As a freelancer, you want to spend time doing what it is that you enjoy and making sure your clients are happy but there is more to running a business than just the work – you also need to think about all of the financial aspects.
One of the ways to help reduce your own stress would be to employ an accountant to take care of all the financial elements for you but unless you know someone already, how do you go about choosing an accountant to work with? Here is our quick guide of what to look out for when choosing an accountant.
- Do you even need an accountant?
The first thing to think about is whether you even need an accountant at the moment. If you are just starting out as a sole trader it will probably be perfectly feasible to do your books and taxes yourself, so you might want to save your money and not bother with an accountant.
If you have set up a Limited Company then you will definitely need an accountant to help you as it gets a little more complicated. Think about what you can afford and what works best for your business right now.
- What kind of accountant do you want?
If you do need an accountant then think about what kind you want and how involved you plan to be in the whole process. Are you going to do the books and hand them over, or do you want to work alongside them on everything?
You need to find someone who is happy to work in the way that you want them to and who you can trust. They need to be able to fit in with your lifestyle so if they are miles away and have short opening hours that might not work for you.
It’s also a good idea to look for an accountant who understands your particular industry needs so make sure you find someone who is experienced in the challenges which you might need them to handle for you.
- Think about what your accountant needs to know
Make sure the accountant you choose knows and understands all of the areas in which your business works, so if you have staff they need to know about payroll and contracts, or if you are in retail they need to know about VAT.
If you have any complications like selling products abroad, then you need to find an accountant who knows and understands any issues which might arise with international sales. It’s all about making sure the accountant you choose can bring value to your business and that you are working in an area they are interested in.
- Does the accountant know your accounting software?
If you are using accounting software already and the accountant doesn’t know it, then this should ring alarm bells with you. They need to be able to work with your software and use it effectively to work with you. You also need to know if they are going to do the bookkeeping or if they are planning to outsource it if they are too busy – you need to know who is working on your account at all times.
- How do they work on a day-to-day basis?
You need to have clear expectations of the kind of contact you can expect from your accountant and how available they will be if you need to get hold of them. Find out if they prefer to communicate via email, phone or face-to-face meetings and what they are happy to offer.
You don’t want to sign up with someone only to find you can never get hold of them when you have a tax crisis on your hands. You need to be comfortable with the kind of contact they can offer – if you want to be hands on you need an accountant who will be happy with a lot of contact from you.
- Make sure they know their own industry
Make sure they are aware of any changes happening in the wider accounting industry which could impact on your business and are able to advise you accordingly. Issues connected with Brexit, for example currently, could have an impact in the future so you need to make sure your accountant is up to speed with modern business issues.
Choosing an accountant is a really important decision to be made by any freelancer as if you get the right person they could bring enormous value to your business and help to make your life much easier in the long run.
It’s vital to take your time and look for a good fit with your accountant as you will be working closely with them and they will be supporting your business through good times and bad potentially.