Choosing an Accountant for Home-Based Business

Beverley Williams

You may not think you and your business need an accountant, particularly in the startup stages of your home-based business. But consider the many issues on which an accountant can provide a wealth of advice and expertise:


  • The correct form of business for you

  • Setting up your financial records

  • Estimating your taxes

  • Handling purchases made on your behalf

  • The differences between a 1099 and a W-2

  • Required tax forms

How Do You Choose an Accountant Who Is Right For You?

Begin by asking your colleagues:


  • Who they use

  • What aspects they like about that person/firm

  • What aspects they don’t like about that person/firm

  • How long they have been using the services of that person/firm

Interview each prospective accountant by asking:


  • What is the profile of his/her average client?

  • What type of client is his/her average client? A small business? A personal tax client?

  • How extensive is his/her experience with home-based businesses?

  • How many home-based businesses does he/she represent?

  • What are the credentials of each prospective accountant? CPA? CFA?

  • What is the fee schedule? Does he/she charge for telephone calls?

  • What clients would be willing to provide a reference on his/her behalf to you?

Analyze the answers by the following:


  • How much of his/her experience matches your needs?

  • How many startup businesses has he/she worked?

  • Did he/she seem confident in answering your questions without appearing arrogant?

  • Is the fee schedule affordable?

  • Are the answers from his/her references satisfactory? Listen closely to the answers and read between the lines as well as listening to the actual words.

If there is no clear leader among the prospective accountants, trust your intuition! Choose the accountant with whom you felt most comfortable and build a relationship with that person.

Your accountant may become your best business partner, saving you thousands of dollars and headaches. Your accountant will be worth every penny spent.

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