An accountant performs many roles in a startup business:
- Entity Choice and Creation: Along with your attorney an accountant can help you choose an entity and set up a business plan, and help you locate sources of funding.
- Audits: You may need a CPA to perform an audit.
- Tax Planning: An accountant can help you ensure you receive available tax deductions and credits, and reduce your long term tax burden.
- Bookkeeping for payroll, accounts payable and receivable, and the general ledger.
Depending on the size of your business, you may not need a full time accountant as you start out. Many accounting firms are able to provide basic accounting services as needed. As your business grows, it may require the attention of a full-time internal accountant.
It is important that your financial records and statements are accurate, particularly if you hope to sell your company, obtain venture capital funding, or take it public. An accountant will also ensure that items such as intellectual property are properly recorded. A strong foundation will help ensure things run smoothly later on.
Additionally, avoiding problems with taxes and choosing the proper entity can save you time and money in the future.
An accountant that has experience working with startup businesses will be able to be of most service to you due to his or her knowledge and expertise. He or she may also be able to provide referrals to other qualified professionals as you need them.
You are unlikely to need a lawyer when hiring an accountant. However, your accountant and your lawyer might work together on many of the tasks above, such as tax planning, entity choice, and selling the company. You may want to consult a business attorney if you have questions about those areas.