As outlined beautifully in the book ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’, a good businessman needs good advisors. One of them will be a good, professionally certified accountant. When someone is starting a business, you will most likely not need a full time accountant. Also not sure if a good accountant, well versed in the skills and practices would join a new business. So most likely you will lean on finding a professional accountant. Most of them have an advanced professional degree.
A degree, however, does not mean that person is competent. Accounting, first and foremost, needs an attitude. If the person is not good with organizing systems definition and compliance, he, in my opinion, cannot be a good accountant. The person should also endeavor to do accounts to ensure the fall benefits from tax and statutory authorities that are available within law.
An accountant for a startup can play a key role in ensuring compliance with financial laws. In this role, he can advise the client on implications. By ensuring proper filing of forms, adequate record keeping and storing of transactions, they play a key role in helping the owners focus on the business, i.e. find and keep customers.
Well kept records and financials help the business person from getting overly involved in the highly time consuming accounting process. Also, various statutory organizations require reports, data and impose submission of forms. A good accountant can help take this load of the business man. This may look trivial, but bear in mind that the first year or two in business means a lot of work and sleep deprivation. Studies have shown that the setup years of a new business is equal to having new born child in the family.
By now you know how accountants can help take the routine but important activities of your plate. However, finding a good accountant is not easy. The following will help you –
- They should be competent in tax and accounting laws.
- Most accounts work involves repetitive tasks. They should know how to create systems and processes so that work can happen accurately and quickly.
- They should be very detailed oriented. That is why they are called bean counters.
- Beware of accountants who are very salesy. In general it is very difficult to be both salesy and detailed oriented.
- They should know the implications of treating transactions in a certain way. A good accountant will help save taxes by recording transactions properly (within laws) to get your business the benefits that are due to you.
- They should, above all, know what matters are strictly enforced by statutory organizations and authorities and make sure you follow them.
Most good accountants have modest but well maintained offices. They are not shabby and they are not fancy. They have staff that is disciplined and follow procedures. Good accountants are well organized and will understand the value of your time and handle things quickly and efficiently.
I was motivated to write this note after seeing a very unpleasant experience faced by a close friend while dealing with an unprofessional chartered accountant in India. That experience motivated me to write this article. Hope you find this useful and you have good luck in finding an accountant who lets you focus on building your business.