Thinking of Hiring an Accountant? Start Here.

Katie Fleming

Katie Fleming

Co-founder and COO of Owner Actions

A small business accountant holds a calculator

Every business has accounting needs. There are financial standards, valuations, and tax concerns to keep up with and work through. There are also financial strategies to compile and forecasting that must take place. Plus, there's an enormous amount of work that goes into daily cash reconciliations, tax prep, reporting, collections, and putting together financial statements to attain financing or prepare to sell your business.

Armed with bookkeeping and tax software, some owners feel confident taking on this work alone. But because of the breadth of knowledge that’s required—and the time these tasks consume—you might prefer to work with an accountant who can take on the bulk of your accounting duties.

 

Can I afford a small business accountant?

Accounting services are a cost you must factor in, but you don’t need to hire a full-time employee to fill this role. Lots of owners choose to work with a professional accounting service to take on their financial tasks.

Outsourced business accountants often charge between $100-$300 per hour. The cost may seem high, but great accountants can be worth every penny. The time they spend on your business's financials is time you can use for equally important tasks. These include developing your strategy, working with your clients, or handling the day-to-day operations.

Depending on your business’s needs, you might work with your small business accountant for a few hours each month or the equivalent of several working days. With whichever option you choose, an accounting service can be a much more affordable than bringing a full-time, experienced accountant on staff.

There are ways to lower your accounting spend without sacrificing the quality of service you receive. For instance, you could contract with a bookkeeper (whose rates tend to be much lower than an accountant's) for certain financial tasks. Or, you might choose to retain some of the accounting work for yourself and work with a fractional chief financial officer (CFO) who can help you with forecasting, financial risk mitigation, and strategic accounting issues.

Wondering if you really need to hire a small business accountant? If you don’t have a background in accounting, can't devote the time to learning accounting standards and practices, or can't keep up with changes to regulations and tax policy, it's a smart move to hire a pro who can help you with your everyday accounting tasks.

How can I find a small business accountant?

Referrals are a great way to find a small business accountant, but you may already know of an accountant by reputation alone. If so, reach out and learn more about the services they offer.

Need some help finding an accountant? Check out some of our favorite firms:

 

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Reconciled

Your Business Deserves the Very Best

Reconciled is an award-winning organization and one of the fastest-growing accounting firms in the country. Their team of entrepreneurship gurus, e-commerce pros, and tech-loving cloud accounting specialists look at your business holistically and help you analyze your spending, measure costs, and find opportunities to enhance margin and profitability, along with taking on your day-to-day bookkeeping. Want to learn more? Click the connect button below for an introduction.

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Xendoo

Be Tax Ready All Year Long

With Xendoo, you can access a dedicated team of expert CPAs and accountants who provide monthly bookkeeping, tax preparation and filing, and tax consulting, three services that will help you stay on top of all your financial needs. Their team can also help you with your personal tax returns, too. You can explore their plans with totally transparent pricing by following the link below, and for a limited time, you can try their online bookkeeping service free for one month. Restrictions may apply. See Xendoo's site for details.

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1-800Accountant

Say Hello to Better Online Accounting

Business owners love 1-800Accountant. Here's why. First, the service pairs you with a CPA who is an expert in your state and industry and can answer the tough questions you have about your business. Second, while many others charge by the hour, or worse, by minute, 1-800Accountant sets you up with an affordable, flat-rate pricing plan so you always know what you'll be paying. Follow this link to try 1-800Accountant for 30 days with a money-back guarantee.

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Interested in some of the other pros we've mentioned?

Consider Bench for bookkeeping services:

 

We also like to recommend these bookkeeping services:

 

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QuickBooks Live

Focus on Your Business, Not Your Books

Thousands of businesses use QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping for cleanup, setup, ongoing categorization and reconciliation, and reporting. By working one-on-one with a QuickBooks-certified bookkeeper, you can gain the confidence you need in knowing your books are always accurate, up-to-date, and ready for tax time. Would you like to learn more about this service? Follow the link below to get started.

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Xendoo

Be Tax Ready All Year Long

With Xendoo, you can access a dedicated team of expert CPAs and accountants who provide monthly bookkeeping, tax preparation and filing, and tax consulting, three services that will help you stay on top of all your financial needs. Their team can also help you with your personal tax returns, too. You can explore their plans with totally transparent pricing by following the link below, and for a limited time, you can try their online bookkeeping service free for one month. Restrictions may apply. See Xendoo's site for details.

