What it takes to be a great small business accountant

Whether you are a small business owner looking to hire a professional accountant, or a young individual thinking of entering the accounting career path, it is always a good idea to find out more about small business accounting and the type of characteristics the providers of the service carry. There are various characteristics that make a small business accountant a trustworthy option for your all your financial and organisational needs. In just a few minutes of reading, find out more about what it takes to be a small business accountant and what you can expect from companies such as SureBooks when it comes to your small business’s financial requirements.

What qualifications are needed to become a small business accountant?

If you are thinking of entering the accounting field, with a special interest in small businesses, you ought to familiarise yourself with the qualifications and academic requirements necessary to attain the career. For those looking to learn more about small business accountants and their level of knowledge and credentials, the following information should get you up to speed.

The first phase of becoming a qualified accountant is registering with an accredited institution that offers either a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance or a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting. Any equivalent diplomas will suffice as well. In order to be a candidate for any of the above, hopeful candidates must have received adequate National Senior Certificate results that meet the prerequisite for the diploma or degree.

In order to become a professional and registered accountant, the degree of choice must be chosen from an institution accredited by the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA). Following this process, students must then complete a 3 year learnership at a relevant and accredited training centre – or alternatively, complete 6 years of experience that can be easily verified. Further, one must sit the SAIPA Professional Evaluations exam in order to exhibit your the skills and abilities needed to become an acceptable accountant.

Those entering universities to study accounting in some form will likely have required the passing and participation in the following subjects (which are also dependent on each institution of higher study):

  • Mathematics
  • Accounting
  • Business science
  • Economics
  • Information technology (recommended)

What qualities should be expected from a good small business accountant?

Many argue that having all the qualities that make up good small business accountants are quite rare to find in a person. People who thrive in the accounting field have a great love and talent of mathematics, are very detail-oriented as well have excellent organisational skills – as a base with which to start.

Mathematical whizzes

If you are considering entering the accounting field, or simply trying to learn more about small business accountants, be aware that an ardent love for mathematics, and a natural knack for it, is the foundation for any successful accountant. Numbers, facts and figures are the bread and butter of accountants all over the world. During university, accounting students may take some or all of the mathematical-related courses below:


A discipline concerning the collection and organisation of data, as well as analysis, interpretation and finally presentation of that data.


A branch of economics concerned with the performance, structure, behaviour and decision-making of an economy in its entirety. This includes global, national and regional economies.



A branch of economics that looks into the behaviour of individual people and firms when it comes to decision-making regarding the allocation of scarce resources – as well as the interactions between the two.

Applied maths for business or economics

Applied maths is the application of different mathematical methods based on a specific field – in this case, business or economics.

Financial accounting

The field of accounting that looks at summarising, analysing and reporting financial business-related transactions. This involves preparing financial statements to be made available for public use.

Accounting is all about numbers and money. Should one battle with these concepts they will undoubtedly struggle with studying for the career, let alone becoming a registered accounted. Should an accounting frequently make mathematical errors that cost clients money, they certainly will not be an accountant for very long.


Another incredibly important quality of an accountant, or an accountant-to-be, is being detail-oriented. This quality will need to endure throughout the workday, which is not as easy as it sounds. Most people are able to stay alert and focused for short periods during the day and can afford to let their minds drift off frequently. For a small company accountant, this is not the case.

Most full-time accountants will need to remain hyper-focused for hours on end. When unfocussed, using the wrong number or equation is easier than we like to believe. This is not acceptable in the industry as there is little room for error when it comes to finances. The detail-oriented approach and quality is what helps an accountant keep their work accurate to the very last detail.


Accountants often work more than 40 hours each week, meaning that if you are interested in entering this field, or are trying to get a feel for a company in the field, know that accountants are constantly confronted with more duties and tasks. However, do not let that fact scare you away from pursuing this path – as most accountants agree that they are able to handle their workloads, albeit quite stressful.


