Skills to Become a Small Business CPA
Are you thinking of hiring a CPA to handle your small business’ bookkeeping and tax needs? There are a lot of factors that go into choosing the perfect candidate, but some skills really stick out. As many entrepreneurs may know, it’s not always easy to find the time to take care of financial matters. But it is vital to do so.
After all, your financial well-being and that of your company are closely linked. To ensure you’re getting the most out of your business, it’s important to go with an accounting professional you can trust. The CPA is the only accountant many small businesses will ever work with, so it’s important to find one that works well.
While plenty of CPAs are effective, even outstanding in their role, not all are necessarily best suited for small business owners. Before hiring an accountant, you should get a handle on what skills make for an excellent CPA for a small business, and then consider the character of your prospective hire.
So, what skills make an excellent CPA for a small business? Many skills make an excellent CPA for a small business owner to have, including being able to communicate financial information and explain it in layman’s terms, understanding the tax implications for different clients and knowing how to minimize tax liability, utilizing the latest financial technology to streamline business operations, understanding the importance of teamwork when working with partners and business owners.
Specifically, I will walk you through the different skills needed for a CPA of a small business: successful, an expert in their line of work, problem-solver, proficient communicator, problem solver, management experience, keeping up to date with laws and regulations, strong leader, excellent planner, tech-savvy, trustworthy, interpersonal, team player, organized and professional.
Top Qualities In a CPA for Your Small Business
Many consulting firms have multiple accountants with different qualifications working together to provide full service services. On any given day, they may be working on financial statement audits, personal tax returns or addressing the needs of partners who are looking to sell their ownership interest in the company.
Depending on the size of the firm, these professionals may specialize in a particular area or provide services for all areas of financial consulting. What are the skills that are most valuable when working with small business owners?
While some accountants have more experience than others, there are several key factors to consider when choosing what type of CPA you’ll work with. Is reputation important? What types of skills are most beneficial?
In a small firm, the individual accountants have to be able to handle any task thrown their way. As such, it’s important for them to spend time working with a variety of clients so they can become familiar with their specific needs.
In addition, CPA firms that provide small business audits need to have a network that includes other professionals such as lawyers and business brokers so they can be readily available.
The best CPAs for small businesses have personal histories of success or achievement in other areas. This is because they understand the pressures that you’re under in your business. They know what it means to juggle several tasks, meet important deadlines and still have family time or other responsibilities.
Experts In Field
The best CPAs for small businesses are also experts in their fields. They understand the ever-changing rules governing accounting practices, tax codes, finance operations, and financial management tools. And if they don’t know how to fix something, they can learn.
The best CPAs for small businesses are proactive problem solvers. They find resolutions that protect your business’s interests and create solutions that reduce costs or increase profits. Tax codes are extremely complicated, so it is important to use a CPA who can not only navigate through the system, but also build your business to take advantage of tax benefits wherever possible.
The best CPAs for small businesses are proficient communicators and able to work well with clients. It is important that you can get in touch with your CPA at any time without deadlines hanging over your head.
Communication isn’t just about talking – it’s also about listening. And the best CPAs for small businesses will listen to your specific needs, explain everything in a straightforward manner and be a trusted advisor you can lean on when times get tough. The best CPAs for small businesses are also excellent communicators.
This means that they can explain issues in a clear, concise way so that you understand all the implications of any decision. It’s important to remember that the CPA you hire is your partner and not just an adviser. The best CPAs for small businesses will treat you like a client, not “just another business”. The best CPAs for small businesses are able to communicate with all levels of management and workers in the organization.
This means that they can speak the same language as other staff members, understand different points of view, adapt easily to different situations and promote professionalism at your company. The ability to communicate a message in a clear and concise manner is a skill that many employers look for.
The ability to synthesize information into a strong conclusion or recommendation requires good communication skills, no matter the subject matter. Whether it’s explaining why certain auditing procedures are important or how you arrived at project numbers in financial statements, demonstrating the skill of clear communication is a trait many employers look for.
