Best Outsourced Accounting Services
If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve likely considered how to procure accounting services for your small business. Let’s take a deeper dive into outsourced accounting services and how they can help your business.
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Best Outsourced Accounting Services
Are you looking to outsource your accounting services? The best outsourced accounting services firm is the one that fits your needs and your vision for a productive partnership. In your search for the right outsourced bookkeeping and accounting services, there are many ways to evaluate which are best. Let’s review a few key qualities that can help you determine the best service for you.
Which are the best companies for outsourcing bookkeeping and accounting services?
Neither the cheapest company nor the biggest company are guaranteed to be the best option when it comes to an accounting service provider. Just as your business is unlike any other out there, each outsourced accounting service provider can bring a little something different to the table. It is important to identify what matters most to you and look for professionals who can understand your vision, are equipped to help you reach your goals, and stay true to your company’s core values.
When searching for an outsourced accounting service company, here are nine important considerations:
1. Sufficient Experience
Before hiring any accounting service provider, ask about the level of experience the accountants have in the specific services you need to make sure you’re in good hands. Accounting work requires varying levels of expertise and knowledge. While some simpler tasks, such as bookkeeping, can be handled by entry-level accountants, complex tasks like cash flow planning and strategic financial advice calls for a more experienced professional. It’s important to know that the person you’re trusting with your company’s numbers is going to handle them well. When looking for a firm, find one that has experience with the type of work you need fulfilled.
2. Certified Public Accountant Certification
It’s also important to consider whether or not your accountant needs to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
The CPA designation is an impressive credential and one that is very important for certain functions and less important for others. For example, when it comes to compliance related functions like preparing tax returns or performing an annual audit, a CPA is well-qualified to perform this work. However, when it comes to performing outsourced accounting services, the CPA credential is much less important. What is most important is that the person you engage has the relevant experience to perform the specific function you need. They may be a CPA, but they don’t need to be. In fact, most local CPA firms are not the best choice when it comes to managing your outsourced accounting needs. Typically they are proficient at handling the traditional tax and audit functions, but lack the necessary skills when it comes to leveraging the latest technologies to drive day-to-day accounting efficiencies.
3. Specialized Focus
Some bookkeepers or CPAs might offer their services to a variety of different kinds of businesses. Although this can work on a small scale, if you hope to build a productive relationship with a firm who truly understands the unique demands of your industry, look for a firm with specialized experience. When you find a company that specializes in your field, you are much more likely to get the results you are looking for. This is because the advice you’re receiving is being tailored to your industry.
For example, at Milestone we specialize in working with professional services companies, Software as a Service (SaaS) companies, and nonprofits. We have years of experience in working with these industries and have tailored our services to meet their needs.
Another important step in finding a good, outsourced accounting service is making sure they are transparent with you about their services. In any business collaboration, it is essential that the partners maintain transparencies in business transactions and services so you know what you’re paying for. This includes making sure their bookkeeping and accounting services are in the USA. It has become increasingly common for accounting firms to offshore their services to other countries. That route may offer cost savings, but it comes at the expense of not developing a true relationship with the people going into your books each month. Another significant factor to consider is if you and your service provider don’t have full control over who is doing your books, it can be tough to ensure consistency and continuity of service. If relationships matter to you as you grow your business, stick with a firm whose staff is located in the USA and invested in creating a genuine and authentic connection.
5. Range of Services
Today you may just be trying to fill a hole in your back office, but down the road you could benefit from an outsourced CFO that offers more strategic advice to help you scale your business. A provider that offers a wide range of services can allow you to find the exact fit for the gap you’re looking to fill while also being there for you in the future when you experience growth. Whatever specific service you need today, keep in mind that your needs will evolve as your business grows. Look for a provider who can grow with your business and offer additional support when you need it.
6. Broader Business Support
What if you could have multiple elements of your back office managed under one firm? Many times, accounting is just one element of the whole picture. If you’re outsourcing monthly accounting, for example, wouldn’t it make a lot of sense to also outsource your HR and payroll to that same vendor? This way, each side can inform the other and help provide a more integrated set of services for your business to succeed at its best. If you can find an outsourced accounting services provider who also has equally qualified people to help you with other back-office functions like HR, that just means you have an even bigger team to tap when the need arises.
7. Smart Technology Tools
Within five years, today’s CFOs believe that 90% of finance functions will be fully automated, according to a 2020 Grant Thornton survey. When hiring an outsourced accounting service, you should be paying for the 10% that can’t be automated, not the 90% that can. The best providers will employ technology to automate what can be automated and integrate disparate sources of data to create the right foundation. Getting accurate and timely information to make smart decisions doesn’t happen by accident. It takes experience and thoughtful planning to implement technology that will streamline processes and optimize financials. Look for providers who understand the technology landscape and can help you identify best-in-class solutions to create efficiency and deliver the results you want.
