Whether you are a small business owner or new entrepreneur, deciding whether or not you should handle your own business finances can be challenging. In the SCORE Small Business Success Podcast, “Finance and Accounting Tips for Your Business,” SCORE mentor Hal Shelton offers his advice: "Go for your dream. Unless you are an accountant starting up an accounting practice or financial service practice, it's unlikely that accounting is going to be your thing." A long-time mentor of over 1,000 businesses, he says it’s important to stick to your strengths and spend your extra time doing something that adds value and potentially cash flow to your business.

Shelton shares tips along with questions you should ask when looking for the right accountant or bookkeeper for your business.

Know Who They Are

When it comes to choosing the right accountant, asking specific questions is very important. Taking time out to understand who your future accountant is and their strengths will be beneficial for your business in the long run. For example, "Do you know my industry?" No matter what industry you are in: retail, consulting, healthcare or any others, it's important to know if the accountant has specifically worked in that industry. Asking if they have clients in that particular industry and if they are up-to-date with industry practices and trends are great ways to gauge their knowledge and experience.

Find Out Their Fees

During your first meeting, be sure to ask what their fees are and how are they calculated.  Find out if you are allowed a certain amount of hours/minutes quarterly or monthly to ask questions.  Some accountants my charge during the first meeting. Understanding their fees in the beginning will help you determine if the amount of time they have to offer coincides with your business goals.

Know What You Want

Before contacting an accountant, decide how you plan to use their services. Will they help you with payroll, tax returns, data processing or any other functions? Do your homework and find out if they have good references as well. Understanding what you want, who they are, and what they can offer plays a huge role in the success of your business.

Want to learn more finance and accounting tips for your business? Listen to the full podcast of “Finance and Accounting Tips for Your Business.” Interested in learning more finance tips for your small business? Check out SCORE's Finance & Money resources page!

About the Author(s)

Bridget Weston Pollack

Bridget Weston Pollack is the Vice President of Marketing & Communications at the SCORE Association.

Vice President of Marketing & Communications, SCORE

Key Topics

Small Business Accountant