When is hiring a small business accountant worth the cost?

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

By Rebecca Stuart

Getting a small business off the ground is a challenging endeavor that requires a significant investment. As you consider the merits of spending your precious income, you will also need to consider professional bookkeeping. An important question to ask yourself is whether it is more prudent to bring in a full or part-time accountant or simply shoulder the responsibility yourself?

If you don’t have the accounting expertise required and don’t have the resources to hire in-house financial help, you can hire a certified public accountant. You won’t have to look far to find an affordable business CPA.

What is a small business accountant?

A small business accountant is a professional accountant specializing in helping small and medium enterprises owners with their financial record keeping. Since they regularly deal with smaller businesses, they are familiar with tax laws’ intricacies and what auditors look for when vetting a small business’s operations. They also have relevant certified public accountant (CPA) qualifications as issued by the state.

Accountant costs

Professional accounting services set small businesses back $1,000 on average annually. While not cheap, this is far less than what you would have to spend if hiring an in-house accountant. What your small business accountant charges will vary depending on several factors, including the size of your business, the scope of the work involved, their reputation, and level of expertise.

Because there is no flat charge for accounting services, you can shop around for a good deal.

Benefits of hiring an accountant

– Access to an experienced expert – You can take advantage of an accountant’s expertise to help you at every stage of your business, even before you get it off the ground. Your accountant can help you draft a business plan with projections that make sense to potential investors. As your business grows, he or she will help you through the transitions, including implementing a payroll system for your staff.

Eliminating the burden of handling accounting yourself – While there are numerous applications available to help small business owners handle their own bookkeeping, it will probably take you much longer to do your general ledger and prepare financial statements than someone who does it for a living. Delegating accounting duties to a qualified professional frees up time so you can focus on your core business, and it reduces the chances of errors popping up in your bookkeeping.

Filing your taxes correctly – A recent survey showed that small business owners who did their own taxes took four times longer to complete them than a typical tax professional.

Besides saving you time, your accountant will help you file your taxes according to current practices. Legislation like the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act introduced significant changes in how small businesses are taxed. Without a professional’s help, navigating the nuances behind small business taxes can be difficult.

Creating a more balanced budget – The success of your small business will require planning regardless of which field it is in. Budgeting is essentially financial planning for a business. Professional budgeting can be quite involved, and an accountant will know exactly how to use the information at hand to prepare short and long-term plans.

– Having someone nearby to handle unexpected due dates and fees – Small business accountants will be on hand to help owners of new ventures navigate the notoriously tricky waters of state and local government taxes. Like not knowing about a particular local government tax and its due date, something simple can easily set your business on a rocky path. Your accountant will help you deal with the technical side of things and keep you abreast of all the legal requirements applicable to your enterprise.

Potential pitfalls of hiring an accountant

– It can be expensive – Getting an accountant to handle your books or taxes will likely cost you hundreds of dollars depending on the tasks you want them to handle for you. However, if you compare this to the time you would spend to complete the work yourself, hiring an accountant could easily save you money in the long run.

They may be unfamiliar with your business’s needs – The accountant you approach may be used to dealing with businesses in certain industries and may not know what your specific bookkeeping needs entail. You can easily circumvent this potential pitfall by getting referrals from people in your industry. Finding accountants with experience working with clients similar to you can make all the difference in the quality of help you receive.

Determining if the benefits outweigh the costs

Eighty-eight percent of self-employed business owners and small business owners said it was worth hiring an accountant to help them file their 2019 taxes. If you’ve recently launched a business in a sector you’re not familiar with, an accountant’s expertise can prove invaluable in helping you become familiar with all the relevant tax and financial intricacies of your business.

To be sure you’re making the right decision when investing in outside accounting help, be sure to schedule interviews with several financial advisors to determine who is the best match for your business.

Cheap is expensive

Doing your own accounting may seem cheap. However, if you have no background in business account management, you risk making costly errors. Even if you have some tax knowledge, devoting your time to accounting can result in lost opportunities and growth for your business.


Rebecca Stuart is a part-time freelance writer who specializes in writing about business, technology, and lifestyle. She is also a mother of a daughter and likes to spend her free time doing art.

1 comment

  1. Luke Smith says:

    It’s nice that you pointed out how you could take advantage of an accountant’s expertise to help you at every stage of your business, even before you get it off the ground. I was listening to a business podcast earlier and I learned about the perks of hiring a business accountant. Handling everything about your business is not advisable, so it is best to ask for some assistance from experts.

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