8. Data Security
Unfortunately, data security issues are in the news almost every day. And when a data breach does occur, the results can be costly both in time and expense. Understanding the importance of data security and selecting a firm that is equipped to protect your interests should be an important consideration when choosing an outsourcing accounting service. A reputable firm understands the importance of data security and privacy and will take proactive measures to ensure your protection. Take the time before you engage with a firm to understand their data policies and the steps they take to ensure the protection of your confidential information.
9. Confidence and Engagement
At the end of the day, you want to work with real people who you actually want to spend time with and who share your values. You won’t be able to easily engage with your accounting team if they’re out of the country, limited to an anonymous customer support chat window, or if they have a bad attitude. This often leads to a neglect in your business finances which could be harmful to your business as a whole. Although it can be difficult to quantify, a provider that has people with great attitudes is often the magic ingredient that either makes or breaks a business relationship. Don’t discount the importance of finding a provider who loves what they do and is excited to work with you and help you grow.
How to Find a CPA for a Small Business
We often hear small business owners talk about needing to find a CPA for their business. While it may make sense to be looking for a CPA, more often than not, what they are really looking for is someone who can help them with their ongoing accounting needs and help deliver the information they need to make informed business decisions on a day-to-day basis. That person may or may not be a CPA. As we mentioned above, a CPA is a great choice when it comes to compliance work like preparing tax returns or providing an annual audit. The classic mistake we see a lot of small business owners make is hiring a local CPA to provide outsourced accounting services. It is a little bit like going to your family doctor when you have a heart condition. They really are two different skill sets, and you should understand what you are looking for before you go searching. A reputable outsourced accounting services firm will provide on-going accounting support and their team members will become an important part of your team.
Another question we often hear from small business owners is, “What is the average cost of a CPA for a small business?” Most of the time, what they really want to know is what it costs to get ongoing accounting support and strategic advice for their business. Basic outsourced accounting services range between $250 and $2,000 per month depending on the volume of transactions and the complexity of services. We recommend a discovery call with a reputable outsourced accounting firm to define a scope of services and get a better understanding of the costs. You should also find a firm that will provide a customized fixed fee quote, so you know exactly what you are going to pay.
Lean on Milestone as your Outsourced Accounting Services Provider
We started Milestone because we recognized that small businesses and nonprofits need customized, cost-effective accounting solutions, and they are looking for a true partnership approach. If you’ve been searching for “outsourced accounting services near me,” there is no need to look further. Milestone is a local Indianapolis, Indiana accounting service firm with a national footprint.
We want to transform your back office and provide you with the expertise you need to get your business to the next level. We are an outsourced accounting firm that provides support in the areas of bookkeeping, monthly accounting, Chief Financial Officer services, cash flow forecasting, and accounting system design and implementation. We combine the latest cloud-based technology with experienced accountants to give you the information you need to make smart decisions, and the time you need to run your business.
We have strong core values that are more than just words, it’s who we are. We call them our Core4.
We are committed to do our best – for our clients, for each other, for our business, and for our community. With each client and project, we demonstrate this commitment by going the extra mile in everything we do, providing value that exceeds expectation, and helping one another realize our goals and potential. We also understand the importance of serving our community and strive to leave the world a little better than we found it.
Who we are is just as important as what we achieve. We approach each client and every situation with honesty, integrity, and a firm code of ethics. We “practice what we preach” and apply this same code of ethics to our interactions with each other.
We are passionate about our clients and the value we create for them, but that’s not the whole story. We also value and respect our own personal goals for growth and development. We believe the more well-rounded, engaged and, well, “balanced” we are, the better we’re able to help our clients and each other.
We have a deep respect and admiration for entrepreneurs. After all, we’re entrepreneurs ourselves. So, like the business leaders we work with, we are innovative, forward-thinking, and dedicated to creative problem-solving. We are leading the way in vetting new technology and providing expert guidance to our clients, all while creating a framework that allows us to grow and develop new leaders from within
These values form the foundation of our firm and serve to guide us in building relationships with clients, team members, and partners.
How your business operates is unique, and your accounting services should follow suit. At Milestone, we believe that every business, regardless of their size, should have access to the financial resources and expertise they need to help them achieve success.
Wherever your business is today, and wherever you want to go tomorrow, Milestone is here to help you take the right steps forward. Click here to learn more about the Milestone difference and unleash your back office.