Most small businesses have a small team of talent running the show. As such, it’s not uncommon for some team members to occasionally handle aspects of the business that are separate from their individual skillset or job description. But this “all hands on deck” mentality is what makes starting a small business so exciting!
This is also why, when it comes to expanding the team by adding a bookkeeper, CPA, or some other number cruncher, most SMB owners will always try and find someone with a versatile set of skills. Besides this, the ideal candidate should have some experience in the business’s specific industry.
But, given that ideal is not always easy to find, a lack of experience can easily be compensated for if the said candidate has an interest in the niche and enthusiasm toward learning more about it. After all, it’s best to attract team members who are going to grow with your business than experienced professionals who can’t wait to jump ship to the next company!
We had a chat with several SMB owners and experienced tax professionals and gathered several tips and tricks when it comes to the hiring process. So, if you think it’s time to hire a CPA for your business but feel a bit confused about how to find the perfect fit, take a look at our tips below.
How do you know it’s time to hire a bookkeeper, accountant, or CPA?
Good practice dictates that a business, regardless of size, should have a professional bookkeeper from the very beginning.
Still, many startup owners would rather take things into their hands, at least at the beginning. As the business grows and work starts to pile up, you may not have the time and energy to keep up with both the business and administering the finances. So, there will come a time when you have to relinquish control of your business’s financial future towards a professional.
Now, as long as things are tough and you are running on a skeleton crew, you can postpone hiring a professional accountant, bookkeeper, or CPA until you start to see serious growth.
But the moment your business starts generating a lot more sales with more predicted in the near future, or if you’re planning on expanding into a new marketplace, the best thing you can do is hire a professional.
Failing to invest in a good bean counter at this stage could cause you to miss out on additional profits in the best-case scenario and lead to disastrous fines and legislation in the worst case.
Quick tip: If you can’t find a suitable candidate that fits your needs, you may want to train one of your current employees you know and trust. Qualifications such as the CPA are relatively affordable (check CPA review courses for more info), so you can decide which one is best for your particular circumstances.
Questions to ask when hiring a professional
While there are many specialists in this field, it can be difficult to find someone who is a good fit for your business. As such, it helps to have a list of questions to ask, to filter out the candidates.
Our advice is to start with this one: “What motivated you to apply for this position?”
If they say “money,” then congratulate them for their honesty. If you think that you can incentivize this kind of employee to stay with your business, instead of getting poached by a competitor a few years down the line, this might be the accountant or bookkeeper best suited for your team.
However, if you honestly don’t see your business being successful enough in the near future to avoid this scenario, consider passing on that candidate.
If the candidate answers your question about motivation with something else, ask them why they didn’t say they were motivated by money.
If they give you the honest impression that they share your passion, that they identify with the core philosophy of your business, or that they want to learn from the experience, you’re likely to have found the best kind of employee a small business can hire.
Big red flags to look for
When researching a candidate’s skills or the software in which they’re proficient, it isn’t a bad thing if they have some unconventional talents. However, you want to avoid bringing on candidates that tend to approach their field with unconventional means and have no experience with traditional tools and practices.
For instance, everyone knows that Quickbooks isn’t the end-all-be-all when it comes to accounting, but you don’t want to hire an accountant who has no idea how to use it in the first place.
A lot of candidates with an overtly unconventional approach to their trade tend to have an inflated opinion of themselves. This person might see themselves as the next Elon Musk or Steve Jobs: some radical genius who can send a shock through the industry and turn it on its head.
These types of employees are never worth the effort of hiring and training because they almost always have horrible ego problems and an inability to function well as a team.
In the best-case scenario that they actually have the talent to back up their contrarian work style, you’ll have to fight tooth and nail to keep them from leaving your company for greener pastures if they get bored.
Overall, a good bookkeeper or accounting professional, that fits with your business and can mold to the way you work is an incredibly valuable asset. So, if you feel it’s time to hire one, take the time and resources to find the best fit.
Written by: ECONOTIMES