Choosing the right accountant can be like choosing a new business partner. Ideally, they may become a trusted colleague who gives you the best advice and guidance on growing your small business. This guide will let you in on all the reasons why hiring an accountant might be the right decision for you, how to find a good accountant for your small business and the difference between bookkeeping and accountancy.
Why do you need an accountant?
Whether you’re just starting your small business or finding yourself in need of some expert help, hiring an accountant may be a worthwhile investment at any stage of your journey. According to Accountancy Age, the average small business spends a whopping 15 hours per week sorting out financial admin tasks, and chances are, you didn’t start your small business just to spend valuable hours sorting out your finances.
An accountant could take on all the financial work you may not find particularly inspiring, from drawing up a business plan and suggesting new working structures, to getting hands on with the payroll, cashflow and taxes. By clearing these tasks off your plate, you may find yourself with more time to do what you do best.
What does an accountant do for a small business?
Accountants may do more than you first think – it’s not only business taxes and compliance work. Some can also be excellent trouble shooters and strategic advisors. Here are just a few of the potentially surprising ways an accountant might be able to help you up your business game.
- Listen and support you. A good accountant may be able to help you with a number of problems or questions you have regarding your business, from tax issues to cash flow queries.
- Deal with unpaid invoices. An accountant can set up invoice systems that send automatic reminders, and even arrange solutions like debt financing if you ever encounter unpaid invoices.
- Offer general financial guidance. Although your accountant can’t tell you how to spend your money, they may be able to make you aware of areas in your business that could pose a potential risk in the future, or areas where you might be able to be more flexible with your finances, potentially helping your business to grow sustainably.
- Assist with setting up new employees. Believe it or not, your accountant may also be able to help with your human resources. They may be able to help you figure out what kind of hire you need (and can afford), the cost of hiring, training, and paying an employee, as well as setting up payroll, tax, and insurance requirements.
- Make your business more efficient. Your accountant may be able to automate a lot of things you might be used to doing manually, like staff scheduling, time recording, point of sale, taking payments, customer relationship management, invoicing and payroll.
What does a bookkeeper do vs. an accountant?
A bookkeeper’s role is not dissimilar to an accountant’s. But it’s generally more concerned with recording all of your business’s transactions and making sure you’re financially organised. Accountants, however, may provide a wide range of services, like consultations, analysis and may be qualified to advise you on matters like tax, but you should always do your research into what services they can provide.
How do you find an accountant?
Once you’ve decided to hire an accountant, the next step is choosing the right one. So, how do you find an accountant if you’re self-employed or a small business?
- Look for certified chartered accountants. You can’t put a price on peace of mind. So you may wish to choose an accountant who is regulated by a professional body or recognised by the government. This could be a Certified Public Accountant, Chartered Accountant , a member of the Association of International Accountants , or a member of the Institute of Financial Accountants.
- Use word of mouth. You’ll always have Google, but you often can’t beat a good recommendation. Ask friends and family who run small businesses who they use. You could also reach out and ask people in the same industry as you if they have any names they could pass on.
- Interview candidates before deciding. Take your time to research and interview candidates, perform background checks and listen to your gut to make sure you make the best decision possible for your business.
- Check your budget. Make sure you factor in how much an accountant may cost your small business. According to GoForma, limited company accountants normally charge a monthly fee, which can be anywhere between £65 – £200.
Are there any alternatives to hiring an accountant?
Perhaps hiring an accountant just isn’t the right move for you and your business right now. But there are a number of alternatives out there. If you don’t need to employ someone full-time, you could hire a freelance accountant to give you a hand with specific tasks or get some simple bookkeeping help.
Alternatively, you could learn how to use accounting software like Xero, FreeAgent, Quickbooks or Sage (although there are a number of other providers available). Doing so could be made even easier by linking your chosen accounting software with Tyl (fees and eligibility criteria apply), allowing you to automatically post your sales, chargebacks, and fees data to your chosen package.
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This has been prepared by Tyl by NatWest for informational purposes only and should not be treated as advice or a recommendation. There may be other considerations relevant to you and your business so you should undertake your own independent research.
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