6 Skills to Look for in a Small Business Accountant

Accountants are important employees for companies of every size, but they’re especially important for small businesses. Since every dollar counts towards establishing and maintaining your financial health, you need an accounting professional who’s well-versed in the ins and outs of small business finance. But with thousands of certified accountants in the job market, how do you know which one you should hire?

Read on to learn the importance of hiring a small business accountant, which skills to look for, and more.

Why Do You Need a Small Business Accountant?

Accountants can provide a wide range of services. These include bookkeeping, tax preparation, financial statement preparation, budgeting, financial forecasting, and financial analysis. They can also assist with compliance matters such as filing tax returns.

These are just the basic (but essential) capabilities that make accountants vital employees, but small business accountants are especially important. Accidental non-compliance with accounting and tax-related regulations can be extremely costly. Your small business could be significantly set back without a professional to help you avoid those penalties.

Whether you’re hiring temporary accounting support for tax season or a full-time employee, your small business accountant needs to have certain skills and expertise to effectively safeguard your company’s financial health and avoid costly accounting mistakes. Let’s review!

Soft Skills to Look for in a Small Business Accountant

Don’t get too caught up on screening your accounting candidates for hard skills only. Soft skills are important too! They speak to someone’s ability to work and communicate with others, think strategically, and more. So, what are the necessary soft skills to look for in your small business accounting candidate?


Accountants must be able to maintain accurate and organized financial records. This includes keeping track of invoices, receipts, and other financial documents. Organizational skills help ensure that these records are easy to access and understand.

Organizations skills will also help your small business accountant meet deadlines. Tax laws and regulations require businesses to file reports and tax returns by specific dates. An organized accountant will have all the necessary information and documentation to file these reports on time.


A successful accountant is good with more than just numbers; they’re great at communication, too. And since a small business accountant spends a lot of time presenting complex information to people without a financial background, it’s imperative that they’re able to communicate the information in a clear and concise manner.

Strong Ethical Standards

Accountants sometimes have access to sensitive financial information. This is why it’s important your accounting hire has strong ethical standards and the ability to maintain confidentiality. This is especially true for smaller businesses, as you likely don’t have an entire team of employees dedicated to compliance like large corporations do.


Hard Skills to Look for in a Small Business Accountant

Now that we’ve established the most important soft skills to look for in your small business accountant candidates, let’s review the necessary hard skills.

Expertise in Accounting Software

Very few businesses have the space to store physical copies of every receipt, expense report, or other financial statement produced throughout the year. This is why efficiency in small business accounting software, like QuickBooks and Xero, is a must-have skill. Hiring someone with the ability to create invoices, pay bills, track expenses, prepare taxes, and even assist you with managing payroll in one space can help you:

  • Ensure compliance. Since many accounting software packages are designed to ensure compliance with accounting principles and regulations like the ones mentioned above, you’re likely to avoid certain penalties and fines associated with non-compliance.
  • Save time. By hiring someone who can automate those time-consuming accounting tasks, you’re giving them more space to focus on bigger picture financial items. This includes budgeting, helping you modify your business plan, and more.

Data Analysis

Your small business accountant needs to collect and store your business’s financial data, but they also need to be able to extract meaningful information from that data. Is your business model sustainable under its current revenue growth? What changes need to be made—and where—if not? An accountant with great data analysis skills can help you answer these questions with confidence.

Familiarity with Accounting Principles and Regulations

A strong understanding of accounting principles and regulations is essential for accountants. They should be familiar with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), as well as tax laws and regulations.

General Industry Knowledge

An accountant with experience in your industry can identify key financial metrics unique to your business and thus provide relevant advice. It’s not the most important qualification to look for in a small business accountant, but your business will likely see the benefits.

Get Started on Hiring a Small Business Accountant

Hiring a small business accountant with the right skills and expertise is the first step in ensuring your company maintains its financial health. Still, it can be hard to take that first step.

If you’re unsure where to start or what other skills to look for, let us help you! Our recruiters can provide you with talented, experienced, and certified accounting professionals within two weeks.

Need help finding talented employees? Visit Insight Global's Staffing Services page to get started.