When surveyed about key factors that led to their success, most small business owners singled out the selection of a good accountant as the most important asset. This resource was found to be a common factor for businesses that were acquired from a previous owner, inherited from a family member, or founded as a startup.

This survey of small business owners also uncovered fourteen important qualities (mentioned below), which were identified as the top traits shared by successful small business accountants:

1. An advisor and a business partner

These accountants provided much more than simple records of transactions and yearly tax filing services.

Successful small business accountants partnered with business owners in driving the strategy of the business, with well-constructed business plans and monthly face-to-face sessions supported by valuable data analysis.

2. Monthly financial statements

These accountants used sophisticated systems and processes to generate monthly financial statements for the following:

  • Profit & Loss
  • Balance Sheet
  • Cash Flow
  • Bank Reconciliation

They were also able to provide data in real-time through systems based on cloud computing and assisted by artificial intelligence.

3. Expert planners with a strategic mindset

These accountants had the business experience and the professional background to think Strategically. They also provided valuable advice on long-term business plans, structure for pricing, volume analysis, sales channels selection, fixed and variables costs analysis, and the precise calculation of taxes.

4. Advanced tax planning

One valuable by-product of monthly financial statements, meetings, and a strategic mindset is that the accountant and the business owners were able to discuss and execute tax strategies fairly in advance and generate substantial savings.

5. Cash flow-focused

Monitoring and projecting advanced cash flow is like monitoring the lifeblood of the business. Profits do not necessarily translate into much needed cash. A close monitoring of bank reconciliations on a monthly, if not a daily basis, is another key process that good accountants and businesses will follow.

6. Analytical mind

One of the most appreciated traits of a successful accountant — which leads to good advice and follow-up — is an analytical mind that is trained to generate and interpret pertinent information. This analytical mind provides the ability to spot any telling signs or trends that would otherwise escape the layman.

7. Professionally qualified & knowledgeable

It almost goes without saying, but a professionally qualified and trained accountant is a necessity, if you want to be successful. Professional qualifications show that the accountant knows how to maintain high professional standards and ethical conduct in all matters, in addition to possessing a deep understanding of numbers, rules, regulations, and laws.

8. Works with the latest technologies

Technology is developing at an astonishing rate, with cloud computing, artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies forming a substantial part of the accounting ecosystem.

Today’s accountant must be comfortable working with these technologies to help grow your revenue faster, track costs better, help choose the right inventory systems, and so on.

9. Access to other small business service providers

Small business owners need access to the same professionals that their larger counterparts use to run their business, (i.e bankers, foreign exchange traders, lawyers, and wealth managers). Great accountants will usually partner with these professionals, especially those catering to small businesses. Your accountant should be able to refer you to these types of service providers when you need them.

10. Cost management and investment monitoring

A good accountant understands the delicate balance that the small business owner must maintain between reducing waste and investing to boost future revenues. A good accounting partner will be able to help a small business owner measure the cost of those additional investments or the impact of reducing costs.

11. Succession planning capabilities

At a certain stage of the business lifecycle, small business owners will face the decision to either go public, name heirs to the business, or sell it. A professional accountant can help with the selection of professional valuation firms, the IPO process, or simply assist in transitioning the business legally and financially to the heirs.

12. Corporate structuring

As a business partner who has access to the market, and the inner workings of other successful businesses, the accountant is usually in a position to recommend changes to the business’s corporate structure that would further boost growth or stem any loss of revenue.

13. Debt planning

At a certain stage of growth, all businesses may require access to banking channels, debt markets, and other lenders to either enhance capital or borrow on short and long terms. This is especially true for start-up businesses. A great accountant has connections in the marketplace and will be able to access these funds or make recommendations to the business owner.

14. Acquisition as a growth strategy

In some instances, small businesses hit a plateau, in terms of growth, where organic business growth strategy is simply not an option. During their career, a successful accountant has usually worked on an acquisition and will understand what is required in terms of due diligence, purchase, bedding the acquisition, and so on. In an ideal situation, they will have handled the complete acquisition cycle and can work with a team of professionals to identify the right fit for their client.

Looking for an accountant who fits the above traits? Book a consultation with the team at Clearwater to see if we’d be a good fit for your business.