5 Things to Look for in a CPA for Your Startup

Jan 20, 2022


As a tech startup founder, you’re keenly aware that your finances can make or break everything. That can make finding a CPA feel particularly stressful.

Honestly, it’s a good area in which to exercise some care. Putting in the time and effort to find a CPA who’s a good fit for your business, your communication preferences, and your vision for the future can make a major difference. The right CPA can help you scale and keep work off your desk. The wrong one can create headaches at every turn.

We don’t want to stress you out. Finding the ideal CPA for your startup isn’t an impossible task. Look for these things, and you’ll be able to rest easy knowing you’ve made the right choice. 

#1: A good track record

A history of quality work speaks for itself. Positive reviews from past and current clients say three things. First, they speak to the CPA’s competency, a pretty critical piece. Secondly, they indicate that you’re going to get at least a decent bang for your buck. People and products don’t get stellar reviews if consumers think they’re overpriced.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a good track record says a lot about what you can expect from your experience with your CPA. Generally, people expect CPAs to be able to do the work for which they’re hired. Positive testimonials show that the CPA can go above and beyond the basics, delivering service and care for that client. They speak to the intangibles that you won’t be able to see on a CPA’s website or pricing sheet. 

All told, before you hire a CPA, ask to see some testimonials and check their reviews online. If they can’t show you any and they didn’t open up shop extremely recently, head the other direction. 

#2: Expertise in your field

You know better than anyone that founding and scaling a tech startup is specialized work. That’s especially true on the financial front, where investors and/or shareholders can complicate things.

Not all CPAs are equipped to handle the unique needs of tech startups. You might think that large accounting firms would have at least someone with the expertise you need, but they all too often try to fit you into a predetermined formula. 

To ensure you get the services you need — and recommendations that can make a big difference as you scale — it pays to look for a CPA with measurable experience in the startup field. If they understand tech companies, all the better. 

Let’s use a specific example here. A good tech startup CPA should know that your company may qualify for a potentially significant R&D tax credit, and they should be able to help you maximize it. Of course, a run-of-the-mill CPA might not be familiar with this savings opportunity, but someone with tech experience would be remiss if they didn’t explore it with you. 


#3: Quick response times

There’s perhaps nothing more annoying than reaching out to your CPA with a question, then waiting, and waiting. And asking again, and waiting again. 

It’s not a situation you want to find yourself in. Your time is valuable, and prompt guidance from your CPA empowers you to make informed decisions as you grow your startup. Choose a CPA with a penchant for getting back to you ASAP. 

On that note, it can be helpful to crosscheck your and your potential CPA’s communication preferences. For example, if you hate phone calls, but they historically handle most of their business over the phone, that’s something you want to know on the frontend. A good CPA should adapt to your preferred communication channel(s). 

#4: A personalized approach

In the same way, tech startups are unique from other business types; your startup is probably very different from other growing tech businesses, even your closest competitor. Your CPA should know that, and they should tailor their services and guidance to your specific needs and goals.

If you plan to scale internationally or bring on foreign investors, for example, your CPA should be ready to handle the tax implications of those moves. 

Similarly, if you have a specific portfolio of software with which you work, your CPA should be willing to jump in there rather than push you to an alternative solution. Or, at the very least, they should find a way to make their bookkeeping/accounting software integrate with yours. 

Ultimately, the right CPA for your tech startup should make your life easier, not harder. And that means they need to take the time to understand your specifications and preferences so they can work in line with them. 

#5: The services you need

It might seem basic, but not all accountancy firms offer the same services. For example, some only provide tax filing preparation, while others offer a full suite of services, from bookkeeping to tax services. 

Even if you plan to handle your books in-house in your seed stage phase, you don’t necessarily want to have to find an entirely new company to handle your financial needs as your startup grows. As a result, it can be helpful to think through the services you anticipate needing over the next several years. If you think you might want to start outsourcing your bookkeeping services once you have sufficient funding, for example, you would probably benefit from choosing a CPA with that on offer. 

Long story short, a little foresight now can save you a lot of legwork and paperwork down the road. That’s true of your whole CPA hunt in general. It might feel like it requires a lot of your focus, but the ROI is high. Once you find a good fit, you should be able to apply a set-it-and-forget-it mentality, freeing you up moving forward. 

If you’re not sure which services you’ll need, we can help. Our ShayCPA team can assist with answering any questions you might have to make your CPA search easier. We can also provide you with testimonials and give you a rundown of our track record of helping tech startups flourish. To get in touch, fill out our contact form, email us at [email protected], or give us a call at (347) 292-7516.