Ask and Receive: The Top 10 Questions to Ask Your Small Business Accountant

If you are considering to hire a professional accountant for your small business, you want one that is experienced, professional, and dedicated to serving your needs. It is important that they will be able to help streamline your finances, save you money, and reduce the chance that you will run into any issues with the IRS. The best accountants will do this by taking the time and giving the attention to understanding your business entirely. Even then, there are questions that you as a business owner should ask to make sure you understand your role and are clear about what exactly you will be getting for your investment in them. There are hundreds of questions you could ask; we’ve broken them down into ten that are of vital importance. Asking these questions of your small business accountant will be a big help in ensuring you are in good hands.

Questions about Them

Asking the right questions of your small business accountant regarding their business practices and experience can certainly help you rest easier. Allowing your business finances to be handled by an outside firm can be a bit scary, but asking the right questions can relieve any concerns you may have.

  • Question 1: What is your experience?

Make sure you understand the type of work they’ve done in the past. Ask about their track record. If you have specialized accounting needs, make sure they’ve done it before and are not learning on your dollar.

  • Question 2: Who will be managing my finances?

This is an important question because it will tell you if your accounting firm handles your finances themselves or if they use a third party. Knowing and having access to the very accountants that will be working with your finances is crucial for robust communication and excellent results.

  • Question 3: What is your philosophy regarding finances and what is your process?

Some accountants may be very conservative. Others may be more aggressive and search for every minute write-off they can find. Make sure their philosophy aligns with your own. Also, make sure you understand the process. Ask for the little details such as when and how often you will communicate and how their billing process works. The more details you know, the more probably you will find accountant best for your unique business.

Questions about You

There are also great questions you can ask your accountant that are critical to understanding your role in the process, what you need to do, and where you stand financially.

  • Question 4: What information are we required to keep what is the process for providing it to you?

7650804342_5778937d0a_oWhen it comes time for tax season, your accountant will need particular information from you. Knowing beforehand what they will need and developing a system for retention and delivery of that information can make your year-end taxes a breeze. Also, having everything organized means less work for your accountant, and that can provide significant savings.
  • Question 5: Is my business on a solid financial footing or are there areas that need work to be in a better position?

Your accountant can help you understand where you are at financially and if you are in a position to survive any possible economic downturns. That is if they have taken the time to understand fully what you do. Requesting their advice on ways to solidify your position can make or break your company in the event of something unexpected.

  • Question 6: What things should I avoid doing when working with you? Are there any common mistakes your client’s make we can avoid?

You are hiring your accountant for a service. However, part of that service should include financial advice. The number one mistake people make is not being completely forthright about your stance or financial position. Do not let the embarrassment of a messy financial process cause you to hide anything. Also, do not be afraid to ask any questions about how you can improve. Use your accountant as a financial consultant. Request their advice, take the time to consider it, and if you feel it is sound, take it.

Questions about Your Partnership

It is so important that you fully realize the value of having a stable and open relationship with your small business accountant. It all comes down to trust. Trust is something that is built over time and must be nurtured. Focusing on the partnership, understanding how it will operate, and negotiating the process is the best way to build trust that the accountant is truly on your team and focused on providing you a win.

  • Question 7: How should we contact you and how often should it occur?

If you or your accountant are unsure of the expectations of the other party, it can cause serious issues. Make sure that both parties fully know what to expect so that there are no miscommunications or misunderstandings. If you feel there are issues, address them right away in an open and honest manner to resolve them as soon as possible. It is always better to ask or address your concern than to create assumptions that may be faulty.

  • Question 8: When financial issues arise, what is your policy regarding consultations and providing advice?

If your server down, most business owners are not likely to start dismantling their system to find and fix the problem themselves. They understand that they may need to pay a professional to get them back up and running. Finances should be no different. When problems arise, it can be extremely costly to attempt to fix them yourself. Instead, consult with your small business accountant and get the professional experience they have to solve it. Not only can this eliminate major headaches and possible catastrophe, it will also allow you to focus better your time on what your business does best. It is important to understand their availability and what the charges involved will be for such advice.

  • Question 9: What do we need to consult with you about on a regular basis, and what is that process?

The right accountant will learn your business and be able to provide assistance for many different factors that may affect your bottom line. If they are professional and experienced, they will see trends or issues with particular decisions and can provide advice to save you money or increase your profits. Once again, assumptions and poor communication is a massive detriment. Ask what information you can provide them and when they should provide it, so the accountant can serve you best.

A Question to Help You Grow

Unless you are their sole client, you should understand that they work for other small businesses and likely experience or have experienced almost any financial situation that could arise. Because of this, they have the unique position of obtaining knowledge about what their most successful clients are doing, as well as what their clients who are struggling do.

  • Question 10: What are your other clients doing that help them to be more successful, or what can we avoid that you see other clients doing that lead to struggles?

Don’t be afraid to ask them if they have gained insight from their other clients and can share any advice to help you. However, you also must understand that just as you would likely not want them to be sharing any details about your financial position with other companies, their other clients do not either. Therefore, realize that the information they can provide may not be detailed, so don’t expect it to be

Landwehr Financial Solutions Can Help

The professionals at Landwehr Financial Solutions are dedicated to providing sound financial expertise to small businesses of all different kinds. Offering a wide range of services with a holistic approach, Landwehr Financial ensures that your needs are understood and well cared for. Contact us today to learn more about our services, and experience first-hand the level of care we give to all of our clients in the St. Cloud MN area.

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