Running a small business can be rewarding, but it can also be challenging. No startup owner is great at everything, so they’ll need a support system that can help them manage portions of their business. If finances aren’t your strong suit, you can hire a CPA to remain compliant.
But, you can’t just pick an accountant’s name out of a hat; you have to make a conscious decision of who you’ll trust with your payroll, bookkeeping, taxation, and regulatory reporting.
3 Ways to Find the Right CPA for Your Startup
The right CPA isn’t just an accountant; they’re a person who actively supports your business and helps you scale. With that in mind, here are 3 factors you can use to find an accountant.
1. Check Their Accounting Qualifications
Becoming a CPA is no easy task, and that’s clear when you look at state CPA test requirements. Although requirements vary across states, most test takers must complete a bachelor’s degree in a related field (finance or business) and 150 college credit hours (30 more than a bachelor’s).
Since 150 credit hours is necessary to write the CPA test, most students will go for a masters’ degree because it improves their hiring potential and furthers their knowledge in their field.
To take the test, accountants don’t have to have any relevant work experience, but they must get said experience after the fact to get their license. This practically guarantees that your CPA will come from a solid financial background, but they may not have direct startup experience.
Any CPA you hire should have prior experience working with startups and developing business strategies to be considered. Check if they’re able to scale companies with minimal cash flow.
2. Look Up Reviews, Testimonials, and Referrals
Since all CPAs have to have work experience to get their license, they have to have references or testimonials from other businesses. If they don’t have any reviews, their reviews are mostly negative, or they refuse to offer references what you ask, pass them up for someone else.
Some agencies will hire out their CPAs to other companies, while some professionals will go into business for themselves. A company or individual that doesn’t utilize reviews has bad business sense because they should know how important they are for social proof.
However, if your CPA of choice has mostly positive reviews and testimonials, look into them further. If, for some reason, you’ve been having a hard time finding an accountant online, ask other business owners for referrals. They may be able to point you in the right direction.
3. Find Someone You Like But Be Selective
Your accountant should always meet the basic requirements for the job first, but if you don’t like them, you’ll both have a hard time working efficiently. You should be immediately comfortable with your prospective accountants and have a desire to build a business relationship with them.
When you’re asking the accountant questions about their experience and availability, try to add in some casual conversation. Unfortunately, some CPAs won’t let their true personalities shine until you encourage them to do so. They’d rather play it safe and act professionally at all times.
It’s better to connect with the accountant face-to-face once you’re happy with their credentials, as it’s the fastest way to judge someone based on their personality and general likability.
We recommend bringing another person along to the meeting whose judgment you trust. It’s not always easy to read between the lines once you’re convinced they’re a good fit. But the wrong hire can cost your company a lot of money, so trust your own gut or someone else’s.