Managing a workload has a lot to do with being an organised person. Accountants cannot afford to put things off and letting work pile up or email folders fill to spilling point. Organisation also has a lot to do with prioritising. A good small company accountant will prioritise their client’s needs in order to maintain a happy level of satisfaction and reliability.


Since the emergence of the first businesses, accountancy has been an essential tool to ensure success. There are few projects that can kick off the ground without having consulted with and been advised by an accountant in terms of numbers and predictions. Due to an influx in small businesses and a flooding of many markets, it always pays to have an original and creative thinker in the form of a trusted small company accountant – which is why innovation is such a valued trait when it comes to accounting.


Alongside innovation sits understanding, which is equally as important. All good accountings have an advanced knowledge and understanding of their fields, which is why turning to small business accountant such as SureBooks if you are the owner of a small business is such a good idea. There is no one who understands the small business region better than us.

Should you be considering entering the field, know that you will constantly need to update your knowledge of the ever-changing field and policies in order to keep up with the times as well as be an appealing option for small business clients.

Good communication skills

In most industries, communication is of the highest importance. Without it, little can be achieved. In the accounting industry, however, communication is even more vital. It is the role of accountants to convey complicated information in as simple a way as possible. Wherever you go and whoever the client, you will be working with or aiding people in every level who may not have an understanding of finance and accounting matters.


Not only are successful accountants good communicators, but they are also confident in their delivery – especially when it comes to bringing clients aboard and making necessary recommendations.


Your small business accountant should have high levels of commercial awareness – which refers to the knowledge of where and how a business fits into a specific market. As previously discussed, the influx of small businesses means that markets are bursting fill with options and consumers are often overloaded. Good small business accountants will have excellent commercial awareness and can make suggestions that may alter the course of your business for the better – or at the very least give you some helpful directions on your way.


As with most careers, entering a workspace with enthusiasm each day is a major boost. Should you find yourself dealing with an accountant who is lacking on this point, meetings can be exceptionally boring – to say the least. A good small business accountant has the ability to be enthusiastic about projects and ideas, which makes for more productive meetings and advisory sessions. After all, they say that enthusiasm is contagious.

The benefits of working with a small business accountant

Before you opened your small business, you will have considered the matter of “risk” that is inherent in the endeavour. When faced with day-to-day operations and employee matters, it can be very difficult keeping up with finances and records – even if your business is small. Just because there is risk involved in launching and running a small business, there is no need to take risks with your finances and tax submissions. This is where your trusted small business accountant comes in!

There are a number of ways that a small business accountant – equipped with all the important qualities and tendencies mentioned earlier – can help your small business, such as:

Freeing up your time


Most small business owners are ready to face the fact that in most cases, if one can afford it, it is much easier to shuffle the responsibilities of tax strategy and bookkeeping onto the desk of your trusted small business accountant. Your valuable time ought not to be spent on these aspects if you can help it. Arguably, the more attention and time you give to the running of your business on a day-to-day level, the more likely its chances of success and growth.

Saving you money

It is often the idea of another expense that puts business owners off of hiring an accountant. If your profit margins are already quite thin, it might not make much sense to enlist outside help. However, you may be happy to hear that hiring outside help in the form of a small business accountant has the strong potential help the finances of your business and make up the expense of hiring them.

This is because accountants are trained to pick out wasteful expenditures as well as identify opportunities you may have missed that can help you save money. Should you ask it of them, they can examine your business in its entirety in order to discover areas that can be improved or altogether scrapped. Enlisting the help of a professional accountant can also prevent you from making unwise decisions as you will always have their advice at the ready before you make an important financial decision.

Boosting your professional image

Have you ever failed to pay invoices in time, or made a grievous error when charging another company for a service? Mistakes like these, when added up over time, can significantly damage your small business’s professional image. When you involve an accountant in these affairs, however, they can ensure that these mistakes do not happen – and that all documents and monetary recordings are in order.

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