How to Choose a Small Business Accountant in Alberta

David van MoorselStarting a Business

Whether your business operates as a sole proprietor or a corporation, choosing the right small business accountant is crucial for your success. Understanding the nuances of each business structure can significantly impact your financial management strategy. Here’s a step-by-step guide tailored for Alberta entrepreneurs to navigate this decision, integrating essential considerations for both sole proprietors and corporations.

Step 1: Understand the Role of an Accountant for Your Alberta Business

A small business accountant’s role extends beyond tax filing; they can provide comprehensive financial guidance, compliance assurance, and strategic planning tailored to your business structure—be it a sole proprietorship or a corporation. Recognizing this will help you value the depth of expertise needed, especially in Alberta’s business landscape.

Step 2: Identify Your Business Structure Needs

Determine whether your business will be operating as a sole proprietorship or a corporation. This decision can impact your accounting needs.

Sole proprietors have simpler financial management needs but lack the liability protection and potential tax advantages of corporations.

Corporations, on the other hand, offer benefits for longevity, limited liability, growth, and employee management (among the other benefits of incorporating a business in Alberta) but require meticulous financial record-keeping and compliance. In most cases, we recommend that businesses operating through a corporation seek dedicated assistance from a small business accountant.

Step 3: Decide on Service Type Based on Your Structure

Ensure your accountant is well-versed in the specific requirements of Alberta business incorporation for your company’s structure. The right professional should offer tailored advice for either sole proprietors looking to transition to a corporation or established corporations aiming for growth.

If you’re still uncertain about what structure is best for you and your business, we recommend starting by taking our Incorporation Quiz to find out if incorporation is likely to be a good fit for your business.

Consider whether you prefer an in-person accountant who can offer face-to-face meetings or if a remote accountant would suit your business model better. Each has its benefits: in-person for a more personalized approach, and remote for convenience and potentially broader options.

Step 4: Consider Billing Preferences with Your Structure in Mind

Small business accountants typically offer two billing models: flat fee or hourly rate. A flat fee is predictable and simplifies budgeting, but make sure you understand what’s included. Hourly billing offers flexibility but requires careful monitoring to manage costs.

Choose a small business accountant who provides a billing model that aligns with your business’s financial setup and complexity. Sole proprietors might prefer flat fees for simplicity, while corporations could benefit from a more detailed hourly rate approach to accommodate their broader range of financial activities.



Step 5: Look for Qualifications and Experience

Choose an accountant with the right qualifications (e.g., CPA) and experience relevant to your industry. Whether you operate as a sole proprietor or through a corporation, hiring an accountant familiar with your business type can offer more tailored advice and understand the unique challenges you face.

Bigger firms and older accountants aren’t always better. They can come with significant baggage and high overhead costs that they will need to pass on to their clients. They also tend to be more resistant to change, which can be a problem with today’s quickly evolving technological landscape.

Step 6: Compare Pricing

Get quotes from several small business accountants to compare pricing. Remember, the cheapest option may not always be the best value. Consider the range of services offered and the accountant’s experience and expertise. You should also consider the level of service being offered. Is the accountant just preparing financial statements and completing tax filings, or will they also be providing bookkeeping, tax advice, and business advisory services? These factors can play a major role in the price you will need to pay.

Step 7: Check References and Reviews

Ask for references and check online reviews. Ask your friends and family whether they’ve used an accountant for their businesses that they would recommend. Hearing from other business owners about their experiences can give you valuable insights into the accountant’s reliability, service quality, and client satisfaction.

Step 8: Assess Compatibility with Your Business Goals

Ensure you’re comfortable with the accountant’s communication style and approach. You’ll be sharing sensitive financial information, so it’s important that you trust them and can have open, honest discussions about your business finances.

Your small business accountant should not only understand the technical aspects of your business structure but also share your vision for growth and success. For businesses hoping to grow and be around for the long term, a corporate structure often offers the best framework for success. Your accountant should be a strategic partner in this journey.

Step 9: Make Your Decision

With all the information gathered, weigh your options and choose the small business accountant that best fits your business needs, preferences, and budget. Remember, this is a partnership, so select someone you believe will support your business’s growth.

Conclusion

Selecting the right accountant for your small business involves understanding what they offer, identifying your needs, and carefully considering your options. By following these steps, you can find a professional who not only manages your finances effectively but also contributes to your business’s success. An accountant is more than a service provider; they’re an essential part of your business strategy.

Incorporating your business or managing an existing corporation requires careful planning and knowledgeable support. Visit allincorporated.ca for more resources and expert guidance on Alberta business incorporation, company structures, and achieving long-term success.