As the end of the year approaches, new goals and dreams for next year take shape. But no matter how successful or disappointing 1997 was for you, you can't leave it behind yet--Uncle Sam won't let you forget. So begins your first business decision of the year: Do you keep your own business records and file your own returns or hire someone else?
"It's very difficult and time-consuming to keep up with all the new tax laws and technical jargon," says Peter Pfister, a CPA at Kurchin & Co. in Red Bank, New Jersey. "By hiring a professional, the business owner can better use his or her talents to the fullest and concentrate on growing the business."
It's an important decision; don't make the mistake of doing the job badly or hiring the wrong person to do it for you.
Assuming you've resolved to seek help, you're ready for your next task: where and how to find a CPA. One of the best ways to narrow your selection is through referrals. These can come from anyone you trust--a friend or a coworker you respect or your attorney, banker or chamber of commerce. "Calling your local CPA society or scanning the Web can also uncover good sources," Pfister says. "If you know your business is going to grow, don't wait until you can't handle it yourself."
Conrad Theodore, a freelance writer in Lake Forest, Illinois, has been a home-office entrepreneur since 1993.