Play Video

Bookkeeper 360

Say Goodbye to Messy Books

Bookkeeper 360 is an outstanding program for new and growing businesses.  Their team of U.S.-based bookkeepers will help you set up your bookkeeping program, keep your books up to date, and understand what the numbers mean for your business today and in the future. Follow the link below to learn more about this service and schedule a call with the Bookkeeper 360 team.

 

GrowthForce is another great resource for bookkeeping, accounting, and controller services:

 

A couple of the firms we've mentioned also offer outsourced CFO services. Check them out here:

 

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Reconciled

Advisory and Fractional CFO Services to Suit Your Business Goals

Reconciled is an award-winning organization and one of the fastest-growing accounting firms in the country. Their team of entrepreneurship gurus, e-commerce pros, and tech-loving cloud accounting specialists look at your business holistically and help you analyze your spending, measure costs, and find opportunities to enhance margin and profitability, along with taking on your day-to-day bookkeeping. Want to learn more? Click the connect button below for an introduction.

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airCFO

Best-in-Class Accounting, Finance, and Tax Services for Startups

It can be stressful, confusing, and time-consuming to take on finance and accounting tasks, but these tasks are a must for any growing, thriving business. More than 130 startup founders trust airCFO to set them up with accurate financial modeling, statements, and better financial insights. Follow the link below to learn more. 

Check this out: For a limited time, you can receive $250 off your first month of service, thanks to a discount the airCFO team has set up for Owner Actions. Some restrictions apply. Contact airCFO to learn more.

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Bookkeeper360

Advisory for Startups and Growth-Stage Businesses

Looking for an affordable, on-demand advisor who can help you navigate the financial aspects of your business? Whether you need help optimizing your cash flow, raising capital, strategizing for growth, setting pricing, assessing costs, or analyzing your path to profitability, Bookkeeper360 can dedicate a CFO specifically for your business. To learn more about this service, click the button below.

 

Which qualifications should I look for?

When it comes to full-service accountants, you may want one who is a certified public accountant (CPA). This is an industry-standard verification of a person's knowledge and expertise in the field of public accounting. Try to find a small business accountant in your area who has this designation and experience handling small businesses’ financial needs.

If you plan to work with a bookkeeper, look for one with the certified bookkeeper (CB) or certified public bookkeeper (CPB) designation. Both of these confirm a person's knowledge in bookkeeping (verified through testing and demonstrated experience).

Like accountants, you should expect a fractional CFO to be a certified public accountant or hold a certified management accountant (CMA) designation. The CMA is a globally recognized credential that confirms a pro's expertise in planning and analysis, accounting technologies, performance management, and risk management.

Before retaining an accountant’s services, speak with accountants from several firms to learn about their experience, capabilities, style of communication, and fee structure. Here are some questions you can ask to home in on the best candidates:

 

Experience

How many small business customers do you support?

Can I talk to some of your customers about their experiences?

 

Knowledge

How can you help my business handle its day-to-day challenges and plan for future growth?

Can you assist me with forecasting, tax concerns, or valuations of my business?

What are the qualifications of the person who would handle my requests?

 

Process

How long does it take to complete a small business evaluation?

How often will you communicate with me?

 

Connections

Do you have connections to valuation specialists, attorneys, or other experts who might help me with specific challenges?

 

Cost

Do you charge per hour or by project?

Can you provide me with a written estimate of your costs?

 

How do I move forward with a small business accountant?

Use each accountant’s responses to assess their skills and qualifications. Pair what you learn with online reviews, verification of licensure, a review of the practice’s website, and web searches to ensure you have enough information about each accountant to make an informed choice.

Some small business accountants will allow you to negotiate their rates, so once you’ve made your selection, you may consider asking for a reduction in fees, especially if they are out of alignment with the rates other highly qualified accountants are charging. Then, write an engagement letter that spells out these items:

  • The services you require
  • How long you’ll need assistance
  • The fees you’ll pay upfront, throughout the process, and after completing a service

 

With the right small business accountant in place, you can shift your focus to finding other key members of your team, including an attorney. You can start connecting with tax, employment, and other attorneys through the search tool at the bottom of this page.

 

 

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