A business accountant shouldn’t spend all of their time with numbers. They should also spend time communicating with you about those numbers and what they mean for your business.

Communication between a business owner and their accountant is important because it allows you to:

  • Set expectations and guidelines for processes, systems, and results.
  • Outline financial plans and goals.
  • Identify challenges coming in the near and distant future.
  • Find opportunities for improvement.
  • Plan for future changes coming to your business or industry.

The better the communication between a business owner and their accountant, the more they will be able to get out of their partnership.

If you aren’t sure if you are getting the most out of your partnership, here are 40+ questions to ask your business accountant to open better lines of communication.

40+ Questions to Ask Your Business Accountant

Businesses work with accountants in a variety of ways. Here are a few scenarios for when you might need a business accountant and the questions you should ask during each situation.

When you start a new business…

If you are getting ready to start a new business, you want to get off on the right foot. That’s why it’s important to meet with a professional accountant who can help you plan and prepare. Set a meeting with an accountant to review your business plan and get advice on setting up and optimizing your accounting systems and processes.

Here are a few questions to ask an accountant as you get ready to start a new business.

  • What legal structure and tax classification are best for my business?
  • What are my tax obligations?
  • What tax regulations should I be aware of in this industry?
  • When do I need to pay taxes throughout the year?
  • What records should I keep?
  • What accounting software do you recommend?
  • How can I avoid making bookkeeping mistakes?
  • What business expenses should I deduct?
  • How should I classify employees and contractors?
  • What potential problems should I look out for?

If your business is just starting out, you may not have the resources or need for a full-time or outsourced accounting partner. Use your initial meeting to get as much information as you can to direct your bookkeeping until you can bring on a financial partner.

To prepare for tax season…

Every year, your business will need tax preparation. You may have an in-house accountant responsible for your taxes. Or, you may have an outsourced partner who focuses on taxes as part of their annual tasks or a partner who only works on your taxes once a year.

Whichever route you choose for your business tax preparation, you should meet with your tax accountant and ask questions to help you plan, prepare, and file. Here are questions to ask your tax partner.

  • When should I start to prepare for tax season?
  • How will new tax rules and regulations impact me this year?
  • Is my tax classification still the right approach?
  • How can I avoid red flags or tax mistakes?
  • What’s a projection of what I might owe?
  • Do I have any opportunities to decrease my tax liability?
  • Am I overlooking any small business tax deductions?
  • Should I increase spending before the end of the year?
  • Should I defer income until next year?
  • What happens if I get audited?
  • What do you need from me to do the best job on tax planning and filing?
  • How often should we meet to discuss tax planning throughout the year?

Some tax partners provide tax advice throughout the year, while others only provide services as you prepare your annual taxes. Talk to your partner about how they work and what you need to create a working relationship that gets both of you what you need to do the best job.

Related: 7 Reasons to Start Year-End Tax Planning Right Now

When you hire a new business accountant…

Once your business is ready to hire an accountant, you have options for how to find a partner. You can bring on a full-time accountant or choose to bring on a back office accounting partner. A back office accounting partner can provide all of the benefits of a full-time accounting partner without the cost of an in-house position.

Whether you choose an outsourced back office accounting partner or a full-time accountant, here are a few questions to review during your first meeting.

  • How can you help me grow my business?
  • What changes do you recommend I make to help my business?
  • Is my current legal structure and tax classification best for my business?
  • What’s my break-even point?
  • How can I improve cash flow?
  • How can I set and stick to a business budget?
  • What tax deadlines do I need to be aware of?
  • What are some things we should regularly review and discuss?
  • What will your financial reporting include?
  • What’s the best way to contact you (if using an outsourced partner)?
  • How often should we meet?

During the initial meeting, start to get a plan for how your partnership will work. Ask questions about the current state of your business, along with questions about the processes and systems you will use to manage your accounting moving forward.

Related: The 8 Benefits of Outsourcing Your Accounting

During regular check-ins with your business accountant…

When you have a full-time or outsourced accounting partner, schedule regular check-ins to review your financials. How often you meet and what you review will be different for every business and accounting partner.

No matter how often you meet, ask questions during check-ins to help you get a read on your business and gather information to make informed business decisions. Here are a few questions to ask during regular check-ins with your business accounting partner.

  • Am I on track for my growth goals?
  • Is my financial forecasting accurate?
  • How can I increase my profit?
  • How can I cut expenses?
  • What can I do to improve cash flow?
  • Do you have any suggestions for faster collection from customers?
  • Do we need an employee and contractor audit?
  • Should I seek equity or debt financing?
  • Do you have referrals for investors or lenders?
  • What do you need from me?

Don’t limit yourself to these questions. The more you communicate with your accounting partner, the better. Set time to meet with them regularly, and include them in all major business decisions so they can offer valuable insights based on your most accurate financial records and forecasts.

Free Guide: Build a 12-Month Plan to Make Your Business More Profitable

Find a Business Accountant Who Is a Business Partner

A good business accountant is a great partner to your business.

As you seek out accounting support, look for a partner who can help you keep track of your books and help you get the insights you need to grow your business and increase your profits.

See how back office accounting or outsourced CFO services from CFO Solutions can provide the partnership you need. Talk to our founder Susan Nieland today to see how we can support your business and help you set a financial plan for growth. Schedule your call today.

Susan Nieland