September 19, 2022
Regardless of the size of your business, it is essential to employ a small business accountant to maintain good financial records and bookkeeping. This is not something to attempt yourself, even if you have professional training. Firstly, it will eat up too much of your time. Furthermore, you need that objective voice to make recommendations and deliver solutions you could not come up with by yourself.
Lastly, even the smallest business needs to adhere to mandatory tax and reporting requirements. Keeping on top of those schedules is exactly what a small business accountant does best, freeing you to concentrate on making your business a success.
In this article we’ll examine the reasons why finding an accountant for small business is vital.
Like any profession, the range of fees you might pay will depend upon the expertise and reputation of the individual, as well as the volume of work you pass their way. However, if you’re looking for an accountant for a small business, then there are some great value online providers.
Investopedia lists some of the more popular online Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) for small business. You can pay from as little as $125 per month to $900 or more, depending on the type of package you require and the complexity of the accounting task. If you’re being charged on an hourly rate you might expect to pay between $150 and $450 per hour.
If all you require is someone to collate your receipts, invoices and dividends and make an IRS return once per year, then your accounting costs many be minimal. Simple bookkeeping can be obtained for between $30 and $90 an hour. However, you won’t get the best CPA for a small business at that rate.
It’s worth having an accountant run through your books periodically, keeping track of expenses and invoices and monitoring other expenditures. A good small business accountant can potentially spot difficulties down the pipeline before they develop into cashflow crises.
Therefore, although it’s worth shopping around, it’s often unwise to go for a rock-bottom rate. You may end up losing money through missed opportunities or costly errors.
If you’re wondering how to find a good accountant for a small business, there is a very useful listing of some of the top-rated online CPA services for small businesses on Clutch.com.
Here are the minimum actions you need to take to establish sound small business accounting practice:
· Investigate financing options. To set up your business you may require a small business loan, grant or other third-party finance. An accountant can advise on this, but of course you may also research it yourself. When you have an accountant, they will allow for any regular repayments you’re required to make on start-up loans
· Open a business bank account and obtain a business credit card. This will separate your business’s finances from your own and make it easier when you come to analyze expenses.
· Systematize recording of expenses. Either using a receipt ledger, or online platforms for recording expenses, make sure all expenditures are recorded with the date, line item, and individual responsible for the expense.
· Create a bookkeeping system. This is your main accounting resource, where you’ll track purchase orders, invoices, material costs, capital expenditures and more. A rock bottom solution is to create one yourself using Excel. A more sophisticated system like Quickbooks is ideal, particularly when you pair it with Liveflow to create bespoke reports whenever you require them.
· Set up payroll. Once your business reaches a certain size, you’ll want to outsource this, since it requires intricacies like withholding tax to pay on behalf of employees. For outside contractors, you may need to file 1099s at year end and you’ll require names and addresses for everyone on whose behalf you file.
· Establish methods for payment. Whether you’re selling online, instore, or in person in the form of services rendered, your customers and clients will need straightforward methods for paying you. You’ll need to record checks and payments, and potentially handle third party payment providers including PayPal, Stripe and Square.
· Calculate tax burdens. Whether it’s sales tax, import tax or business income tax, you’ll need to make sure you’re setting sufficient cash aside and making those quarterly or annual returns on time. This is one of the areas where an accountant can remove a major headache.
From the above summary of what’s involved in setting up a small business, hopefully it’s clear what benefits an accountant can bring. Here are the main activities of an accountant, summarized:
· Making mandatory IRS returns, including deductions
· Pursuing invoices to protect revenue
· Keeping on top of payroll
· Recording expenses accurately
· Ensuring cashflow is healthy
· Calculating amortization of assets and loan balances
· Generating financial reports
· Protecting the bottom line
The last item on this list is the essential value of an accountant – they can give you an objective picture of how profitable your business is, when all variables (internal and external) are considered. While you have your nose to the grindstone keeping the business functioning from day to day, your accountant will tell you about opportunities you might otherwise miss and warn of potential financial threats.
The more you develop a relationship with an accountant, the better use of them you can make. As they get to know your small business intimately, a good accountant will spot problems long before you can – costs which are too high, clients who pay invoices late, deductibles you hadn’t considered. Ideally, they will return your investment in them many times over.
If you’re thinking of investing in an existing small business, you can have an accountant look over the books and assess how healthy that business is. Here are some of the key questions to ask:
1. How healthy is the balance sheet?
2. Are profit margins sufficiently generous?
3. What debt burden does the company have?
4. What directors dividends have been paid?
5. Are there risks attached to supply chain costs?
6. Are they making tax returns on time?
7. Is payroll being made in full, and on time?
8. What capital assets does the company own?
An accountant should be able to go through the books and publicly filed documents and assess the overall health of the enterprise. This could save you from making a potentially costly mistake!
One of the key aspects of maintaining a successful small business is receiving and digesting financial reports, so that you get a full and accurate picture of your company’s health.
Liveflow automates the reporting process from Quickbooks. It allows you to create a host of different reports from ready-made templates to help communicate key financial information, with just a few clicks. Why not book a demonstration today?