Choosing the right CPA for your business

Dustin Johnson
By Dustin Johnson

Chances are you started your business because you had a passion for it. Hair salon owners love staying up to date on the latest hairstyle trends. Dog walkers love dogs. Sailmakers love sailboats. One common denominator that most small business owners share is that they don’t love the pesky details of managing a business, some of which they didn’t anticipate when they first had the idea of striking out on their own and making their passion their living. Chief among these are the financial tasks like bookkeeping and tax prep. When those start detracting from the time you have to dedicated to your business, you might need to call in a professional to manage the account. The first place to start names of potential CPAs is your network, particularly if you network with other small business owners cite to grow your business, it may be time to put together a team of professionals to handle those for you. But how do you find someone to trust with this important aspect of your business?

Tap your network

The first place to start names of potential CPAs is your network. This is a good idea especially if you spend time with other small business owners.  Ask for the name of the CPAs they work with. Get a sense of not just whether the person recommends them, but also if their description of the CPA’s core skills matches what you’re looking for. If you’re unsure of what deductions are right for your business, for example, inquire if they’re good at guiding clients through that process. 

Search professional directories

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants maintains a directory you can browse by several factors, including proximity to your location. Search by specializations and other criteria to narrow down your list of potential CPAs to interview. Then do the due diligence on your shortlist to make sure their online reviews are good. After you’re satisfied you’ve narrowed it down to a few good candidates, reach out to schedule a phone call or an in-person meeting, and have a list of questions ready to make your interview fruitful. Basic questions may include ones about how they prefer to work, how you can get information about your deductions and income to them promptly at tax time. Do they accept spreadsheets electronically, or do they prefer paper? Prepare a few broader, big-picture questions, like how they see their role in helping you grow your business. 

Inquire in industry forum

If you are in a unique industry, you may benefit from a CPA who is an expert in your specific type of business. If your industry has special taxation or licensing requirements, a CPA with expertise in the field may help smooth the tax and money management process for you. One good way to find that type of CPA is to network with others in your industry and spend time on industry-specific forums or professional associations. When you do get a few recommendations for CPAs who know your industry, do your due diligence like you would on any professional recommendation. Be sure their online reviews are good and that there aren’t any red flags in their search results. 

When you decide it’s time for a CPA, remember that ComplYant is a great complement to your CPA. Our platform allows you to manage your small-business taxes in one dashboard. Keep on top of tax deadlines with less stress and confusion, and work hand-in-hand with your CPA to stay on top of all your small business tax filings. 

Dustin Johnson
By Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson is a Senior Tax Research Specialist at ComplYant. Prior to joining ComplYant, he spent over eleven years performing tax research at the world’s largest tax preparation company. Dustin holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Juris Doctor. Outside of work, Dustin enjoys biking and spending time with his family.

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