The stress of choosing the right person to help with your finances is real. Someone taking a look at how you spend your business money is like asking someone to go through your laundry hamper. Things will be seen. Will the accountant judge? What will they think?
When interviewing someone to manage your books, the assurances of Don't worry, I just balance the ledgers, it's not up to me to tell you how to run your business seems like the answer we want to hear. And, if that is all you are comfortable with, then maybe you are not ready to hire an accounting partner.
If your life partner did not provide feedback on how you were managing your life, wouldn't you worry if (s)he cared? How invested is a life partner who doesn't pay attention to the details of your life?
The role of the accounting partner is to help you with the business. The right partner will absolutely look at how you are spending money, generating revenue and managing cash flow and the right partner WILL make judgments as to whether you are on a path that needs to be discussed. The right accounting partner will apply the logic of your business and challenge your thinking.
It is your business. But it is important that you partner with the people who you trust to point out when you have fallen in love with your own ideas and challenge you so that you can be better. So that your business can be better.
So how do you find this partner? And what are you really looking for?
Someone who thinks like you!
Certainly you need someone with the same passion for the goal as you. But, you need someone who will think differently than you do so that you can challenge each other.
Thinking like you is different than being aligned with you. If you can find someone who is aligned with your goal and who challenges you, it is time to think about a partnership. Don't look for someone who thinks like you. Look for someone who is as passionate as you. Look for someone who challenges you.
Someone you trust!
This one is not something you can interview for. You have to talk to someone. Get to know them. Find the value that they bring to the partnership. And if this sounds like dating...it was meant to.
Trust is earned. And, just like personal relationships, time must be invested for trust to develop. Interviews are like a series of dates. And whether you are hiring someone to join your payroll or a remote accountant to manage things from a distance, you need to find someone who will give you feedback. You need to appreciate the feedback. Appreciation does not mean that you always take the advice. But appreciation does always mean that you keep the feedback in your criteria for consideration when you deciding how to proceed. When looking for an accounting partner, you are looking for someone who you see yourself growing to trust.
Someone who is honest!
Growing from trust will be honesty. Your accounting partner needs to be able to share the bad news and not just enjoy sharing the good news.
Accountants who paint only rosy pictures are doing a disservice to your partnership. But this flows both ways. You have to be honest with yourself about whether you are ready to hear the bad news. The laundry basket will be open and you will need to be ready to share. As trust and honesty work hand in hand, this is a key to the partnership.
As you are looking for your next Accountant, I challenge you to look for an Accounting Partner. Interviewing for things like technical experience or software experience are all things that are not going to help you find what you need.
Technical Experience: If someone has their accounting designation (CPA) or years of experience in a similar role, the ability to read a P&L or to reconcile an account is going to be there. Industry experience will help you determine if someone will have the experiences to help challenge you as you grow your business. Technical experience is a technicality which, while important, should not be the driving force in your partner selection.
Software Experience: This can be learned if needed. While this may be an important criteria for narrowing candidates down, it should not be the deciding factor. How your accounting partner interacts with software is far less important than how the partner will interact with you.
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