14 Things to Consider Before Hiring a Part Time Accountant

part time accountant

As an entrepreneur, you should be worried about running your business, not organizing your finances. That said, even a small financial misstep or oversight can really hurt your company. That’s why we asked 14 members from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:

“I’m thinking of hiring a parttime person to manage finances. What is one thing I should do to ensure this is a successful option for my company?”

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

1. Trust but Verify

“First, don’t hire someone based on their cost. This is your money you’re talking about. If someone is charging significantly less than everyone else, there’s a reason why. Second, you need to hire someone to verify the work of the first party. Nothing keeps a consultant honest like peer review.” ~ Lane Campbell, June

2. Make Sure Their Power Has Limitations

“The person doing your bookkeeping entries must not have the power to write checks or spend money. The people who are allowed to spend money cannot alter their purchase entries in your accounting system. If you ever set up a structure where one person can cover up their commute or nail salon expenditures, you’ve got a recipe for disaster. The temptation is just too high for most people.” ~ Wei-Shin Lai, M.D.AcousticSheep LLC

3. Test Their Digital Savvy

Before I found my current CFO, I worked with a money manager who wanted to do things the “old school” way and just wasn’t understanding the online tools and technology I used to automate bookkeeping and financial tasks. In hiring a new person for the role, I tested technical savvy and familiarity with online tools and systems and I ended up with someone perfect for our business.” ~ Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World

4. Evaluate Your Needs

“If your monthly spend is less than $10,000, keep your fixed costs low and hire a professional bookkeeper. If you have more than 10 employees and some revenue or external capital, it’s advisable to loop in an experienced CPA who will function as a parttime controller. If you are a high-growth startup and need a strategic financial advisor who will go beyond the month-end close, search for a parttime CFO.” ~ Vishal Shah, NoPaperForms

5. Pair Software and Industry Knowledge

Hiring a parttime person to manage finances might not be the best idea as contracting can likely get you better and scalable talent. If you are set on this, look for someone who knows the software platform that you have. That can be a big issue. Industry knowledge is great, but not super important in most cases. Lastly, check all their references.” ~ Josh SpragueOrange Mud

6. Set Up a Regular Schedule to Check In

“When starting to work with a parttime finance person for your business, make sure that you set up a regular cadence for checking in. It is important to organize your finances in an ongoing way to avoid getting backlogged during crunch times for reporting, taxes or fundraising. Bi-weekly or monthly works best, depending on how much work you are outsourcing.” ~Doreen BlochPoshly Inc.

7. Be Up Front with Their Responsibilities

“If you are hiring someone parttime, there has to be a clear job description and tasks to accomplish. It’s important for them to have a defined role so they aren’t stretched too thin. Additionally, set up and stick to a regular check in schedule. You must be in the know about what is going on with your books.” ~ Lindsay Pinchuk, Bump Club and Beyond

8. Don’t Do Business with Relatives

“Stay away from hiring non-financial family members. Many people look to their family to help with finances because they think they are going to save money and that they can trust family members. However, having inaccurate books or not setting up and maintaining budgets, spells trouble. Hire the most talented person you can find who has the experience and know-how you need.” ~ Marjorie AdamsFourlane

9. Partner Up with an Expert

“If you’re working with someone part time, make sure they are closely working with a financial advisor, business consultant, or CPA who can advise them on the best way to organize your finances. Let an expert guide your parttime employee to make sure your finances are being maximized and properly organized. It’s easy to create chaos with finances without proper guidance. Involve an expert!” ~ Marcela DeVivoNational Debt Relief

10. Communicate Clearly

“Whenever you hire someone to work with you on your business, you need to have open and clear lines of communication. That includes letting them know exactly what you need and require, as well as what their responsibilities are from the start. The earlier you can establish great communication, the faster you will be able to build trust and have a great working relationship.” ~ Sean Ogle, Location 180, LLC

11. Don’t Skimp

“This person is managing one of the most important aspects of your business. Pay them what they’re worth. If you get an offer from a potential hire that seems too low, that’s usually a sign of inexperience and can — in some cases — be an indicator of competency. Don’t skimp! Spend the extra you need to hire an expert and don’t entrust your finances to anything less.” ~ Blair Thomas, EMerchantBroker

12. Make Sure They Understand Your Industry

“If you’re looking for truly value-add finance support, make sure the candidate understands your industry and business model. Don’t hesitate to ask them what they think of your industry and your specific business model. If they can’t tell you something you don’t know already, (specific tax code, financing options), that’s a yellow flag.” ~ Fan Bi, Blank Label

13. Plan Ahead

“Be specific on duties. What are you handling as founder/owner and what they will be handling? Make sure they are clear on what reports they have access to, who they can divulge confidential information to, what is expected in terms of payroll, liabilities, payments, authorizations, deposits, forecasting and other specific duties.” ~ Peter BoydPaperStreet Web Design

14. Know Your Business

“It’s important that you know your business when it comes to cash flow, expenses, market forces, etc. Build a dashboard with tasks that you would like yourparttime resource or contracted company to provide you with on a monthly basis apart from the usual deliverables. Personally onboard the person/contracted company and share the challenges and your concerns. Be on same page for tools, policies, process and expectations.” ~ Shilpi Sharma, Kvantum Inc.

Accountant Photo via Shutterstock

The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.