A small business bookkeeper plays some of the most significant roles in your company. The accuracy they have when performing their accounting tasks can either make or break your business. For this reason, it is crucial that you are very selective when choosing a bookkeeper for your business. To help you out, our knowledgeable team of small business CPAs have created a checklist of things to consider when hiring a bookkeeper. Read below to learn more.
1. Is this person an actual CPA? Or are they just a tax accountant?
Tax accountants focus their training on dealing with how much taxes a business should pay. Although this can be advantageous in some ways, your small business has more financial responsibilities than just taxes; this is where hiring a Certified Public Accountants comes into play. The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy requires small business accountants who wish to become CPAs to undergo at least 150 semester hours of education, at least 30 hours of advanced accounting education, and at least 24 hours of business-related education. This rigorous training makes our team of small business CPAs experts in almost all business financial processes like bookkeeping, tax planning and preparation, and financial advisory.
2. Have they been a CPA for at least a decade?
CPAs receive one of the most comprehensive trainings in all professions. Nevertheless, nothing can beat experience when it comes to handling business financials. Some principles, such as vendor communication, critical reports per industry, and more, are not something you can learn in accounting school. Hence, you need to choose a bookkeeper that has at least a decade of experience in your specific industry.
3. Does this firm have great online reviews?
Bookkeeping providers often brag about how effective their bookkeeping processes are. However, there is no better source of information on the quality of a bookkeeper’s services than their past clients. Online reviews are quick and easy ways to find out what makes a bookkeeper great and what areas they are lacking. Some of the best sources of online reviews are customer driven sites like Yelp and Google. Utilizing these reviews will allow you to see how clients view that CPA’s services. So for example; your goal is to grow your business so you need a CPA that specializes in small business financial advisory. As you are doing your research online you find a firm that says they have virtual CFO services, but they have reviews that say that they do a decent job at their financial advisory services but tax preparation is their expertise; this allows you to know that is not the CPA for you before you waste valuable time and resources.
4. Do they have experience doing extensive bookkeeping setup and cleanup projects?
Most businesses, once in a while, have to deal with terrible bookkeepers. These bookkeepers can muddle your books with unnecessary data, making it almost impossible to use. On the other hand a lot of small business owners try the DIY approach with their bookkeeping tasks. This often leads to two results; they get overwhelmed with managing these tasks so they stop doing them all together or they are simply doing these tasks incorrectly. This is a huge issue, because at least 65% of our new clients need us to clean up their books in order to stabilize their business. This means that 65% of people were at risk of making financial decisions based off of incorrect financial metrics. This can have a huge impact on your ability to scale your business. So, when you decide to hire a small business bookkeeper for the first time or if you are replacing the current bookkeeper you have, make sure that they can reorganize, and clean your books effectively. Otherwise, you’d be better off settling with your previous accountant.
5. Do they have a multi-layered review process?
You should always make sure to hire a CPA that has at least 2-step review process. This allows there to be a process in place to ensure that your financial metrics are accurate at all times. For example The Fusion CPA multi-step review process is extremely meticulous. This process consists of a client’s project being executed by an initial preparer, but that project is not marked as completed until it is reviewed by multiple managers including Senior Tax and Accounting Managers and our CEO. This allows us to eliminate the possibility of projects being sent out to clients that includes errors. Because we specialize in working with small business we understand the importance of taking the time necessary to make sure that our clients are making financial decisions based off of the most accurate financial metrics as possible.
6. Do they provide notifications when your books are reconciled?
Reconciling your books is important because it allows accountants and business owners to know that your ending balances coincide with your actual transactions. This process can sometimes be very time consuming especially if your accounting team is waiting on you/your team to provide them with imperative clarification information. For this reason, it is imperative that you are notified when clarification is needed in order to complete the reconciliation process, and also when the reconciliation process is complete. The major risk of not having this information could cause major financial issues for your business.
