Money management is super personal. Entrust your accounting to a professional who is knowledgeable, experienced, and whose personality is a good fit with yours. An accountant is a person whose profession is inspecting and auditing accounts; think data analysis. A certified public accountant (CPA) is licensed by a state examining board as having fulfilled the requirements of state law; these professionals are required to uphold a code of ethics and conduct. They are also required to meet state specific educational requirements. If you choose to work with an accountant that is not a CPA ask questions to learn how they remain current on rules and regulations.
CPAs are generalists. However, many choose to work with a specific type of client, within a specific industry, business size, or stage of growth. C Corporations have a different tax structure than Partnerships. Non-profit organizations have different reporting requirements from sole proprietors. Consult with a lawyer to choose the best legal structure for your business and select an accountant that specializes in that type of structure. Ask questions to find a professional that is familiar with the opportunities and challenges that your business is currently facing. There are not separate rules for recording financial transactions as a start up versus a business that has been around for 30 years; architects follow the same financial reporting rules as photographers. However, the decision making may be different depending on your industry or time in business, and I encourage you to choose a professional that understands your financial position.
Clearly state your expectations and the desired outcome for your partnership with an accounting professional. Are you looking for tax preparation only? Do you want to drop off a box of receipts and move on to their next task allowing the accountant to handle recording and reporting all the transactions? Would you prefer to sit and share the challenges that you have in business and work together to problem solve and make better financial decisions? Have conversations before you engage a professional to be sure that their personality and communication style will work well with yours and that they can meet your expectations.
Be sure to check out the video from my Instagram LIVE post earlier this week!