How to Choose a CPA for a Small Business

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Pembrook Nelson
Pembrook Nelson
March 24, 2020
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Accounting & Finance

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UPDATED:
April 1, 2020

When it comes to your small business, you should be taking every advantage to help you succeed. You’ve invested a lot of time and effort into your endeavor, and you should be doing what you can to ensure that your business continues to grow and makes more money. To help with this task, you might consider hiring a CPA. Naturally, this will lead you to wonder: how to choose a CPA for a small business.

‍The Role of a CPA‍

CPA stands for “certified public accountant,” and what they do is different from what a regular accountant or tax preparer does. To become a CPA, they have to earn a high-level certification, which requires taking exams, having practice experience, obtaining a license, and being educated in topics that include tax law to ethics. A CPA must also take annual continuing education courses to maintain their license and remain up to date on changing tax laws.

Tax forms

While it’s possible that a tax preparer or regular accountant can assist your small business when it comes to filing tax returns, they can’t provide you with strategic financial direction for your business. That’s where a CPA comes into play. They can give you invaluable guidance on things such as whether or not you should buy or lease your office or building, how to secure financing to grow your business, whether it is more advantageous to purchase or lease equipment, and more.

Tax forms

Some of the other things that a CPA can assist your small business with includes the following:

  1. Helping with all tax matters, including representing clients before the IRS
  2. Conducting financial audits and other assurance services that, by law, can’t be performed by non-certified accountants or tax preparers
  3. Ensuring that your bookkeeping program is accurate and well-organized
  4. Ensuring that you understand your company’s financial statements and how to use them
  5. Developing longstanding relationships and suggesting strategies for business financials that can help your small business grow and succeed

Hiring a CPA for your small business will be more expensive than working with a tax preparer or regular accountant. However, you get what you pay for, and the advice and services a CPA offers is well worth the investment.

How to Choose a CPA for a Small Business‍

When it comes to finding the right CPA for your small business, there are some steps that you’ll need to take. These are listed below.

Step 1: Start Your Search and Make a List

The first thing you’ll need to do when looking for a CPA for your small business is to start a search and make a list. Most people start looking for professionals online, and this is probably the most accessible place to begin. Some of the places you can check online for a trustworthy CPA include:

  • The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
  • CPAdirectory.com
  • The IRS Directory

However, you might also consider talking to friends and family. You can see if they’ve worked with a CPA in the past. You can also ask your fellow small business owners if they use or can recommend anyone. Once you find or get a name, make sure to add it to your list.

Step 2: Check Out Their Websites

Once you have some names added to your list, then you’ll want to get online and head to their websites. Some of the things you’ll want to look for when visiting their site include the following:

Credentials

A CPA can hold many different credentials, including a CPA, CMA (certified management accountant), or a CFE (certified fraud examiner). You’ll want to ensure that you get a CPA who can help you with your business wants and needs. This is also a good time to double-check and ensure that their license is up to date.

Services Offered

CPA explaining finances to the customer

CPAs may offer a variety of different types of accounting services, or they may only focus on a select few. To ensure you are getting someone who can help make your small business a success, you’ll want to check out what services they offer and make sure they align with what you’re looking for.

Location

Unless you specifically searched for a CPA in your local community, it’s possible that some of the people on your list could be from another location. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you’ll need to ask yourself if you’re willing to work with someone who may not be in the same state. This could make it challenging to get a hold of them—or it might not.

If you find that you don’t want to work with someone who isn’t local, then cross those people off your list. This will help you narrow down your options.

Step 3: Read Their Reviews‍

While you are online looking at their websites, this is also an excellent time to check out the CPA’s online reviews. You should find a mix of positive, negative, and neutral reviews on their website and other review sites, including Google, Facebook, and others. No one can make everyone happy, so don’t take negative reviews as a sign that the CPA is terrible; although, they should have more positive reviews than negative ones.

This is also an excellent time to check out the BBB site to see if the CPA has had any complaints filed against them. You can also look at the AICPA site. This is so you can see if there have been any problems with the CPA in the past. If there has, and you don’t trust that they have changed their ways, cross them off your list.

‍Step 4: Make Some Phone Calls

Once you have narrowed your list down, you can then make some phone calls to potential CPAs. This is an excellent opportunity to see how professional and courteous they are over the phone. It’s a good idea to schedule a face-to-face interview, as this will give you an idea of how comfortable the CPA makes you and if you’ll be able to get along.

Some of the questions you’ll want to ask include:

How long have you been a CPA?

In general, you want someone with at least two years of experience, if not more.

Are you available year-round?

It’s possible that issues can come up at any time throughout the year. If you have questions or concerns about small business accounting, being able to get ahold of your CPA can help.

How much do you charge?

Your budget is a huge consideration when it comes to hiring a CPA for your small business. This question is not out of line, and it will help you find the CPA that will fulfill your financial wants and needs, as well as fit within your budget.

Step 5: Make a Decision

After you have interviewed a few CPAs for the position, it’s then time to make a decision. While your budget will have a say in who you hire, keep in mind that you should also feel comfortable working with the individual. This is your business, and making it a success means partnering with a CPA who will do what they can to help you succeed.

Hiring a CPA after an interview

Finding the Right CPA

When it comes to finding the right CPA for your small business, you don’t want to rush the process, so take your time and do your research. You want to work with someone who will help your business succeed, and that will require some time and effort.

If your business information isn’t correctly listed in this business directory, you should consider updating it so potential customers can find you.

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