125 Questions to Ask an Accountant When Starting a Business

Starting a business? Exciting times, right? But let’s face it, the numbers game can be a real head-scratcher. But don’t worry! Your accountant is like a GPS for all those financial twists and turns. You have to ask the right questions to make sure you’re on the path to success.

So, whether it’s about taxes, business structure, or how to make your business bigger and better, we’ve got a list of questions to get you sorted. Let’s dive in!

Business Structure and Setup

  1. What business structure would be most tax-efficient for my startup?
  2. How does the chosen business structure impact my personal liability?
  3. Are there specific financial advantages or disadvantages of each business structure?
  4. How can I draw a salary from my business, and what are the implications?
  5. What accounting considerations are there for the business structure I choose?
  6. What financial information do I need to track for different business structures?
  7. Can my business structure affect my ability to raise funds or take out loans?
  8. How easy is it to change the business structure later if my company grows or pivots?
  9. Is incorporating my business the best option to protect personal assets?
  10. How does the business structure affect my control over the company?
  11. What documentation do I need to set up the business structure?
  12. Can you explain the difference between an S Corp and a C Corp?
  13. How is a Limited Liability Company (LLC) taxed differently than a sole proprietorship?
  14. Are there state-specific considerations for my business structure?
  15. How should I pay myself for my business?
  16. What kind of records must I maintain for my chosen business structure?
  17. How does my business structure impact my ability to hire employees or contractors?
  18. Is it beneficial to have a separate business entity for different aspects of my business?
  19. What are the initial costs associated with each type of business structure?
  20. How does the choice of business structure impact international business deals?
  21. What are the ongoing financial responsibilities for each business structure?
  22. How do different business structures handle profit distribution?
  23. What are the legal steps to formalizing my business structure?
  24. How long does the process take to establish each type of business structure?
  25. Can you provide guidance on drafting a partnership agreement or operating agreement?

Accounting Procedures and Systems

  1. What type of accounting system do you recommend for my business size and type?
  2. How often should I update my financial records?
  3. What essential accounting procedures should I have in place from day one?
  4. Can you help me set up my accounting software?
  5. Which accounting software platforms do you suggest for startups?
  6. How do I set up a chart of accounts for my business?
  7. What internal controls should I establish for financial management?
  8. What should I know about managing accounts payable and receivable?
  9. Can you explain cash-based accounting versus accrual-based accounting?
  10. How do I track my business expenses properly?
  11. What accounting records are crucial for tax purposes?
  12. How often should I reconcile my bank accounts?
  13. What is the best practice for managing invoices and receipts?
  14. How do I determine my startup costs, and how should I categorize them?
  15. How can I effectively track my inventory or cost of goods sold?
  16. Can you help me understand my financial statements?
  17. What is the difference between a balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement?
  18. How do I account for business assets and depreciation?
  19. What daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly bookkeeping tasks should I do?
  20. How do I calculate and handle payroll for employees?
  21. What are common accounting mistakes new businesses should avoid?
  22. How can I ensure my accounting procedures support my business goals?
  23. What processes should I have for auditing my business accounts?
  24. How do I prepare for year-end accounting and closing the books?
  25. What is the role of an accountant in my daily business operations?

Tax and Regulatory Compliance

  1. What are the key tax deadlines I need to be aware of for my new business?
  2. How can I minimize my business’s tax liability legally and effectively?
  3. Can you assist with identifying applicable tax deductions for my business?
  4. What types of taxes will I incur when running my business (e.g., sales tax, VAT, income tax)?
  5. Are there any industry-specific tax regulations I need to comply with?
  6. How do I file quarterly estimated taxes, and why are they important?
  7. What records do I need to maintain for tax purposes?
  8. Can you explain the tax implications of hiring employees vs. contractors?
  9. What are the tax consequences of business loans or investments?
  10. How do international transactions affect my tax situation?
  11. Are there tax credits available for startups that I might qualify for?
  12. What are the penalties for non-compliance with tax laws?
  13. How do I handle sales tax in different states or jurisdictions?
  14. What documentation is required for an IRS audit?
  15. How often should tax planning meetings be scheduled?
  16. What is the best way to manage payroll taxes for my business?
  17. Can you detail the steps for proper year-end tax planning?
  18. What are the tax implications if I decide to sell the business?
  19. Are there strategies to defer income and accelerate deductions for tax purposes?
  20. How does the structure of my business affect my personal tax return?
  21. Can you help me understand how to tax capital gains in my business?
  22. What are common tax filing errors that startups make?
  23. How does tax law change affect my business, and how do we stay compliant?
  24. What tax avoidance strategies are risky or could lead to legal issues?
  25. How can I be proactive in my tax planning to avoid surprises?

