Small business owners and entrepreneurs often start out alone, but it shouldn't stay that way. As soon as the financial plan can handle the added stress of a new employee, it should be time to hire an accountant.

These professionals bring a number of benefits to companies, and without them, it may be hard to manage business banking, tax planning, networking and many other areas. These are only some reasons why an accountant is so vital to a small business. However, not every person has what it takes to do this job. With that in mind, it may be wise to find the most qualified candidate by remembering a few key elements.

Nobody is a perfect match
When a small business owner is looking for a new accountant, it is smart to keep in mind that nobody is perfect. There isn't that one ideal person out there who meets the requirements exactly, but several important traits should be watched for.

According to Entrepreneur magazine, they have to understand the small-business side of accounting. While the profession is relatively the same for all types of companies, there is a difference between the big corporations and the little guys. A good colleague can answer startup questions quickly, without looking confused. In addition, they'll also have a similar risk tolerance level. If they see eye-to-eye on crucial issues like income and deductions, odds are they'll be of some assistance.

Find a versatile accountant
A good accountant can do more than just crunch numbers, according to Bankrate. These professionals have to be well-versed in a number of key areas, from the financial plan to tax advice.

Therefore, when looking to hire a new accountant, small business owners should find somebody who has an understanding of taxes, the news source noted. This goes deeper than simply filing returns. A professional should be able to dig into the planning stage as well.

"Your accountant's role has changed from somebody who would take the records and prepare the information to someone who's a reviewer of the information – more of an adviser," Mike Jeffries, a New Jersey-based accountant, told Bankrate.

Moreover, an accountant should be able to network. If they work with multiple clients, they can link up small business owners with others in the industry, possibly referring services and other goods. This skill can really come in handy for any company down the line.