees if you select the right one.  What follows are just a few of many ways that seeking help from the right accountant could benefit your business.

The right small business accountant will:

  • Inform you of ways to reduce your tax liability 
  • Ensure you are aware of reporting requirements and deadlines
  • File your taxes accurately and on-time
  • Suggest ways to manage your finances more effectively to increase profitability. 

Be as selective about who you hire to handle your accounting as you would any other professional partner 

Your first step in searching for the right accountant is to build a short list you would consider ‘partnering’ with because that is exactly what you are doing by hiring a business accountant. 

Your list should only include accountants and accounting firms that meet the following criteria:

  • Experience in your line of business
  • Located in your city
  • Be large enough to handle your business requirements promptly while at the same time maintaining a personal touch 
  • File and prepare weekly, quarterly, and annual tax estimates and returns as required.

As you build a shortlist of potential accountants, leverage your professional network for recommendations. Referrals are one of the best ways to pinpoint the right partner.

Also, consider the tools a prospective accountant uses to file taxes and communicate with clients. If you prefer to handle your taxes online and utilize cloud-based services, make sure your accountant can share, store and file documents using a secure, password-protective client portal. However, if you are more comfortable with paper records, make sure your accountant can work that way as well.

Meet prospective accounts in person before you hire

Always put a face to a name before you hire an accountant to manage your business taxes.  An accountant is one of your business's most important partners. Selecting the right one takes time and careful consideration.

Chances are that many of the accountants you meet look the same on paper and promise quality work. In the end, trust your gut. There are many qualified accountants out there.  The partner you select should be someone you feel comfortable with and who demonstrates an understanding of your business.

A SCORE mentor since mid-2000, Carolyn Clarke has over 32 years of experience in finance, accounting, and auditing. The Waxhaw resident currently serves as treasurer of SCORE Charlotte, which is a group of active and retired business executives providing mentoring to small businesses. 


Carolyn Clarke