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Can an Accountant Help Start a Small Business?

November 28th, 2022 | 7 min. read

By Bryan Cremeen

As a new or aspiring small business owner, it can be overwhelming trying to get all of the behind-the-scenes pieces together. When you have questions, it’s nice to have a professional to help you. Is an accountant the advisor you’re looking for?

At CSI Accounting & Payroll, we have more than 50 years of experience in advising new businesses. Here, we address the questions you should ask your accountant when starting a small business, and we take a deeper look at some of the things an accountant may be able to help you with, including:

  • Setting up a chart of accounts
  • Finding the right accounting software
  • Selecting the best entity structure
  • Establishing payroll needs

How Can an Accountant Help Set Up a Chart of Accounts?

A chart of accounts doesn’t keep track of numbers as your books would. It lists out all of the different categories that will later appear on your profit & loss statements or balance sheets.

When your accountant helps you set this up, they will first find out what kind of business you’re running. They will then set up some common expense and income categories for businesses like yours before diving into the conversation more to discover your unique categories. Be prepared to discuss loans, equipment, liabilities, and much more!

How Can an Accountant Help Pick Software?

It’s no secret that QuickBooks has a large majority of the accounting software market share. However, this doesn’t mean it’s the most ideal software brand for everyone - plus, there are different versions of it!

An accountant will narrow down your options to find the most ideal software for your business by asking you what you need your software to do. For example, a retail business is going to need software that works well with inventory. Read about CSI’s software preferences here.

How Can an Accountant Choose My Entity Structure?

There are three main entity structures: sole proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations. You can also be an LLC. Selecting your ideal entity means you minimize your tax liability; you’re structured in a way that’s most tax-advantageous to you.

Much like discussing your chart of accounts and software, an accountant is going to ask you some questions. They need to know details, including but not limited to:

  • The size of your business
  • How fast you expect it to grow
  • Whether or not it’s making money yet
  • How many owners there are
  • If you own your workspace or rent it
  • What your business goals are

How Can an Accountant Set Up Payroll?

This may be a misleading question. An accountant doesn’t set up payroll; they typically help you establish whether you need payroll yet or not. If you do need payroll, they may be able to refer you to a payroll service, though!

To find out if you need payroll set up, they will help you determine if your workers (if you have any) should be classified as employees or independent contractors. They will also ask you if you’re making any money yet. If you’re not ready for payroll yet, that doesn’t mean you won’t be successful.

If you work with CSI Accounting & Payroll, we’re able to set up your payroll in our payroll department. We have accounting and payroll under one roof!

What Questions Should I Ask My Accountant When Starting a Small Business?

You should ask your accountant all of the questions addressed in this article, as well as some of our favorites:

  • How do I let the government know I’m starting a business? How do I register with the IRS and the state?
  • How much money do I need to get my business off the ground?
  • Do I have to charge sales tax to my customers?
  • How should I pay my employees? How do I set up payroll taxes?
  • What are all of the things I have to do to stay in compliance with the federal, state, and local government?
  • Can you help me make an estimated profit & loss statement so I can get a loan from my bank?

Should I Work With a Monthly Accountant as a Startup?

It depends. There comes a time when monthly accounting is the best option for all businesses - but you have to get there first!

You may be ready to consider monthly accounting as a startup if you: 

  • Are well-funded with your own money or an SBA loan
  • Will develop from a job into a business
  • Have potential and desire to grow in size and into the $350k+ revenue range (to get the right value out of the relationship)
  • Read and understood the ways that an accountant may be able to help you set up a chart of accounts, find the right accounting software, select the best entity structure, and establish your payroll needs

If you’re ready to have a conversation about if we can be a good match, click the button below to schedule a free consultation!


Not ready to talk? That's okay! You can read more about when to get a startup accounting service first.

Bryan Cremeen

Bryan joined CSI Accounting in 2019. He joined the team after CSI purchased his accounting firm, AccountSource LLC, which he had owned since 2005. He graduated from St. Cloud State in 2001 with a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting and has been an Enrolled Agent since 2010. Before owning his own accounting practice, Bryan had worked at the State of MN handling financial reporting and had been in private industry as a Controller. His primary responsibilities include overseeing the accounting department and making sure clients are receiving quality service. Fun Fact: Bryan has played soccer since the age of 4. He still plays soccer year round through various adult leagues and is an avid supporter of the Minnesota United MLS soccer team. COYL!!! (Come on, you Loons!!!)