How to Hire an Affordable Accountant for Your Business

By Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder
Published: Mar 29, 2024
Finding an affordable accountant for your small business is crucial for managing your finances without breaking the bank. In this article we'll tell you everything you need to know to hire an affordable accountant for your startup.
A professional woman is focused on calculating figures with a calculator at her work desk, which is equipped with various documents, a laptop, and office supplies.

Finding an affordable accountant for your small business is crucial for managing your finances without breaking the bank. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Understand Your Needs: Determine if you require help with taxes, bookkeeping, payroll, or strategic financial planning.
  • Set a Budget: Accountant costs vary, but aim to spend 5-10% of your annual revenue on accounting services.
  • Explore Options: Consider outsourcing, using accounting software, or hiring freelancers to find cost-effective solutions.
  • Evaluate Candidates: Look for qualifications, relevant experience, and good communication skills. Understand their billing rates and ensure they fit your budget.
  • Onboard Carefully: Provide your accountant with all necessary business information and set clear expectations.
  • Maintain a Productive Relationship: Schedule regular check-ins and provide ongoing feedback to ensure value.

By following these steps, you can find the right accounting help to support your business’s growth while keeping costs manageable.

Determining Your Accounting Needs

When you run a small business, it’s important to figure out exactly what kind of help you need with your money stuff. The kind of accounting support you need depends on a few things:

Full-time vs. Part-time

Hiring a full-time accountant means they’re always there, but you need to have enough work and money to pay for their salary and benefits.

Going with a part-time or outsourced accountant can save you money and give you flexibility, but you won’t have them around all the time. Think about:

  • How much work you have each month
  • If you get busier at certain times of the year
  • How complicated your business’s money matters are
  • How much you can afford to spend

For many small businesses, it makes sense to start with someone you pay by the hour or a CPA firm that charges you based on how much you use them.

Accounting Tasks

Here are some common things small businesses need help with:

  • Setting up a system to keep track of your money
  • Handling bills and payments coming in and out
  • Doing payroll
  • Making financial reports
  • Doing your business taxes
  • Planning your budget and future money needs
  • Giving advice on taxes
  • Making sure you’re following the rules
  • Helping with business setup and licenses

Figure out what you really need help with in terms of reports, following laws, planning, and advice. Make a list of the main problems you’re facing.

By knowing what you need help with from the start, you can find someone who’s affordable and right for your business. Think about what you’re dealing with now and what you might need help with as your business grows.

Setting Your Budget

When you’re thinking about getting an accountant for your small business, figuring out how much you can spend is a big deal. You want someone who does a good job without costing too much. Here’s how to think about your budget for accounting help:

Average Accountant Costs

What you pay can change a lot depending on who you hire, where you are, and what you need them to do. Here’s a rough idea:

  • Bookkeepers – They usually charge $30-50 every hour. Some might ask for a monthly fee of $200-800.
  • Accountants – Their hourly rates are between $50-150. Monthly fees can be $800-2,000.
  • CPAs – These experts charge more, around $100-500+ per hour. Monthly, you might pay $2,000 or more.

The more you need from them, the more it’ll cost. But even simple stuff can add up over a year. Make sure you’re clear about what you need when you ask for prices.

Match Budget to Business Revenue

Try to spend about 5-10% of what you make in a year on accounting. You might need to adjust this:

  • Early stage – Start with a bookkeeper who charges by the hour to keep costs low.
  • Growing – An accountant can help with reports and advice when you need it.
  • Mature – A full-time CPA can help with more complex tax stuff and big-picture planning.

If your business makes $100k a year, plan to spend $5-10k on accounting. Change this as your business grows or shrinks.

Additional Cost Considerations

Don’t forget about other possible costs:

  • Setting everything up
  • Paying for software
  • Help with audits
  • Advice for big business choices

Leave some room in your budget for things you might not expect. It’s okay to adjust as you go. The main thing is to find someone who gives you good value for what you can afford.

Finding an Affordable Accountant

Exploring Outsourcing and Offshoring

Sending your accounting work to companies in other countries can save you a lot of money. There are trustworthy firms, like Floowi, that let you work with skilled accountants and bookkeepers for much less than what you’d pay locally.

Here’s why this can be a good idea:

  • Lower Rates – You can hire experienced finance experts from other countries at rates 50-80% cheaper than in the US.
  • Efficiency – These teams are good at doing routine tasks quickly because they have the right processes in place.
  • Flexibility – You can get more or less help as your business needs change.
  • Cultural Fit – Companies like Floowi make sure their staff can speak your language and understand your business culture.

This option is great for new businesses and small companies because it lets owners focus on their main work.

Leveraging Technology

Using online accounting software can make a lot of finance tasks automatic, cutting down on manual work. Great options like QuickBooks Online and Xero connect directly to your bank accounts to help manage money coming in and out, payroll, and more.

Here’s what technology helps with:

  • Real-Time Reporting – You always know how your business’s money is doing.
  • Streamlined Processes – It makes things like tracking expenses, billing, and paying bills easier.
  • Collaboration – You can let your accountant, bookkeeper, and others access your financial information safely.

When you combine software with outsourced accounting help, you get a cost-effective way to handle your finances.

Hiring Freelancers

Hiring freelance accountants and bookkeepers can be cheaper than having full-time employees. Websites like Upwork and Fiverr let you find finance professionals who can work as needed.

Why this is a good choice:

  • Lower Cost – You only pay for the work you need, when you need it.
  • Specialized Skill Sets – You can find experts who know exactly how to help your type of business.
  • Flexible Scaling – It’s easy to get more help or cut back depending on your current business situation.

Freelancers work well for new or small businesses with simple accounting needs. As your business gets bigger and more complex, you might need a more structured team.

