Q & A: What questions should I ask my accountant before I start my business?

Choosing an accountant/CPA is probably one of the most important decisions to get right, because you are unlikely to have an accountant’s grasp of

  • taxation
  • company law
  • dealing with the tax authorities
  • wide range of knowledge about small business.

You need to make sure you find an accountant/CPA who concentrates on small business and start-up business, like SOHO-, SME, SMB-, Micro-, Lifestyle-, Home-, DIY-, Hobby-, Boomer- or Personal business, like professional, contractors, freelancer, self-employed, sole-trader and virtual assistants before you make any appointments.

Another aspect is size, make sure you are not “one among millions” sort of speak, smaller accountants practices are often more in tune with your small business needs, because they are a small business too.

Here are some questions I would be asking when starting out with a new business venture:

  • Should I start my business as a sole-trader, partnership or limited liability company?
  • Can you help me to find and raise finance? (Read about bootstrapping first!)
  • Will you help me with setting up my cash-flow forecast?
  • When do I need to register for VAT (UK), GST (Australia) or when do I need to charge sales tax (US)?
  • Am I ready to start trading, or should I wait?
  • Do I need to choose my financial year and trading year end date?
  • Are you going to do my bookkeeping and accounting work?
  • Will you work online with me, so we both can be up-to-date with my business progress?
  • Will you deal with my employment issues, pensions, annuities and insurances for me?
  • Will you help me to understand more and more of these issues myself, and will you be available for advice if and when I need it?

There are many more issues to consider and they depend on your business, that is where your accountant will help you too. If you find the accountant is dealing with other businesses like yours you are in good hands, they can give you better and more realistic planning guidelines about your business venture.

The most important question is the one you need to ask yourself, “do I trust this person and can I work with him/her long term?” If you feel intimidated, or misunderstood, get up and walk. An accountant should be your advisor, he/she should never be your boss, what I mean is you need to make the final decisions, not your accountant. No matter what advice you get anywhere, you are always responsible.

Most of all your accountant should be a trusted advisor, trust me you will need his/her advice on a regular basis! ST.

Disclaimer: As with any of my readers questions, I do not have all the answers and here on my blog I can only give you some ideas, since I know very little about your small business. If any of you can add anything here do so for the benefit of my reader, who asked the question and everybody else, leave a comment below – I’d be most grateful.

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