Accountants: When is the right time to seek financial advice

As a relatively new freelancer, what things should you take into consideration before bringing on an accountant?

The starting point is to ask yourself how you value your time. Is your time better spent developing your business or doing your bookkeeping?

Look at it in the context of your own business: clients bring you in because they don’t have the skills, resources and time to spend on a project, but are willing to pay for your skills and expertise. On one level, your relationship with your accountant should be the same.

So how do you choose? First, despite being new to freelancing, consider your end game. Are you looking to work for yourself until you retire, or do you have aspirations to create a much larger business with a view to selling it on? Different destinations: different accounting and tax needs.

Second, ask yourself what you need now: is it just bookkeeping support and basic accounts work? If so, the answer may be a competitively priced portal-based service to enter invoices and expenses, with telephone support when you need it. Or are you looking for more from your accountant – a business adviser to help you grow your business?

Third, speak to like-minded people – other people running small businesses to see what they like about their accountant and the value they get.

Now, speak to some accountants; perhaps arrange to meet them. Ask the accountant about their business: do they act for businesses like yours and can you speak to one of their clients?

Does the firm offer the services you think you will need? Does the firm have the structure and expertise to support your ambitions? Can they give examples of who can help you with your other business needs? Can they introduce you to clients?

Do they share your commercial outlook? And above all, do you think you’ll like them? Let’s hope so, because you could be with your accountant for the next 30 years.

Paul Mason, National Accounts Manager at Abbey Tax