5 Tips for How to Choose the Best Accounting Firms for You

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You picked your team. You developed your product.

You launched your company. And today, business is booming.

So much so that between your staff, your customers, and the day-to-day grind, keeping up with your spreadsheets and your financial statements is quickly becoming a drain on your internal resources.

If any of that sounds familiar, it could be time for you to start putting together a shortlist of the best accounting firms in your area. How do you find these top accounting firms? Is there a quick and efficient way for you to parse through all the companies that offer accounting services and go straight to the gems?

The “right” accounting firm for your business will depend on a number of factors, like cultural fit, the size of your business, and your industry. But with the help of our inside tips, finding a fantastic accounting firm is more than possible. Keep reading to learn more.

Why Should You Hire an Accounting Firm?

Hiring a dedicated professional to manage your financial accounting is a task that business owners are told that they should do. But is it actually a good idea for your business? By our count, there are at least three powerful benefits to hiring public accounting firms to do the heavy lifting for your books:

1. You Can Stay on the Right Side of the Law

In 2013, business forked out over $7 billion to the IRS as a result of accounting errors. Ouch!

And if we’ve learned nothing else from the United States Government, it’s that the IRS is one of the last government agencies that you want to be on bad terms with. But the thing about business taxes is that you have to be on your financial A-game as you do them.

One mistake in the books can come back to bite you in a big way later on.

Hiring an accounting firm can ensure that you’re in compliance with the expectations of the government as well as your industry.

2. You Can Learn More About Your Company Finances

In a world where voice-activated searches and AI aren’t just the stuff of science fiction, finding information is as simple as asking Siri a question.

When you need financial insights that go beyond “How much money did we make today?” gathering and arranging the data can be time-consuming, tedious, and a classic example of all the reasons why business owners are always being told to protect their time.

An accountant makes it easier to glean insights into your company’s finances. If you need to understand the general trends, data, and potential obstacles that could make it difficult to finance that second location, you can get unbiased and objective information from an experienced accounting firm.

3. You Can Make Business Loans Easier to Access

A major part of the reason why many people never become business owners is the simple fact that running a company requires money. Depending on your industry, you may even need a substantial amount of startup capital to make things work.

However, banks don’t want to loan money to business owners who may not be able to pay them back in a timely fashion. And because every company founder has a revolutionary idea or a passion for their business, separating the financially viable companies from the financially strapped ones, isn’t easy for a loan officer to do.

Respected accounting firms will be able to review your books, do their assessments, and say, “Yep, this business really is making this much revenue.” And if you ever need to secure a line of credit or a loan in the future, those attestation services can make a world of difference to your lender.

Our Top Tips for Hiring the Best Accounting Firms

At this stage, we’ve highlighted all the reasons why working with an awesome accountant can simplify your life as a business owner. But none of that tells you whether or not you’re making the right decision when you go through lists of accounting firm rankings and pick a group to email. Here are five ways that you can put yourself in a position to pull off a successful accounting search:

1. Look for Relevant Business Experience

Psychiatrists and trauma surgeons may all have MDs. But when you’ve just been involved in a car accident and you’ve got a few bones and a spleen that you need someone to stitch back together, chances are that you’ll choose to see the surgeon 10 out of 10 times.

Believe it or not, you’re in a similar situation when you’re choosing an accounting firm.

Depending on your industry, you may have tons of compliance concerns and regulations that you have to keep track of. And even if you’re not operating in a highly specialized area, small businesses usually don’t have the same financial concerns and worries that plague multinational, publicly traded corporations.

If you want to ensure that you’re working with an accounting firm that fundamentally “gets you”, it pays to look for a company with an established clientele that makes you think, “Hey! Those guys look like me!”.

2. Make the CPA Designation Your Top Priority

There are accounting firms. And then there are public accounting firms. At first glance, it might seem like the whole “accountant” and “CPA” designation is just another distinction that doesn’t really matter all that much to your business.

But the truth is that a Certified Public Accounting Firm can do a lot more for your company’s finances. For starters, CPAs have undergone testing and licensing in order to receive their designations. And for another, if you need a financial professional who is obligated to look out for your interests and who can provide attestation and tax preparation advice, a CPA can do all of those tasks for you.

A CPA is a subject matter expert. If you want tax advice and accounting that’s done to a higher standard, then this is the designation you want to see.

3. Find Out What Your Network Has to Say

According to SEMRush, word-of-mouth marketing drives an estimated average $6 trillion in spending each year. On a personal level, that makes sense, doesn’t it? When you’re watching a commercial or seeing testimonials online, you can’t always get a sense of whether or not you’re dealing with actors who will say whatever they’re paid to say.

But when you’ve got someone you know telling you all about how this awesome accounting firm saved them a small fortune in taxes last year, you have to give that a little more weight.

Do you know any other business owners in your area? Have you noticed that many of the folks in your industry are gravitating towards a select few firms? You may be able to find the right accountants simply by taking the time to go through your contact list while asking a few pointed questions.

4. Shop Around

Whether you’re taking out insurance or you’re buying a new pair of jeans, the standard advice people always give is to “Explore your options and shop around.” Accounting firms are no different.

It’s possible to link up with a firm that’s staffed from top to bottom with amazing accountants and equally incredible bookkeepers, only for the vibe of your professional relationship to be a little subpar.

And even if you’re 99.99 percent sure that the firm you were just talking to is going to be your top pick, talking to a few different firms can help you set reasonable expectations about what you’d like to see from the accounting firm you hire.

5. Consider the Size of the Firm

In business, a lot of people like to forge connections for clout.

“I work with the same manufacturer that has partnered with BMW.”

“My lawyer is well-known for working with all the major tech companies and startups.”

“This consultant has worked with nearly everyone in the S&P 500 and then some.”

But while there’s something to be said for the expertise and skill demonstrated by a major, enterprise-level accounting firm, there’s also the very real risk that the concerns of your small business might not be a high priority if something goes wrong with a bigger client.

While you don’t necessarily want your company to be a guinea pig, it’s also easy to get lost in the shuffle when you’re a drop in the ocean to your firm. Only you can decide what’s right for your business, but depending on the complexity and the level of involvement you’re looking for, a smaller or medium-sized accounting firm may be more your speed.

Find the Best Accounting Firms in Your Sleep

When words like “accounting” and “financial statements” are being thrown around, businesses can be all too easily bamboozled by the fancy words and jargon being thrown around. And because the best accounting firms for your circumstances will often depend on fit, finding the firm that gives you “Yes, this is what I’m looking for!” can kind of make you feel like you’re looking for a needle in a haystack.

However, when you have a clear understanding of what you need from your accounting firm and an equally solid sense of how professional accounting services can work within your long-term ambitions, finding the right accounting firm isn’t just a possibility, it’s an inevitability.

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