Financial Health, Forecasting, and Management

  1. What key financial metrics should I monitor for my startup?
  2. How do I create a financial forecast for my business plan?
  3. Can you help me set up a budget for my business?
  4. What is a cash flow projection, and why is it important?
  5. How should I manage my cash flow to ensure sufficient working capital?
  6. What ratios should I understand to assess the financial health of my business?
  7. How often should I review financial reports, and which reports are most critical?
  8. How do I set financial goals and benchmarks for my business?
  9. What strategies can help me improve my company’s profitability?
  10. How do I calculate the break-even point for my products or services?
  11. What are the warning signs that my business could be in financial trouble?
  12. How can I adjust my financial strategy in response to market changes?
  13. How do I manage growth and scale financially?
  14. What should I know about managing debt in my startup?
  15. What best practices should I follow for managing business credit?
  16. How does my personal credit affect my business financing options?
  17. How can I accurately determine the valuation of my business?
  18. What should I include in financial presentations to potential investors?
  19. How do I financially prepare my business for a potential economic downturn?
  20. How should I prioritize spending within my business?
  21. What financial information will banks need for a business loan application?
  22. How do I manage investor relations and reporting?
  23. How can I use financial data to drive business decisions?
  24. What should I know about equity financing and its implications on my financials?
  25. How can I secure funding while maintaining the financial health of my business?

Cost, Revenue, and Profit Maximization

  1. How can I effectively price my products or services to maximize profit?
  2. What are the best strategies to reduce overhead costs without sacrificing quality?
  3. How do I analyze the cost-efficiency of my business operations?
  4. What cost-cutting measures should I consider that won’t hurt the business?
  5. How do I implement a cost allocation system for multi-product or service businesses?
  6. What techniques can increase my revenue streams?
  7. How do I measure and improve the profitability of each product or service?
  8. Can you advise on the most tax-efficient way to extract profits from my business?
  9. What business expenses are often overlooked that I should monitor?
  10. How do I perform a break-even analysis for new products or services?
  11. What methods can I use to forecast sales accurately?
  12. How do I calculate the lifetime value of a customer, and why is this important?
  13. What are effective financial strategies to improve cash flow management?
  14. How can expense-tracking software improve my cost management?
  15. What practices can help maximize my return on investment for marketing campaigns?
  16. How do I determine if a budget cut will have a long-term impact on my business?
  17. What should I know about competitive pricing and market positioning?
  18. How do I identify and leverage high-margin items or services?
  19. What performance indicators should I track to ensure revenue growth?
  20. How can I optimize my supply chain to save costs?
  21. What strategies can I use to manage inventory costs efficiently?
  22. How do I negotiate better payment terms with suppliers to improve cash flow?
  23. Can you suggest ways to monetize underutilized business assets?
  24. What are common financial pitfalls in pricing strategies?
  25. How can I ensure my pricing model is adaptive to market changes and cost fluctuations?

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you assess an accountant?

To assess if an accountant is right for you, look at a few key things:

  1. Credentials: Make sure they’re certified and have the right training.
  2. Experience: Ask if they’ve worked with businesses like yours before.
  3. Communication: They should explain things in a way you understand. You should feel comfortable asking questions.
  4. Timeliness: They should get work done on time, especially important things like tax filings.
  5. Cost: Know what they charge and make sure it fits your budget.
  6. References: It’s a good sign if other people recommend them.
  7. Gut feeling: Sometimes, it’s about how comfortable you feel with them. You will share a lot of important information, so trust is key.

Remember, it’s okay to talk to a few different accountants before you make your choice.

How often should I meet with my accountant?

The frequency of meetings with your accountant can depend on your specific financial situation and needs. However, some businesses may find it adequate to meet with their accountant annually for tax purposes, while others might benefit from quarterly or even monthly meetings.

What tasks are accountants expected to perform?

Accountants can do a lot of different tasks to help your business. Here’s a quick rundown:

  1. Bookkeeping: This basically keeps track of all the money that comes in and goes out.
  2. Tax prep: They help you prepare for tax season, making sure you pay what you owe and find any tax breaks.
  3. Financial reports: They make reports that show how your business is doing. This is really helpful for planning.
  4. Budgeting: They can help you make a budget so you know what you can spend and where you can save.
  5. Payroll: If you have employees, an accountant can manage their paychecks and benefits.
  6. Legal stuff: They ensure you follow all the money and tax laws.
  7. Advice: They can give you tips on leasing or buying equipment, growing your business, and other big decisions.
  8. Audit support: If the tax folks want to check your records, an accountant can help you through that process.

Each accountant might offer different services, so it’s a good idea to ask what they can do for you.

Final Thoughts

Remember, asking the right questions can make all the difference in steering your business to success. Think of your accountant as your co-pilot in this adventure—there to help navigate the financial clouds and keep you soaring. So take this list with you, and make that meeting count.

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Robby is a multimedia editor at UpJourney with a journalism and communications background.

When she's not working, Robby transforms into an introverted art lover who indulges in her love for sports, learning new things, and sipping her favorite soda. She also enjoys unwinding with feel-good movies, books, and video games. She's also a proud pet parent to her beloved dog, Dustin.