Being in business, especially small business, can mean that the one person has to wear many "hats." However, unless you are a qualified accountant, this is one hat that I suggest you never attempt to "wear."
Every business needs a good accountant and with tax time looming, this is something that is front of mind. However, an accountant isn't just for tax; they can help you will all stages of your business.
An accountant can explain legal, business structures that are available and help you to choose the one that best suits you. What you start with may not be suitable as your business grows and an accountant can help with any changes necessary.
In any business it is important to plan for the future and using financial reports generated by your accountant can help determine when and what inventory to buy. If you have an accounting system that you use in your business, an accountant can help you to set this up and to understand the reports that are generated by the system. They can teach you how to read a balance sheet, profit and loss report, income statements and all manner of other financial reports.
An accountant understands tax and although this seems to be an obvious statement, with the constant changes to rules and regulations, it is important to
keep up with these. An accountant does just this and will ensure that your business stays compliant.
They can help a business to avoid an audit by ensuring a business stays fiscally sound and not making mistakes on the annual tax return such as writing off excessive amounts or items that shouldn't/can't be written off.
They can also support you by ensuring that you get all possible deductions by identifying potential deductions through the year and advising you about these.
Regardless of the type of business that you are in, an accountant can help you price your service/products accordingly, taking into account fixed costs,
hidden costs and variable costs.
They can also help a business owner make sound financial decisions from which accounting software to buy to hiring more employees.
Your accountant is someone that is removed from your business and will often provide a different perspective that may be otherwise overlooked or missed completely. They are not emotionally invested into the business so are able to look at it from an impartial view.
Finding a good accountant is different for every business. First and foremost you need to trust your accountant and from my experience, have someone that is willing to take the time to explain things to you and that you are able to contact whenever you need them.
An good accountant should be viewed as an investment, not an expense.