When you are thinking about how you should choose an accountant for your creative business there are a lot of things to consider and it can seem to be a daunting prospect.

Creatives, as the name suggests, are all very individual and they all work in different ways. This means that for the relationship to be successful, the accountant needs to understand each individual enterprise and be flexible enough to make sure that the service they offer meets the needs of the client.

Choosing the right accountancy firm to work with is naturally a really important step and one where you may feel you need a little guidance.

So in this piece, we are looking at the individual aspects of the accountant/creative relationship and what you should be looking for, whether you are a sole trader graphic designer or a multi-company full-service enterprise.

In this article, we will cover;

  • The basics
  • The good stuff
  • Good to great
  • How to find a great accountant

The Basics

Any creative business will need some basic work done and this is the meat and drink for any good accountancy practice. Typical basic bookkeeping tasks that a creative business might need doing include;

  • Recording payments
  • Issuing invoices
  • Recording receipts
  • Producing standard reports from a system
  • Running a standard payroll

You can think of these as the base of the accounting pyramid. They are simple to do, there are a lot of them and they are incredibly important because if you get them wrong then all of the other higher-level functions like producing a set of accounts will be inaccurate.

So it is really important that you don’t skimp on this step. Remember – you get what you pay for!

The Good Stuff

So now that we have a bookkeeping platform for our accounts we need to add on some slightly more complex things.

You’ll need to produce a set of accounts each year. If you are a limited company then you’ll need to submit these to Companies House and HMRC. Annoyingly your statutory accounts and your tax return can be different due to the differing rules that HMRC and Companies House run!

In terms of payroll, there are end of year tasks like producing P60s and submitting an FPS (Final Payment Submission).

In an ideal world, your accountant will produce a set of management accounts for you monthly or quarterly that will tell you how your business is doing.

At this level an accountant is very much a responsive person, reacting to things you ask for rather than suggesting what you should be looking at, although some practices may produce a checklist of things you need to do and when you need to do them.

The Good to Great

So for a creative business, what moves an accountant from good to great?

In our opinion, the single most important thing is if you can talk to your accountant and they understand what you are saying.

You get on well, they understand your business and they are able to explain things in everyday language without resorting to annoying acronyms or arcane accounting terms.

A great accountant will also be proactive. They will explain what you should be looking for in the numbers, highlight good and bad trends and they will suggest ways that you can improve your business, your reporting, and your understanding.

A great accountant will be able to produce management reports that are easily understandable and highlight the really important things you need to think about. They will also be able to produce forecasts for you to show what the future looks like.

Creatives typically find themselves working on discrete projects for clients and a great accountant will be able to run project accounting for you so you can see exactly which are most profitable and which ones need to be dropped.

They’ll also be able to advise you on the best way to organise your business. For example is it best to have people working for you on PAYE or should you hire subcontractors?

And of course, a great accountant will also help you organise your affairs so that you pay only the tax due and no more.

How to find a great accountant

We like to think that great accountants are rare, that’s why we go out of our way to make sure we fit right into that select group!

Our first piece of advice is to ask around. You’ll find that fellow business owners are only too happy to tell you about their accountant and whether they are any good or not.

Secondly, make sure the practice you are thinking of using is really an accountant. Surprisingly anyone can call themselves an accountant without ever having taken a single exam! We are a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants which means that we had to pass a lot of exams and comply with a wide variety of requirements to prove our quality.

Arguably the best tip is to pick up the phone and speak with the practice concerned. Are they approachable? Can you speak with them like a human? Do they make you feel at ease? We like to think that one of our biggest assets is our approachability and the fact that we are happy to talk you through any aspect of finance and business.

Looking for a great accountant for your creative business – you’ve already found one!

In summary, we’d say that choosing an accountant for a creative business is an incredibly important decision and one that is worth taking a little time over.

You’ll want to find someone who can do the basics well, has good systems in place, and can produce top quality, accurate work.

Naturally, your accountant should take care of your accounts production and submission to HMRC and Companies House and they should handle all of your reporting for payroll.

But a really great accountant will almost act as a partner, working proactively with you to make your creative business better, suggesting improvements, and helping you navigate any choppy waters you come across.

We’d like to think that we are all of these things and more so why not take the first step and give us a call. We can tell you a bit more about us and we’d love to learn more about what you do.

Call us now on 01737 652 221 or click here for more information on how we can support your creative business.