Starting a new business means you have many plates spinning in the air as you try to manage the many different things needed to get your business off the ground.
Getting the right support is crucial, and choosing an accountant that really understands your business needs and gives you the peace of mind that the financial side your company is in safe their hands.
Checklist: things to consider when choosing an accountant
Get references and check accreditation
It's always wise to do a background check and check their accreditation, which you can usually do online. You could ask the prospective accountant to provide three client references. It would also be useful to get a recommendation from someone who also works in your industry so that you can be sure the accountant has a real understanding of what you are about.
Create a shortlist of candidates
Have a quick introductory chat with a few different accountants, get quotes and make a shortlist. It’s also important to establish how they prefer to communicate with their clients and if this fits with your communication needs.
Traditionally, many accountants only used to meet their clients once a year, but these days, younger and more forward-thinking accountants are embracing the online world and using platforms such as Skype and FaceTime to keep their clients updated on a more regular basis.
Check accountant fees
Often companies are charged by their turnover level, but really, you should only by paying for the amount of completed hours. Check how the accountant works out their charges or fees, as this can potentially save you thousands of pounds. Always ask for a quote based on workload rather than what your company is making.
Stay in contact with your accountant
This is something you also need to keep up on your end; otherwise your accountant won't be able to provide you with the best advice. Keep in touch regularly. Companies often go into liquidation simply because they haven't kept their accountant in the loop, and it has been too late to salvage things after the accountant has stepped in.
By telling them what you want will ensure that they can adapt and evolve to newer ways of working to help you grow your business.
Could you be getting added value?
There are many accountants out there who go over and above for their clients. Some are happy to recommend discounted software; others like to hold regular networking events and business workshops. Some will even give you regular reviews of your finances free of charge, and make recommendations to ensure you get the best profitability. Try and pick one that has a real understanding of customer loyalty and retention.
Keep your records up-to-date
You are legally obliged to keep all your tax up to date, so keep a file of all your bank statements and relevant financial documents for six years. Your accountant isn't your mother, and they certainly shouldn't be your scapegoat if something goes wrong.