By mixing these different options, almost any business can find good accounting help that fits their budget. The main thing is to figure out the best combination for keeping a close watch on your finances without spending too much.

Evaluating Potential Accountants

When you’re looking for an accountant, you want to make sure you pick the right one. Here’s what to keep an eye out for:

Qualifications

Most accountants have a degree in accounting or something similar. Here are some extra qualifications that are good to see:

  • CPA (Certified Public Accountant) – This means they’ve passed tests in accounting, auditing, taxes, and business law.
  • EA (Enrolled Agent) – This person is allowed by the IRS to speak for taxpayers.
  • CMA (Certified Management Accountant)
  • CIA (Certified Internal Auditor)
Relevant Experience
  • Ask if they’ve worked with businesses like yours before (how big it is, what kind of work you do).
  • Look at their past clients and what they’ve done for them.
  • Make sure they know how to handle the things you need help with, like keeping track of your money, paying employees, handling taxes, and giving advice.
Communication Skills
  • See if they’re good at listening and can explain tricky things in a simple way.
  • You should feel comfortable talking to them, whether it’s face-to-face, on the phone, or by email.
  • They should be able to give you new ideas and advice without you having to ask all the time.
Billing Rates & Fees
  • Find out how they charge – by the hour, a set fee every month, or per job.
  • Ask them to write down how much they think it’ll cost, so you can plan your budget.
  • Check if there are extra costs for things like doing your taxes, checking your books, or giving special advice.
Expertise & Specializations
  • They should be really good at figuring out taxes, keeping everything legal, and filing the right forms.
  • They might also know a lot about checking your business’s health, planning your budget, and helping you make more money.
  • If you use accounting software, they should be able to set it up and show you how to use it.

By looking at their qualifications, experience, how well they talk about complicated stuff, what they charge, and what they’re really good at, you can find the perfect accountant for your business.

Onboarding Your Accountant

Getting your new accountant up to speed is super important. It helps them really understand your business and what you need from them. Here’s how to make sure they start off on the right foot:

Provide Background on Your Business

Tell your accountant about your business. This includes:

  • A quick history and what you sell or do
  • Past money reports and tax info
  • Your budget and future money plans
  • How you keep track of your money
  • Introducing them to important people in your finance team

This info helps them get a full picture of your business right from the start.

Set Expectations and Guidelines

Talk about what you expect from each other. This should cover:

  • What jobs they’ll do – like keeping books, making reports, planning budgets, and handling taxes
  • How and when you’ll talk to each other
  • Goals and important numbers to watch
  • Rules for approving spending and signing off on documents
  • How much they’ll charge and when you’ll pay them

Being clear about these things helps everything go smoothly.

Gather Necessary Access and Materials

Make sure your accountant can get into all the systems and accounts they need, such as:

  • Your accounting software
  • Bank and credit card accounts
  • Systems for billing and payments
  • Your payroll service
  • Tax records
  • Important legal papers

Giving them access lets them do their job well.

Doing these steps when you’re starting with a new accountant helps both of you work well together. It’s all about making sure they have what they need, know what you expect, and can easily get into all the systems and information.

Maintaining a Productive Relationship

Keeping a good working relationship with your accountant is key for your business to do well. Here’s how to keep things smooth and make sure you’re getting your money’s worth:

Schedule Regular Check-ins
  • Plan to meet with your accountant every month or every few months to go over your finances, talk about any worries, and make plans for the future. This helps you both stay on the same page as things change in your business.
  • Try to meet face-to-face or through video calls if you can. It’s easier to understand each other that way. Emails are okay but can feel less personal.
  • Be ready with things you want to talk about and questions you have so you make the most of your time together.
Provide Ongoing Feedback
  • When something isn’t right, speak up early so it can be fixed. Don’t wait until small problems become big headaches.
  • Don’t forget to say ‘good job’ when your accountant does something really well. Everyone likes to know when they’re doing a good job.
  • When you give feedback, be clear and kind so your accountant can take it well and make changes.
Review Value and Fit
  • Every so often, like once a year, think about if your accountant is still the right choice for your business as it grows or changes.
  • Think about what you need help with and if you’re still getting a good deal.
  • Talk openly about what’s going well and what could be better in how you work together.
  • If things aren’t working out, even after talking about it, it might be time to look for someone new. Just be honest about why you’re making a change.

By having regular meetings, being honest with each other, and checking in on how things are going, you can have a strong partnership with your accountant. The main thing is to keep talking and make sure you’re both happy with how things are going.

Conclusion

Choosing an accountant who doesn’t break the bank is a smart move for small businesses. It’s all about knowing what you need, figuring out what you can spend, looking into smart ways to save money, and picking the right person for the job. Here’s a quick guide to get you there:

  • Know What You Need Help With: Do you need someone to handle your books, taxes, payroll, or give you business advice? Be clear so you can find someone with the right skills.
  • Decide How Much to Spend: Aim to use about 5-10% of what your business makes in a year for accounting. Adjust as your business grows or changes.
  • Think About Outsourcing and Using Software: Hiring accountants from other countries and using online accounting tools can help save money.
  • Look for the Right Experience and Certifications: Find accountants or CPAs who know how to work with small businesses and understand your industry.
  • Make Sure You Communicate Well and Understand Their Fees: It’s important that you’re on the same page about how much things will cost and how you’ll work together.
  • Get Them Started Right: Share everything they need to know about your business, give them access to your systems, and set clear rules.

By taking these steps, small business owners can find the right accounting help. This lets them focus on growing their business while someone else takes care of the money details. The best accountant is more than just a numbers person; they’re a partner in your business’s success.

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Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder

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