In Pursuit of Profit
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Finding an accountant for a startup company can be extremely challenging because new companies typically do not have the same cash reserves that more established companies do. This pain point is shared by small businesses everywhere but can be exacerbated by the perceptions around startups.
As the owner of a startup company, hiring an accountant can be a difficult task to undertake. Use these tips to find an experienced accountant to help get your startup off the ground:
Understand the Challenges
Accountants are naturally risk-averse group, which makes joining a newly emerging startup a harder sell than simply doing accounting for a small business. The best accountants are typically looking for a clearly defined role where their value is understood and there are resources to support their work. In many startup environments some or all of these criteria may be missing due to the fast-paced nature of their work.
Additionally, startups are often comprised of a small, closely-knit group of staff (some of which may be friends or family and perhaps not have the same degree of business savvy that your typical executive-level leadership would demonstrate). This can influence how they spend their money, making an accountant’s role more difficult to execute effectively and their future more precarious. Accountants may wonder, “What if this company runs out of money and closes up shop tomorrow? How will I support myself or my family while I look for another job?” As a result, accountants may prefer to work with more established companies because their history in business makes them more of a known commodity.
Lastly, accounting for a startup business can have its own intricacies depending on where the company was formed and its industry. These unique startup accounting requirements require an accountant with the right skillset, making finding the right fit even more challenging.
Prioritize Needs Instead of Wants
Have you ever seen a job description that is just a laundry list of skills, experiences, qualifications, characteristics, and personality traits that describe an unattainable “unicorn” candidate? We have!
Do you know what happens when your job description looks like that? Our colleague Jen Girard at CFO Selections describes a situation where her client was looking for a finance superhero and waited 12 months without getting a single applicant that was qualified for the role before finally re-envisioning their expectations. That is not a good position to be in!
Sure, there is nothing wrong with envisioning what your ideal candidate would look like, internally. But what you need to understand is that for every new criterion you include in the job description externally you are:
So, instead of elaborating on everything you would like a candidate to have, focus on what you need a candidate to have. The goal is to keep the pool of applicants large enough that you have a qualified group of candidates to evaluate but small enough that you can do so expeditiously. Additionally, you want to keep costs under control after hiring the candidate in your critical early years by only paying for what you truly need.
For instance, you likely do not need to require that candidates have a CPA license if you are a small private company or newly emerging startup. In the case of CPAs, hiring a CPA when what you actually need is a bookkeeper or staff accountant results in overpaying for the role in a way that can stymie future growth.
Use a Recruiter
An accounting recruiter can help you hone your job description to set you up for success when hiring an accountant. These specialized recruiting professionals understand both sides of the hiring equation: the employer side that wants to attract top talent for their role as well as the applicant side that wants to find the best match to ensure their success in the role. As such, a recruiting company that specializes in accounting and finance positions is the best sounding board for determining what you actually need, and which wants you can reasonably expect to find for your budget.
Find out more about how we can help you hire an accountant today!