Hiring an accountant? Here are 15 interview questions to help you choose the right person!

Hiring an accountant is an awesome moment in any BOSS's journey. It means that you're making money, and enough of it to warrant asking for guidance on how to make the best use of it.

I know that hiring an accountant can seem intimidating, especially if you don't know what questions to ask. The important thing to remember is that it's just like hiring a Virtual Assistant or Social Media Manager or someone to handle your PR, you want to hire an accountant that understands your business and vision. And someone that you get along with!

Danetha Doe and Money & Mimosas

Most accountants are good at their job, but most of them will not be a good fit for your business. To help you figure all that out, here are 15 questions you should ask before choosing the right person for you.

Fifteen Interview Questions Before You Hire Your Accountant

  1. What experience do you have with my industry?

  2. Could you help me figure out how to grow my company and give advice when I'm looking to hire or expand?

  3. Do you file taxes? If not, do you have a recommendation?

  4. How often do you meet with your current clients?

  5. How often may I contact you? Will I be charged each time?

  6. How do you charge your clients? Is it a flat fee, retainer or hourly?

  7. Which accounting tools are you familiar with?

  8. Is there a bookkeeping program that you prefer? Why do you prefer it?

  9. What are some of the latest trends in my industry and how will they help me in my business? (i.e. If you’re a health coach, what are some changes within the way coaches are doing business that may help improve your business?)

  10. How do you prefer to communicate with your clients? Is it via text, email, social media?

  11. Do you have a staff member, or someone other than you, who will be accessing my file?

  12. How much work do you need me to do to make our relationship as effective as possible?

  13. Do you have any previous or current clients that I could reach out to?

  14. What’s your #1 tip to me about how I can improve my business?

  15. Why did you fall in love with accounting and working with small business owners?

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What to do when you fall behind in your bookkeeping

We’ve all been there. When we’ve gone weeks, maybe months, without organizing our bank transactions and receipts. It can be overwhelming to think of the backlog that needs to get taken care of.

I wish I could say that there was a quick fix to this situation, but there isn’t. If you’ve fallen behind in your bookkeeping and want it cleaned up correctly, you will have to put some time and effort into it.

Why is having up-to date books important? Usually the first thing we think about is taxes, which is important. The cleaner your bookkeeping is, the easier and more accurate your tax filing will be.

But, we also want to keep track of how much we’ve invested in our business and if we’re actually making a profit. Too often I speak to entrepreneurs who are super excited about breaking through six-figures, but then have no idea how much they’ve actually spent on their business. Remember…

It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep if you want to run a successful business. 

This page will walk you through the exact steps you need to take in order to get your bookkeeping up to date. If you’ve already started using a bookkeeping program, begin with Step #5.

  1. Choose a bookkeeping program. Some of my favorite programs are Xero, Quickbooks, Kashoo and Freshbooks.

  2. Set up the program. Follow the program’s instructions on how to get set up. The key step is to link your related bank and credit cards.

  3. Make sure all of your transactions are included. Depending on the program you choose, when you link your bank info, it may allow you to backdate to the first day of your business transactions. If not, you will need to obtain the CSV file from your bank and upload the transactions manually.

  4. Set up your chart of accounts. These are your categories (aka “buckets”) where you’ll place different transactions.

  5. Reconcile your transactions. Depending on how many transactions you have in the backlog, I would start with the oldest and work forward. Why? Because the further away the date is, the harder it will be to remember it.

  6. Divide the transactions into week-long chunks. Do not try to reconcile them all in one sitting. For example, if you are three months or 12 weeks behind, plan to complete everything over the course of 4-8 weeks. Each week you’ll reconcile 1 or 2 week’s worth of old transactions.

  7. Reconcile the old transactions with the ongoing transactions. As you're catching up on older transactions, you are also doing the bookkeeping for the present. In this case, if you have 12 weeks to catch up on and do 2 weeks of old transactions and the current week (a total of 3 weeks), within a month and a half you’ll be all caught up!

It’s okay if you’ve fallen behind in your bookkeeping. The past is the past. Now, it’s time to take action, get caught up and establish habits so that it never happens again.

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Budgeting against your goals throughout the year

This post was in partnership with Wells Fargo. Originally posted on Wells Fargo Works.

One of the more challenging aspects of running a company is determining how to best allocate the company’s revenue according to a budget. Oftentimes, a company will begin the year with one idea and, midway through, realize that they want to take a different direction. This can lead to uncertainty about how to best manage cash flow and how to adjust projections. 