Think of it like this, you need to purchase a large piece of equipment so you review your financial metrics, and you see that you have enough cash to make this purchase so you do. However, what you do not realize is that your bookkeeper was not done reconciling your books so the metrics you were seeing were wrong and you in fact do not have the cash to make this purchase. This could have been avoided if you know to expect an alert from your accountant when your books have been reconciled thus you are able to pull financial reports.
7. Do they lead with technology?
The grasp of innovation reaches almost all professions and industries. Hence, it is crucial that your bookkeeper keeps up and utilizes the latest accounting technologies. By doing so, the efficiency and effectiveness of how they do their work are always on par with the highest accounting standards. Furthermore, some advantages of using the latest accounting programs include higher levels of accuracy, faster report creation, and continually updated financial records.
8. Do they have a secure end-to-end client document sharing to prevent identity theft?
An accountant is one of the few people that you are able to trust with your business’ confidential information. The need to have a secure way to transfer of information to them is extremely important in order to prevent things like identity theft. So, to avoid this from happening, make sure that your chosen bookkeeper uses encrypted platforms and secure servers to store your data.
9. Is this CPA growth minded?
Having a CPA on your team that is growth minded will play a huge role in your ability to scale your business no matter what industry you are in. If you are working with a CPA who is only responsible for categorizing transactions or preparing tax returns; what value are you truly getting from that person? They are just maintaining your financial records, and that is a decent approach if your goal is to stay stagnant within your business. However if you want to take your business to the next level your must have a CPA on your team that is able to utilize your financial metrics to create a custom financial growth strategy for your business. If you have no plan in place to help you grow then you risk not being prepared if organic growth happens.
10. Do they offer Bookkeeping and tax minimization strategy planning?
One of the most significant expenses you’ll face as a small business owner is taxes. Currently in Georgia, corporate income taxes take 5.75% of your net income. This rate doesn’t include other taxes such as sales taxes, withholding taxes, film taxes (for entertainment businesses), and more. So, you must have an accountant that can help you reduce the burden of taxes. Otherwise, you’d only be growing the government and not your business.
11. Do they have a standardized accountability process?
It is very important that you work with a CPA that has and understands the importance of having a standardized accountability process in place. This means that they have created a system that re-enforces accountability within their team and also requires the same level of accountability from your team. Any growth oriented CPA will tell you that without accountability your firm cannot grow, and this is because you must connect accountability with performance in order to measure success. This allows you to review your processes and results and provides you with the ability to correct issues before they cause a major financial problems.
12. Do they offer monthly call availability?
Consistent communication with your bookkeeper can help them uncover intricacies within your accounting process that is unique to your business. Without constant communication, your small business bookkeeper you lose the ability to have an impartial sounding board for your financial decisions. Being consistent also allows your small business CPA to ensure that you are on track to achieving your goals, and it allows them to revise your financial strategy before you fall behind.
13. Do they schedule strategic tax & business planning strategy calls?
Besides recording your financial transactions, another responsibility of a small business bookkeeper is to help you create strategies for your business. Their training in business processes allows them to scrutinize your business basing only on the transactions they handle. A tax & business planning strategy call will allow you to discuss points of improvement your bookkeeper may have identified while maintaining your books. For example, if your bookkeeper sees that your payroll recently included 50 new employees. They may suggest that you apply for the Quality Job Tax Credits incentives in order to reduce your tax bill.
The decision to hire a CPA is one that entrepreneurs often hesitate over, but it is rarely a decision they regret. When selecting a CPA make sure to hire one that fully embodies these 13 points to ensure that they will be fully invested in your company and focused on your success. Good bookkeeping is not merely crunching numbers and should include identifying patterns in your business finances with a growth-centered approach. Call us today to discuss how we can save you time, energy, and money through our small business accounting services.
This blog article is not intended to be the rendering of legal, accounting, tax advice or other professional services. Articles are based on current or proposed tax rules at the time they are written and older posts are not updated for tax rule changes. We expressly disclaim all liability in regard to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this blog as well as the use or interpretation of this information. Information provided on this website is not all-inclusive and such information should not be relied upon as being all-inclusive.