If you are looking for the best accounting firm in Pittsburgh for your small business, here are five definitive facts about the city and five sure-fire ways to find the accounting firm there that best meets your small business needs.
Pittsburgh -- The Most Livable City In The U.S. Pittsburgh is Pennsylvania's second largest city, population 311,647. The seven county area surrounding the city boasts a population of 2,354,957. Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, is by far the biggest and most prosperous. In these seven counties, there are over 1,000 accounting firms, 40% of which are in Pittsburgh. Over half of them cater to small businesses.
In 2005 and again in 2009, The Economist ranked Pittsburgh the top most livable city in the United States. In 2007, Pittsburgh claimed the number one spot in Places Rated Almanac. In 2010, both Forbes Magazine and Yahoo! had Pittsburgh at the top of their lists. Entrepreneur Magazine ranked Pittsburgh as one of the best for entrepreneurs.
Pittsburgh --The City Of Bridges. Pittsburgh is the world record holder for bridges with 446 of them contained entirely within the city limits. These bridges cross the Allegheny River from the northeast and the Monongahela River from the southeast to form the Ohio River and the Downtown area of the city known as the Golden Triangle. They link the city to the four areas surrounding it, namely the North Side/North Hills, the South Side/South Hills, the East End and the West End. Four interstates (I-376, I-79, I-279 and I-579), known to Pittsburghers as the Parkway East, the Parkway West, the Parkway North and Crosstown and two major expressways (Route 28 and Route 22) connect 237 boroughs and 202 townships with each other and with Downtown Pittsburgh.
Most of the larger accounting firms serving Pittsburgh's major corporations are in Downtown Pittsburgh. However, virtually all of the accounting firms serving the city's ever-growing small business population are located in the areas north, south, east and west of the city. These firms serve small businesses in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County and also offer their services to the other six counties that make up the Greater Pittsburgh Area. The small business accounting firms in these areas have deep-seated ties to the community, the people and the businesses residing there.
Pittsburgh -- A City Transformed. Thirty years ago, Pittsburgh was a dirty, smoky steel town, known as the Steel City, because of its predominance as a mighty steel-making hub. When that industry collapsed and Pittsburgh lost its manufacturing base, its blue-collar workers and corporate giants like Westinghouse, Gulf Oil, Koppers and Rockwell International, the city faced its first economic crisis in more than a century. To its credit, though, the city transformed like none other in the country and emerged twenty years later as a thriving white-collar metropolis.
Today, Pittsburgh is still a steel city. US Steel, the 10th largest steel company in the world, is headquartered there. Allegheny Technologies, a world-class steel maker, has eight manufacturing plants in the region. The city still employs 7,000 steel workers and another 12,000 in the primary metals sector. Though the area lost 100,000 manufacturing jobs in the last 30 years, that sector is still one of the biggest contributors to the region's economy. What changed is how diversified that sector is now. Cutting-edge companies in life sciences, robotics, information technology and research have joined ranks with eight Fortune 500 companies. Health care, education, research, financial services and entertainment/tourism are the newly emerging industries that are driving revenue and employment for the region.
One of the fastest-growing fields supporting the city's transformation to a white-collar economy is accounting. This is especially true as the city continues to move away from industry to service and technology. Many of the newly emerging companies across all sectors of the local economy are small businesses. Though there are already over 400 accounting firms in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County alone servicing those businesses, that number increases dramatically as you move into the other seven counties surrounding the city.
Pittsburgh -- A City Of Growth. The local economy mirrors the nation's economy as it continues to battle the recession. However, the region has fared better than most places in the country and is poised for substantive growth in 2011. Economists from the city's largest financial institutions predict that the Greater Pittsburgh Area will add 13,000 new jobs this year. Unemployment is expected to drop below eight percent as larger corporations begin to hire and newly established businesses begin to grow. Additional hiring will also be evident as new companies locate there.
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the city's largest employer, is currently in a hiring mode. Retail giants like Dick's Sporting Goods and General Nutrition Center (GNC) are growing. Google now operates a 40,000 square foot office in Pittsburgh and recently announced plans for expansion. Marcellus Shale natural gas will be a major contributor to the local economy. The Cultural Arts, including film production, continues to blossom and dozens of new information technology firms are emerging to support the growing research activity at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University.
