Business Case Studies

Picking The Perfect Small Business Bookkeeper: 8 Key Principles

If you want to make your small business grow, choosing a good bookkeeper is absolutely vital. Sales, expenses, salaries, and other debts and credits are constantly flowing through your accounts. If you don’t track them accurately, you may end up in serious trouble. A lot of people who start businesses don’t have the personal accounting expertise needed to track their money in a timely fashion.

A bookkeeping professional is essential not just to comply with legal and tax requirements but also to cultivate an accurate picture of your business’s finances. If you don’t understand how your money is moving, how can you make wise decisions? Entirely too many small businesses fail because they lack the accounting resources they need. This is one stumbling block that’s entirely avoidable.

How do you pick out the bookkeeper who will give your small business the best possible service?

Modern technology makes starting a business almost trivially easy. Many entrepreneurs overlook the need to equip themselves with proper accounting knowledge. They end up struggling with makeshift bookkeeping systems. Common problems include:

* Inefficiency, poor accuracy, inability to maintain a useful schedule

* Negative effects on the company’s financial performance

* Draining vital resources/attention from other parts of the business

Think of engaging a professional bookkeeper as making an investment in your business’s success. While the ideal bookkeeper is one whose attributes match your unique requirements, there are some professional skills that are absolute must-haves. Review the eight core attributes listed below and make sure you pick a bookkeeper that exemplifies all of them.

1) Reliability

Reliability is one of the trickiest qualities to judge. A bookkeeping firm that looks great on paper – all the right credentials, and so forth – may turn out to be hopelessly unreliable. Long-term operation is one factor that speaks to a firm’s integrity and trustworthiness. You should also investigate a firm’s other current clients to get some informed opinions about how reliable it is. You should also feel free to pose questions about how a potential bookkeeper would handle specific situations you know your business faces.

2) Financial Expertise

A professional bookkeeper should obviously be familiar with income, expenses, equity, liabilities, assets, and other financial basics. Look for a financial professional with a wider skillset, though. Good bookkeepers don’t just keep your financial records; they also show you how to use them. You’re entitled to expect help with financial forecasting, strategic planning, expansion strategy, and more. Also, this is the time to note that a bookkeeper with outdated technology skills cannot provide your business with top-notch service. Make sure you hire someone who understands the latest software, including cloud-based accounting tools.

3) Organization

The stereotype of accountants and bookkeepers is that they are scrupulously detail-oriented. Don’t assume this trait is universal! Experience plays a vital role in teaching bookkeepers how to meet all of their reporting, analytic, and record-keeping obligations for multiple clients. Talk to a potential bookkeeper about the policies they have in place to catch and correct errors. A streamlined but safe accounting process is the key to giving your company cost-effective service.

4) Communication Skills

Many people get into the financial industry because they’re more comfortable with numbers than people. Your business needs a bookkeeper with people skills as well as mathematical ones. Check to make sure that your potential bookkeeper is adept at explaining financial matters to you and easily picks up on important information passed to him or her. Adaptability is a key trait that relies on good communication skills; your bookkeeper should easily be able to adjust their procedures to meet the specific needs of your business.

5) Professional Development

As with many professional fields, in the financial industry, some people are guilty of considering their education complete as soon as they have credentials. While you should consider a commitment to staying abreast of applicable tax laws and business regulations an absolute minimum, your bookkeeping firm can do even more. Have they invested in a bookkeeping course, technological education, and business services? A firm that works hard to perfect its level of service is better prepared to treat you right in the long term.

6) Industry-Specific Knowledge

The better a bookkeeper understands the intricacies of your industry, the better equipped he or she will be to not only track but interpret your financial activities. Industry expertise makes bookkeepers better at spotting oversights and exploitable patterns. Familiarity with your particular sort of business also tends to make your bookkeeper better at finding you savings during tax season.

7) Strategic Outlook

This ties into the second point listed above. A great bookkeeper is one that takes the time to understand your business thoroughly and make useful big-picture suggestions. Financial insight is a key component in your business’s success, and some bookkeepers provide more help than others. Check to see if a potential bookkeeper is prepared to offer advice on fundraising, growth, acquisitions, and other strategic moves.

8) Putting The Client (You!) First

Many excellent bookkeepers deliver outstanding service to multiple clients. One trait they tend to share is making it easy for individual clients to forget that fact! Look for a bookkeeper who respects your time, understands your goals, and keeps communication efficient. The more time you invest in checking out a bookkeeper’s customer service habits, the more likely you are to make a mutually-beneficial match.