Hiring a Small Business Accountant: What You Need to Know

Embarking on the journey of establishing a small business or aiming to trim costs for an already established venture often leads to the consideration of accounting as a discretionary expense. 

The temptation to handle bookkeeping and accounting personally might appear to be a swift solution to save resources, but the reality is that such shortcuts can prove to be more costly in both time and money in the long run.

In this post, we’ll explore the significance of enlisting the expertise of a small business accountant and how this decision can profoundly impact your financial landscape.

We’ll also cover the benefits of choosing Blackwattle Tax–the go-to outsourced accounting team for small business owners, contractors, and sole traders–dedicated to relieving the burden of managing your small business taxes and finances.

Does a small business need an accountant?

Starting and running a successful small business can be rewarding but also very stressful. The time, money, and risk involved can often stop dreams of running a business before they even start.  

However, partnering with an accountant dedicated to business owners is the initial step toward achieving small business success.

What are the benefits of hiring a small business accountant?

Maximise savings with a skilled accountant

For many startups and even established businesses, accounting and bookkeeping are viewed as unavoidable expenses. In an attempt to cut costs, some opt for a budget-friendly accountant, often resulting in inadequate time and commitment to establish the business structure correctly from the outset. 

This reactive approach can lead to a relationship focused solely on completing tax lodgements at the lowest cost, providing minimal advice or guidance for business improvement.

This approach not only compromises potential profits for small business owners but can also result in costly mistakes, including accounting and tax errors. 

At Blackwattle Tax, we’ve witnessed a spectrum of these errors, ranging from inefficient company or trust structures to inaccurate tax advice for asset transactions and fundamental mistakes in bookkeeping. 

These issues can have severe financial consequences, emphasising the critical role of investing in a proficient accountant from the start.

Get professional advice, more than just lodging tax returns

Consider your relationship with a reliable small business accountant akin to that with a trusted family doctor. Regular check-ups are essential for identifying issues before they escalate, and you certainly wouldn’t want a doctor who only sees you once a year after you’ve been sick for weeks. 

Similar to a family doctor who understands your medical history, a great small business accountant engages with you regularly, keeps your financial records updated, and offers valuable advice to enhance the overall health of your business. Regular communication ensures you’re well-informed and enables proactive steps to improve the quality of your business life.

Collaborate with a tax agent and a valuable business coach

Small business accountants should be more than tax agents lodging tax returns and BAS, they are business coaches that provide value analysis, insights, strategies on financial performance and business operations.  

Accountants can also help you save time and money on implementing valuable systems and procedures particularly involving your accounting, finance, and payment systems. This ensures that bookkeeping and accounting data can be processed quickly and efficiently using automation, reducing the need for staff or external advisers.

Experience peace of mind with affordable fixed-fee packages

In contrast to traditional hourly rates, many modern small business accountants and advisors, including us, have embraced a transparent approach. 

At Blackwattle Tax, our fixed-fee packages outline all included services, offering clients a clear understanding of our collaboration. Tailored to your individual needs, from meeting frequency to comprehensive business and tax affairs reviews, our packages provide certainty and flexibility. 

With the ability to revisit and adjust the scope of work as your business evolves, you gain both peace of mind and confidence in what to expect.

4 essential things an accountant can do for your small business

Great small business accountants like Blackwattle Tax are more than just Registered Tax Agents, we are business advisers.  We offer a range of services to support business performance and help grow family wealth. 

Some of the key services we provide are:

  • Bookkeeping: We assist in setting up user-friendly accounting software and utilise advanced tools to automate and simplify the accounting and finance tasks of small businesses. Efficient software usage ensures timely lodgements, freeing you from unnecessary hassles with the Australia Taxation Office (ATO). This approach also provides small business owners with prompt and accurate accounting information for informed decision-making.
  • Tax lodgements: Keeping up with your tax lodgements begins with timely account preparation. This enables small business accountants to dedicate the necessary time and attention to prepare tax returns and BAS/activity statements well in advance. Avoid the last-minute rush and messy accounts scenario, as having your accounts and lodgements ready ahead of time is the ideal situation for a business owner. This proactive approach allows for better financial planning, as you’ll know your tax obligations well in advance, can manage cash flow for timely payments, and have confidence that your accountant has maximised your tax benefits with ample time and access to your information.
  • Strategic advice: Completing small business tax returns shouldn’t be the end of the work with your accountant for the year.  It is the opportunity to sit down and get some strategic advice to plan your next moves for the business.  Your end-of-year returns are the basis for tax planning for the year ahead, preparing a budget/forecast for the business, and allow you to explore bank and finance opportunities to help grow your business.
  • Business coaching: Accountants, as business advisers, are your go-to experts for understanding your numbers. Your accountant can analyse and compare your current performance with past years, benchmark it against industry standards, and help set targets for future success. Keep your accountant in the loop, making them your sounding board. They should be your first contact point for business decisions, helping prevent mistakes and maximising opportunities you’ve identified. 

How to choose the right accountant for your small business

Most suburban tax agents have limited experience, time, and resources to offer anything more than just lodging your end-of-year tax return. 

Here are some key questions to help you assess whether an accountant is well-suited for your small business need:

Ask what their qualifications are

At a basic level accountants need as a minimum a Diploma of Accounting.  However, most qualified small business accountants will have a Bachelor Degree in Accounting and will have likely completed a postgraduate professional qualification or ‘chartered status’ through the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) or CPA Australia Ltd. The more qualified they are, the more likely they will have the right experience and expertise to help your business grow.

Find out the size of clients they typically work with

It is important to understand if the accountant is the right size for your small business.  Small businesses are defined by most government agencies, such as the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) as those that have a turnover of less than $50 million per annum.  

According to the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, small businesses employing less than 20 employees make up 97% of all businesses in Australia, and those that have turnover of less than $10 million make up 98.5% of businesses in Australia.  

You want to find out if an accountant has experience in dealing with similar clients of a similar size in terms of turnover and employees to ensure you are not going to be a ‘big fish in a small pond’ or a ‘small fish in a big pond.’  Too big and they might not have the experience or resources to complete your work, too small and they might put you at the bottom of their list of clients.

Understand the industry experience they have

Determine if the accountant has experience working with clients in your industry. Specialised industry knowledge, whether in medical/dental practices, franchises, property, or hospitality, can offer valuable insights. While it may not be a dealbreaker, understanding the depth of their industry knowledge is beneficial.

Ask about their engagement proposals and fee structure

Steer clear of accountants relying solely on hourly rates, as they might not prioritise delivering value for your money or fostering a long-term relationship. Opt for an accountant offering fixed-fee packages, and ensure a thorough discussion about the services you require, understanding the team supporting their work, clarifying any key terms in the proposal, and agreeing on fees before starting your collaboration.

Ready to connect with our expert small business accountants at Blackwattle Tax?

Looking for a new small business accountant or starting a business? It’s best to talk to a few accountants, compare their services, and take your time to find the right fit for a long-term partnership.

At Blackwattle Tax, we’re your trusted outsourced accounting team, here to make small business taxes and finances stress-free. We keep your accounts up to date for better business decisions. Let us handle the tax details on time, providing accurate information for insightful analysis and improvement options.

Our experienced Chartered Accountants are ready to support your business. With a proven track record across industries, we empower clients for better financial and tax outcomes. 

Book a FREE 30-minute consultation today to discuss your business challenges and develop a tailored tax strategy.

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