Financial integrity is everything when you're starting a small business, or even if you've been operating for a couple of years. Yet the temptation is great to think that, if you're the owner or office manager, you don't need to hire accounting professionals. You can handle all the accounting functions yourself. After all, isn't that what QuickBooks is for?
The truth is, there may be more effective ways to handle this crucial aspect of your business. In other words: It might be time to hire an accountant.
Many small businesses may balk at the expense of hiring an accountant, but the investment can actually save money for your business and, in the end, pay for itself.
How can accounting professionals help your small business?
When you hire skilled accounting professionals, you create some insurance against ineffective or even faulty financial management. For each stage of development your small business is in, the right accountant can be a lifesaver.
When a business is in the startup phase, an accountant can:
- Advise on what type of company to form (such as an LLC, C corporation or S corporation)
- Guide the financial section of your business plan
- Help you make decisions about how to maximize profit if your personal finances are tied to the company's success
When a business is operational, an accountant:
- Manages day-to-day financial transaction recording and ensures it is compliant with the law
- Finds cost savings with vendors, employees and office operations
- Manages tax preparation, including all forms for employees and contractors, payroll tax withholdings and financial reports
- Oversees payroll
- Plans for changes in business expenses to ensure that additional costs do not cause financial hardship
- Can design a financial safety net in case of a catastrophic event such as the death or disability of one of the business owners
During a growth period, an accountant:
- Advises on how to handle financial growth by providing financial reports and insights on opportunity
- Safeguards your small business against audit or helps work through the process if the company is audited by the IRS
- Helps with planning expansion, opening new locations or even selling the business
If your business is in financial difficulty, your accountant can:
- Identify problem areas
- Write new plans to bring finances under control
- Work with creditors to set up payment plans, remove liens and reduce interest charges
Does your small business need full-time accounting professionals?
In some cases, hiring accountant professionals for short periods of time or for particular projects, such as tax preparation, may make more sense for businesses with a small number of employees. A staffing agency focused on placing interim finance and accounting professionals can help you during especially busy periods.
Many small companies find that dedicated accountants — either full time or temporary — can find cost savings throughout the business and advise on budget planning, taxes and relevant laws and regulations.
Ultimately, most small business owners realize compensation for one employee is well worth the expense. An accredited expert can manage a company's finances far more profitably than even the most passionate amateur. The right accountant could be the best new hire your small business makes.