The best CPAs for small businesses have strong problem solving skills and an ability to make tough decisions quickly. When problems arise, the CPA you choose should be able to act on your behalf as a representative of your business. This means that they will take into account both the immediate and long-term goals of your business before acting.
With so many businesses up against the ropes from the economic downturn, good problem solvers are hard to find. No matter which team you’re on, clients are looking for people who can come up with practical solutions to their problems. This might mean generating reports more quickly, finding ways to save costs or expanding where spending is being made.
A new associate who can present creative ideas will always be sought after by management.
The best CPAs for small businesses have management skills and can supervise staff members if needed. If you’re looking for short-term help during an especially busy season, a CPA who can manage and delegate tasks to other workers will be invaluable.
The best CPAs for small businesses also have the ability to negotiate pricing with suppliers and other vendors on your behalf.
Stay Up to Date
The best CPAs for small businesses keep up-to-date on changing regulations and know how to leverage your business for tax benefits. Their expertise will allow you to focus on growing your company instead of staying up-to-date on complex rules and regulations.
The best CPAs for small businesses have strong leadership and motivational skills. This means that they can guide your company in the right direction, even when you’re unsure of where to go. They can be your champion when it comes to achieving goals and making plans.
While most CPA firms will expect their new associates to show strong leadership skills, there are some who are looking for someone to take hold of the reins rather quickly. Whether it’s working on high-profile engagements or being asked to present ideas at meetings, a CPA with strong leadership abilities can often see their careers skyrocket.
The best CPAs for small businesses have excellent planning skills, are detail-oriented, and know how to work under pressure. It is important that you choose a CPA who stays calm in sticky situations and can help you avoid mistakes. A CPA who doesn’t make obvious errors is less likely to make costly mistakes down the line.
The best CPAs for small businesses are technology-savvy and understand how business operates in the modern age. They will know which technologies are useful for your business, how much it costs to implement them, and how to modify and use them in the most effective way.
Technology changes rapidly. The best CPAs for small businesses will always prepare to keep up with the latest innovations. Accounting has gone digital in the past few years, and if your accountant isn’t using computers to manage their work they’ll likely soon be behind the times.
Not only should you look for somebody who can use a computer proficiently (and we don’t mean just bookkeeping software), but somebody who is comfortable working with online financial systems.
The best CPAs for small businesses are trustworthy and find solutions that work for you. Although your CPA is an expert on the economic, financial and tax situations of businesses like yours, you should always be in control of your company’s direction.
Your CPA doesn’t know your business the way that you do, and they shouldn’t make decisions on your behalf without consulting you first. Make sure that they are willing to explain all aspects of a proposed solution so that you can make an informed decision.
It goes without saying that CPAs need strong ethics, both because it’s part of one’s professional responsibilities and it’s also regulated by many states. However, these days more than ever accountants are expected to be able to seek out fraud and other unethical practices, both of which require the utmost levels of ethics.
The best CPAs for small businesses have strong interpersonal skills and are friendly. Even though you should value their expert advice, you also want to trust them as a member of your team. You will be working closely with this person for at least one year (and probably years after that), so it’s important that you like each other.
The best CPAs for small businesses know how to work in a team and have specific technical skills. They should be open to sharing tasks with you, delegating when necessary, and working closely with other members of your company to achieve business goals.
Organized & Professional
The best CPAs for small businesses are organized, professional and well-spoken. Responsibilities include managing staff members, organizing meetings, helping you keep up-to-date with relevant industry changes and enhancing your company’s public image.
The best CPAs for small businesses keep abreast of all relevant legislative changes and stay up-to-date with common industry practices. They will make your business aware of new laws, accounting standards, and ways to grow profitably. Organization is a skill that falls within the more linear side of the spectrum versus creativity and innovation, but it’s still an essential skill for accountants to possess.
A new associate who comes in organized and ready to tackle tasks (along with any questions) will always impress their manager and set themselves apart from their peers.