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Staffing and Employment

What type of accounting business do you have or want? Several types exist, from general accounting to areas specializing in payroll or taxes. Clients also differ in type, as well as the methods for conducting and transacting business (face to face versus “virtual,” for example). Your choice of accountancy practice and the kind of clients you serve will greatly influence the shape of your career.

General accounting might include things like cash flow planning, reconciling bank accounts, doing AP (paying bills and tracking expenses), AR (invoicing and collection), fixed asset management, budgeting, cash flow analysis and planning, financial reporting and analysis, providing complete and accurate year-end records for tax preparation, etc. Specialized accounting firms do things like taxes, payroll, inventory management, long-term financial planning (business and personal), etc.

Unless you have a clear idea of what your accounting business’ “sweet spot” is or will become, it will be difficult for you to plan and build for the future, including determining the number and types of people and skill sets you will need to support your book of business. Also, you will need to decide if you want a covey of generalists who can do almost everything, or if you will employ specialists because you need a greater depth of knowledge, training, education and skills in a particular finance/accounting discipline.

Finding and Hiring Staff

Do you want or need to invest in a bricks-and-mortar office for work purposes? Or, is your anticipated book of business one that will require a list of independent contractors working remotely that you call upon when needed and pay by project or negotiated consulting fee?

In today’s business environment, it is probably best to minimize the number of full-time employees on your payroll. Not only do you have a number of tax obligations (social security, Medicare, unemployment, etc.), but legislation requiring paid benefits continues to place the burden of things like medical insurance, paid days off for sick leave, paid holidays, etc. squarely on the backs of business owners.

Once you have defined the talent you need (either on an on-going or project/client basis), it is time to assemble the folks who will assist you in achieving your business objectives. Unless you are looking for full-time specialized talent (i.e., tax, payroll), most degreed accountants have received the training they need to do the full-range of basic accounting tasks. Virtually every college or university offers a degree in accounting/finance, and college enrollment in this discipline continues to provide a steady stream of people with the requisite accounting skills.

In today’s world, it is imperative to make sure that every person you hire is fully trained and fluent at using today’s virtual workplace tools. This training should include knowing how to maintain the integrity of e-files, e-storage and all forms of communication medium so that the integrity of your clients’ information is uncompromised.

If you have embraced the consulting/part-time model of providing the staff your business needs, you might target segments of the population that could be interested in continuing to work but for whom a life change has taken them out of the normal 9-to-5 workforce. New parents who must provide their own childcare might be amenable to flexible, part-time employment. So might persons who have just retired but who don’t want to get out of the workforce completely. Another alternative might be to enlist the help of a highly skilled accountant who happens to be offshore. In today’s virtual world, many tasks are accomplished half way around the world while our half of the world sleeps. Of course, if your business is being a “Certified Public Accounting” firm, there may be some legal and practical limitations on the ability to use people trained outside the country.

With today’s social media, using your list of key contacts by letting them know you have a specific employment need will probably satisfy your talent search faster than you can imagine. If you use your search engine to query “employment agencies near {zip code},” not only will you get names of a variety of hiring agencies who can relatively quickly provide you with suitable candidates but you will also see a number of boards on which you may post your job opening at virtually no cost.

Please refer to Human Resource information for further suggestions and ideas on finding and hiring employees and staff.