The key with business budgeting is to always remember that a budget is a fluid document. It’s merely a guide for you to use to determine your next best move, and it is OK to adjust it throughout the year. 

Estimate your annual budget

When you’re creating your annual budget projection, you may want to consider applying the 60/20/20 rule. Generally speaking: 

  • 60% of revenue should be used for fixed expenses. This includes salaries, overhead expenses, reserves for tax payments, and the company’s profit goals. 

  • The first 20% should be dedicated to growth. This may include investing in marketing, advertising, and other initiatives to expand the company’s brand and reach. 

  • The second 20% should be designated for internal development. This could include R&D for products-based businesses or training for staff members to improve their skill sets and leadership abilities. 

Create quarterly budget goals

Every 90 days or so, you should aim to check in on your annual budget projection. To help with this, you also need to create four separate quarterly budgets. When planning your quarterly budget, work with your team to decide on the number one objective for each quarter. It could fall under one of three categories:

  • Growth: Pushing your business into a growth phase 

  • Stability: Remaining stable and consistent 

  • Research and Development (R&D): Increasing your service level with an advanced technology investment or internal team training 

RELATED: Need help setting financial goals for your business? Expert Ellen Rohr is here to help.

Adjust based on your needs

Keep in mind that the 60/20/20 rule is a guide. Depending on your quarterly objective, you may need to tweak these percentages. For instance, if you are developing a new product to bring to market, you will likely need to increase the percentage dedicated to internal development, and decrease your funds allocated to growth. 

Once that product has been created and is ready to go to market, you may reduce the amount devoted to R&D from perhaps 30% or 35% back down to 15% or 10% and re-allocate the remaining funds to growth. At this point, you might consider increasing the percentage of revenue dedicated to growth to 30% or 35% in order to pay an outside branding consultancy to help you package and position the product, work with a marketing agency to help you spread the word, and later work with an advertising agency to help you increase sales. 

If you are a service-based business, you may decide to focus on developing your staff at a specific point in the year, which will increase the amount of money that the company is using for internal development. 

The key to business budget planning is flexibility when it comes to your objectives and quarterly budgets. This will help drive your budgeting decisions and keep your business on track. 

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Our Top 5 Favorite Bookkeeping Apps for the Independent Woman

Oh, bookkeeping. The bane of every business owner's existence. 

But, we all know that keeping track of our monies is the secret to leading the carefree, glamour-filled lifestyle. As an independent woman, it is imperative that we know how to manage our books. And not end up in a BBHMM situation like Rihanna did with her CPA firm. More about that, here.

Often times, business owners wait until tax season to start thinking about their books. Leaving you in a frenzy trying to figure out where the receipt is for that random $87 charge way back in the month of the May. 

Top 5 Bookkeeping Apps for the Independent Woman.png

Do your tax accountant a favor this year and let's burn all of the shoeboxes. Get a jumpstart on organizing your books by using an online program. Not only does this make filing super easy peasy, it also helps you stay on top of your finances throughout the year during your weekly money dates

Here is a list of the top five bookkeeping programs that I love for the independent woman.

  1. Quickbooks Self-Employed - a fantastic tool for freelancers and independent contractors. Best feature: Love that it automatically calculates your quarterly taxes, and allows you to send invoices on the go. Downside: customizing your invoices is very limited, which we know is important to our creative friends. Cost: Starts at $10/month and goes up to $17/month.

  2. Freshbooks- great tool for the self-employed and project-based businesses. Best feature: hands down the best invoice customization tool on the market. Downside: the financial reporting is limited, which may be an issue as you grow your business. Cost: Starts at $15/month and goes up to $50/month

  3. Xero Tax Touch- known as beautiful accounting software, this program's design is really easy on the eyes and geared towards freelancers/independent contractors. Best feature: easy-to-read report on your income, expenses and how much taxes you owe for the year. Downside: no invoicing capability, which is a huge downside for the woman on the go. Cost: $6/month

  4. Sage One- geared towards the small business owner on the go. Best feature: great inventory tracking capabilities. Downside: this product is a little too robust for the freelancer or independent contractor, and therefore not very intuitive. Cost: $25/month

  5. Kashoo- named the #1 accounting app on the iPad and really great for the traveling business owner. Best feature: works offline so you can access your data even if you are out of internet range. Downside: similar to SageOne, not necessarily an intuitive program for the freelancer or independent contractor. Cost: Approximately $17/month

And now we'd like to hear from you! Which accounting software do you use for your business and why? Leave a comment below.

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