As an Amazon FBA seller, you wear a lot of hats. You work hard to manage every aspect of your business and probably started it on your own as a side hustle.
No matter what scale you’re operating at, now is the time to hire an accountant if you haven’t already.
In this post, we’ll cover why you should have an accountant for your business finances and what to look for when hiring one.
Why do I need an accountant?
Did you know that 42% of Amazon sellers cite financial freedom as their top motivation for starting their business, according to this JungleScout report? But if you can’t manage your finances properly, financial freedom might just stay out of reach.
Accurate accounting is crucial for running an online business, but especially so for Amazon sellers. For example, as you scale, managing the complexities of inventory demand planning and cash flow forecasting, especially if you sell on more than one Amazon Marketplace, such as the US, Canada, UK, etc.)
However, tax time isn’t the only time you should work with an accountant. Unfortunately, that’s when many business owners think of hiring an accountant. Yes, an accountant can help you file your quarterly state and federal taxes. But, they can help you with so much more.
A good accountant will advise and guide you toward strategic growth. Understanding your finances empowers you to run a more profitable and sustainable business by tracking your cash inflows and outflows correctly. Without a firm grasp of your finances, you could run into problems like cash flow shortages, payroll issues, or late payments to vendors and suppliers. A skilled accountant helps you avoid this and maximize your cash flow.
If you work with a niche Amazon accounting firm, they have the expertise to navigate all of the nuances that only Amazon FBA businesses face. This frees up your time to focus on your core competencies.
What should I look for when choosing an accountant for my FBA business?
The accountant that’s right for your business will depend largely on what scale you’re operating at. The same accountant that might be perfect for a first-year seller running an Amazon FBA business as a part-time side hustle is not the right fit for a 7-figure FBA business.
Here’s what you should look for in an accountant based on the size of your Amazon FBA business:
1. Amazon FBA business under $20k in monthly sales
While your Amazon FBA business is still small, your top priority should be getting set up on cloud accounting software, like Xero, and making sure you have a solid financial foundation.
Pro Tip: Check out our guide for how to sync Amazon Seller Central and Xero.
If you are still tracking your finances manually through spreadsheets, or worse, by hand on paper, you are setting yourself up for mistakes that can be easily avoided if you use software like Xero.
At this volume of monthly sales, you don’t need a specialized accountant. It’s okay to use a local accountant who works for all kinds of businesses in your hometown.
2. Amazon FBA business – $20k – $85k in monthly sales
Once your Amazon FBA business hits the 6-figure mark, you’re going to have more financial considerations. At this sales volume, you should be building out and reviewing financial reports like cash flow statements, balance sheets, and P&Ls. You’ll also need to make sure you’re registered and collecting sales tax in all of the places you have nexus in.
At this point, you’re making enough revenue that you should be paying yourself a salary and are building out your team. An accountant can determine an appropriate salary cap and calculate the proper amount you can afford to pay. You may also be in the position to start hiring help. In that case, you’ll want to be sure you’re compliant with hiring laws and managing payroll correctly. Again, this is a situation where your accountant can lend a hand.
With 6-figure sales, it’s safe to still work with a general accountant, especially if you’re happy with the accountant you’ve been using up to this point as your business has grown.
However, if your existing accountant is no longer a great fit and you are in the mid to high-six figures in revenue, it’s time to consider looking for an eCommerce accountant that’s better equipped to work with businesses like yours. As you search for an eCommerce accountant, keep in mind that you want someone that can work with you as your business scales and you reach higher sales volumes.
An added benefit of working with a specialized eCommerce accounting firm, like Bean Ninjas, early on is they can help you build out your financial tool stack. For example, there are tools, like A2X, that can help automate some of the tedious bookkeeping tasks that FBA sellers face.
3. Amazon FBA business – $85k – 2M in monthly sales
Once you’ve hit the 7-figure annual mark, there are more financial considerations in addition to the ones outlined above. You’ll still need to comply with taxes, reporting, and hiring practices, but there’s more to manage at this level.
Running a profitable business at this scale involves more planning— especially around cash flow and inventory forecasts. For instance, you can use inventory forecasting to make predictions that help your business run more predictably and efficiently. Inventory forecasting, also known as demand forecasting, looks at your past sales and trends to help you optimize supply chain decisions. And, cash flow forecasting lets you estimate the flow of cash in and out of the company so you can effectively manage receivables and payments such as payroll.
Another financial consideration at this scale is determining whether or not to diversify off-Amazon. When the majority of your sales are on Amazon, that’s a huge platform risk.
Plus, as more sellers flock to Amazon, 66% of current FBA sellers worry about the increased competition keeping prices down.
If your sales are entirely through Amazon, you would lose all income if something happened to your seller account (not as uncommon as you might think!). Focusing on building your brand through your own website on platforms like Shopify can mitigate the risk. You can also diversify through other third-party marketplaces like eBay, Etsy, or Walmart.
If you plan on selling your business someday, then you’ll also want to spend the time and effort making sure you have seller-ready financials and comprehensive reporting. Buyers typically want to see 18 – 24 months of clean financials from a company before they purchase. Having your ducks in a row now will save you a headache and added expenses in the future.
A good eCommerce accountant can help you navigate all of the new financial considerations that come with operating a 7-figure business.
4. Amazon FBA – $2M+ in monthly sales
Running an 8-figure business involves much of the same reporting, financial considerations, and risks as operating a 7-figure company just at a much larger scale.
As a large company with over $2M in monthly sales, you’ve essentially outgrown the ability to work with a single third-party accounting firm. You might still be able to work with your third-party firm, but you should also have at least a financial controller in-house. They can also conduct internal audits and controls to ensure your company finances are on track.
No matter how much revenue you’re bringing in with your FBA business, you should find an accountant or hire financial team members that are professional and understand your specific business needs. It’s important for you to be able to trust the person(s) that will be helping you scale your Amazon FBA business.
For the last five years, we’ve managed the books for and assisted eCommerce entrepreneurs. Want to learn more about our process? Schedule a call today.