If you own a business, you know that keeping track of financials and preparing your taxes is an important part of your regular tasks. However, it’s not something you should do on your own as your focus needs to be on building your business. That’s where a CPA comes in. Whether you’re in the process of choosing your first CPA or you’re ready to make a change, knowing what to look for will help you make a solid decision. Here are some tips.


Look at Their Experience

When interviewing potential CPAs, look for a person or company that has prepared financial documents and tax returns for businesses that have a similar size and revenue as you do. If you want to take that one step further, find out if they have worked with businesses in the same industry as you. This will help them better understand your business needs. Another good idea is to ask for examples of how some of their clients have grown over time and how their service changed to help them through the growth. This will tell you if they are a good fit to evolve with you as your business grows and expands.


Ask Your Network

Not sure where to start when seeking out a new CPA? Try asking your family, friends, and colleagues who own small businesses who they would recommend. Who do they work with now or who have they worked with in the past? Have they talked to others in your industry who rave about their CPA? Are there any CPAs out there who they’ve heard negative things about or who they’ve had a bad experience working with? While your needs may not be the same as those in your network, this will at least give you a good place to start and ensure you select CPAs to interview who have good reputations in the business community.


Find Someone Proactive at Saving You Money

If you’re going to work with a CPA, you want someone who will do more than manage your accounts and complete your tax return forms. The best accountants are proactive and are always trying to find ways to save you money. When you interview possible fits, ask them for examples of how they’ve helped other clients save money and what suggestions they would have for you if you decide to work with them.

Keep in mind there is a big difference between being proactive about saving you money and evading taxes. If you get any hint that a CPA isn’t playing by the rules, it’s best to move on as you will be the one paying the price if any laws are broken.


Ask About the Software They Use

If the software your company uses is not compatible with the software your accountant uses, it could lead to issues. That’s why it’s important to ask what type of software they use and how it will integrate with your own. Sending sensitive financial data back and forth is a necessity when you’re working with an accountant and you need to make sure this process is simple, reliable, and secure. If the accountant doesn’t use software that will integrate with your own, ask if they would be willing to explore other options. You can also explore changing your own software to match with theirs if you’re not 100% sold on what you currently use.


Decide What Size You Prefer

There are pluses and minuses to working with large and small CPA firms. Some business owners feel more comfortable working with small offices that have only a handful of clients while others prefer to hire large, name-brand firms with hundreds (or even thousands) of business clients. What makes you most comfortable as a business owner? Do you want to ensure you always work with a partner in a firm? Or would you rather have the support of a large staff? Deciding which size you prefer will allow you to interview only those CPAs who fit into this category.


Do Some Interviews

When you have narrowed down your list of options, it’s important to take the time to interview the firms and the actual CPA you would be working with. Not only should you check on their experience, how they plan to save you money, and what type of software they use, but you should also pay attention to how you feel around them. Do they answer your questions or talk over you? Do they seem interested in your business and goals? Is their culture a fit for your own? Do you seem to share the same values? Is communication clear and direct? This is also a good time to check references.

The CPA you choose for your business will have a big impact on your success. When you understand what you need and do your due diligence, you increase your chances of choosing a partner who will help you achieve your financial goals. Interested in seeing if Hayes & Associates is a fit for your business? Reach out to schedule a time to talk.