There is no doubt that accountants are an integral part of a company’s structure, irrespective of the size of the business or whether it is done in-house or outsourced. Some small business owners still hold off having an accountant until they feel it is necessary or when they are desperate for one. However, even though it may not seem like it, the role of an accountant at the very inception of a business cannot be underestimated.
If you have a small business and are not ready for an accountant or cannot afford one, you should consider a bookkeeper to start. Understanding the two roles is important to know which the better fit choice for your small business is and at which stage of company growth.
A bookkeeper ensures there is a record of all the financial transactions, including sales, purchases, receipts and payments. Many small businesses use software such as Xero and QuickBooks to help with bookkeeping. Accounting software gives a vivid picture of the company’s financial data at a glance.
An accountant then verifies the collected data. For example, he will compare the expenses against the receipts. In case of any discrepancies in the data, an accountant will easily identify them. The accountant also provides an analysis of the financial reports, which help entrepreneurs to look for opportunities for growth.
If the financial reports show a downward trend, business owners may need to take radical steps to reverse this. If there is a need to restrict spending, an accountant will point this out and give warnings of what could happen if the necessary steps are not taken now. It costs more to hire an accountant than a bookkeeper because an accountant looks at the bigger picture and makes considerations for the entire business.
Do you need a full-time accountant, or can you have one come periodically to look at your books? These critical questions will serve as a guide when looking for an accountant. Your choice of accountant is essential because you will be relying on the reports from him or her to make decisions that will directly impact your business.
How much is the accountant asking for and can you afford it? The fees vary for different accountants and accounting firms. You may want the most sought-after accountant, but can you manage his pay? If you cannot afford to have him look at your books weekly, can you do it bi-weekly or once a month? The decisions you make will ultimately be pegged on affordability and quantity of transactions. If your company has massive sales and the volume of entries is overwhelming for a bookkeeper, you should consider having a full-time accountant.
Scope of Services Offered
An accountant’s job is not limited to managing entries and releasing financial reports. When looking for an accountant or accounting firm, it would help if you looked at the range of services on offer. These include weekly or monthly payroll processing, filing taxes, and production of audit reports. When looking at accounting firms, it is best to look for one that has accountants with various specialties. This way, you can get a professional to help you overcome any accounting hurdle you come across as the business progresses.
Will You Be Sufficiently Represented in Case of a Tax Audit?
Every business owner worries about the nightmare process that comes with a tax audit. It is best to be compliant and have all the necessary records to ensure the process is short and swift. You also need someone who can represent you adequately during the audit. Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) have the qualification to represent you during audits. However, not all accountants can. Though not all businesses get audited, it is best to have someone ready in case it happens.
Hiring an accountant is an important business decision. If it is not done right, it can leave your business in a mess that may be too costly to repair. For you to adequately protect the future of your company, it is best to have your books in check and your financial records ready.
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