Hiring an accountant for your small business can be expensive, so you may wonder if you really require one. And what, beyond filing your tax return, do you need them for? But if you’re serious about growing your business, you need a great accountant, because they can help you make those long-term strategic financial decisions.
They can also help with:
- Lease negotiations
- Cash and treasury management
- Ongoing tax reporting
- Financial planning
Finding an accountant that’s right for you
The best advice is to work with someone who really understands your business and its ambitions. A starting point for finding an accountant is to ask contacts in your industry for recommendations and referrals. Once you’ve secured a few potential leads, arrange to meet each accountant for an initial consultation.
In that initial meeting, you should focus on assessing three things:
Do they understand your business?
An accountant who works predominantly with clients in your industry will hold specialised and up-to-date knowledge that could help you to take advantage of tax breaks and deductions. They will also know how to navigate your type of business through any changes in tax laws as and when they occur.
Are they easy to understand?
Tax regulations contain a lot of technical language. Find an accountant who can explain complex tax topics in an accessible and simple manner. A pro who helps you to understand financial topics will also be teaching you to better understanding and management of your business.
Can they handle your business needs?
Depending on the size, ambition and complexity of your business, you may require a strong team to dedicate themselves fully to your business’s needs and work directly with you on high-level business planning. Make sure whoever you choose is able to handle your present and future accounting requirements.
The acid test? If you’ve found the right accountant, six months in you’ll no longer be wondering if you need one and asking what they can do for you. Instead, you’ll be singing their praises.
How to work with your accountant
Your accountant should inform you about certain tax topics. We’ve put together a short summary of what you’re likely to cover with them. They’ll also help you to work together effectively and ensure you haven’t overlooked anything before filing your next tax return.
Deductible business expenses and how to maximize deductions – Costs that are ordinary and vital for running your business are fully deductible as business expenses. Your accountant will consult on whether you qualify for certain deductions and find ones you may have missed. While many business expenses are fully deductible, some are only partially deductible. Examples of this include food and beverage costs, and usage (particularly shared) of a home office or services such as phones, power and internet connections. Your accountant can sort out the deduction for each item based on what percentage of its use is for business purposes.
Health insurance deductions – As a self-employed person, your health insurance premium is a deductible expense. However, if you are participating in your spouse’s employer’s insurance plan, you can’t deduct the cost of a different plan you have opted to pay into instead.
Your accountant will elaborate on these rules and determine whether you qualify for a deduction.
Changes to tax regulations that affect your business – Most accountants are required to spend a certain amount of time each year familiarising themselves with new tax regulations. Good accountants will contact you when there are changes to tax regulations that will affect your business, informing you of any way in which you can use those changes to your advantage.
How your business’ legal structure affects your tax filing – A good accountant should help you to understand any tax requirements that are unique to your business’ legal structure. They will also advise you if changing the structure could have tax benefits.
Working with the right accountant on a long-term basis can lead to faster growth and ongoing financial success, as well as less stress. Finding the right accountant and working efficiently with them may require time, money and effort to get right, but in the long term it’s a business investment – and one you won’t regret.