Most of the new companies being created in the area are small businesses supporting these major industries. As the area grows, these businesses will grow as well and their need for more specialized accounting services will become increasingly evident. Presently, accountant firms in the Pittsburgh area offer 18 different types of accounting to small businesses, income tax accounting and project accounting to name a few.
Pittsburgh -- The City Of Champions. Pittsburgh is home to three major league franchises -- the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Two of those teams have graced the city with championships, the Steelers winning six Super Bowl titles and the Penguins winning three Stanley Cups. Thanks to the ingenious idea of a beloved Pittsburgh sportscaster and his Terrible Towel, the Steelers have given Pittsburgh fans reason to proclaim their hometown pride by simply waving their Terrible Towel. This marketing icon singlehandedly created Steeler Nation, a brotherhood of loyal fans across the country that has quietly and selflessly raised millions of dollars for a local charity in Pittsburgh.
This hometown pride, this brotherhood, this spirit of generosity is championed in almost every neighborhood and community in the Greater Pittsburgh area. Pittsburghers are proud, industrious, friendly and generous people. Many of them have lived in their hometown for years and have established hundreds of small businesses to support their families, their communities and the city they call home. Accounting firms throughout the area have their roots in these same neighborhoods and have managed to successfully guide and support these businesses and the local communities and organizations they serve. Because of their efforts, these small businesses continue to prosper.
With a good working knowledge of the city, its economy and its people, you can easily find the accounting firm in Pittsburgh that best meets your small business needs. Here are five sure-fire ways to help you do that.
Pay close attention to your location and the location of the accounting firm with whom you choose to work. Pittsburgh is a large metropolitan city with over 400 neighborhoods and communities as diverse as the people living there. These neighborhoods and communities are what make Pittsburgh unique and it is important that you find an accounting firm who knows these places and the businesses that reside there. Pittsburgh is also a city, like many other big cities in the country, plagued with traffic jams, construction delays and bad weather. These conditions cause havoc on the roads in and out of the city at any time in the course of a regular business day. Don't waste time driving all the way across town to meet with your accountant. Besides, if your accounting firm is close to you, they should be willing to come to your place of business.
Focus your attention on only those firms in Pittsburgh specializing in small business accounting. Small business accounting firms keep track of salaries and wages, deductions for federal, state and local taxes and Social Security, utility costs, maintenance, depreciation, amortization, interest and rent. They also prepare your tax returns and administer payroll, health insurance and 401K retirement programs. These are the responsibilities you will want your accounting firm to handle for you. If they can also provide sales, marketing and financial services to meet the ever-growing needs of your small business, so much the better.
Think about the things you know you want to receive from your accounting firm on a regular basis. Do you want them to reconcile your business checking account each month so that you know how your business is doing and you can manage your cash more effectively? Do you want an income statement itemizing your revenue and expenses every month or every quarter so that you can determine how effectively your business is performing? Do you want to receive a balance sheet giving you a snapshot of the financial condition of your business at any specific point in time so that you have the proper financial reporting to give to banks, investors and vendors who are considering how much credit to give you? Any accounting firm in Pittsburgh that professes to be a small business accounting firm should be able to provide you with all of these things as a matter of course, including as many consultations as you might need to run your business effectively and efficiently.
Get answers to all of your questions before you commit to any one accounting firm. Here are questions you might consider asking:
• Where exactly is your accounting firm located in Pittsburgh?
• What accounting services do you provide for small business owners? Can you take care of me and my accounting needs?
• What ties do you have to the community? Have you ever been recognized by your Chamber of Commerce or the Small Business Administration for outstanding service to a small business owner?
• What kind of monthly/quarterly/yearly reports can I expect to receive from you? How will these reports help me to better manage my business? Will I be able to understand them without your help?
• How and in what format will you want to receive information from me? How often will you want that information?
• When I have a question or concern, how best can I communicate with you? How quickly will you respond?
• How can you help me to grow my business?
Begin your search with Google, not the Yellow Pages. Start by searching for "Pittsburgh Accountants" or "Pittsburgh Accounting Firms." Narrow your search, if necessary, by location and type of accounting services provided; for example, search for "Accounting Firms In Kennedy Township" or "Small Business Accounting In Pittsburgh."
Realize early on that accounting is the foundation upon which your success, in large part, will be determined. And remember, for the small business owner, it is all about saving time and saving money. Using these five sure-fire ways to find the best accounting firm in Pittsburgh for your small business will save you both and your company's success depends on it.