Small business owners can often take on the responsibility of recording transactions and managing their billing by themselves. However, as the business grows, it can be challenging to keep doing this independently. Having a bookkeeper can help give you extra time to manage other business responsibilities and provide additional benefits to your business.
What is a bookkeeper?
A bookkeeper organizes your financial transactions and provides financial statements that summarize and present essential information for future goals like fundraising or budgeting. They can also be the foundation for a larger financial team once you’ve grown your business enough that analysis and financial forecasting become more of a priority.
What’s the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant?
Bookkeepers and accountants often work together, but they are different in how they approach your business's finances.
Bookkeepers mainly organize and prepare information, while accountants work to strategically interpret that information. Bookkeeping involves managing your daily finances, including billing, invoicing, and preparing financial statements. Accountants will then analyze those reports, provide guidance on your best tax options, and provide you with direction on how to approach your other financial activities.
Bookkeepers do not need a license to operate. They can still obtain a certification to show their experience and expertise. The National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers is considered a leading trainer of Certified Public Bookkeepers (CPB) that can provide certifications in various areas and software.
By carefully selecting a qualified bookkeeper that aligns best with your business type, you can have a more efficient company that allows you to focus on other business ventures and obtain precise data to make strategic financial decisions.
What are the primary responsibilities of a bookkeeper?
Bookkeeping is not just data entry, as many may believe. A good bookkeeper should be able to do the following:
- Track and record all accounting data in a general ledger, including all credits and debits made to our accounts
- Processing all payments, including to banks, vendors, and any accounts payable
- Providing invoices to customers
- Maintaining inventory
- Staying up to date with any software updates to automate any process about the organization of your financial information that can be used to provide information on your financial performance and trends
- Managing any payroll duties
- Preparing any paperwork for your business tax returns
- Ensuring that your business remains compliant with government regulations
In summary, your bookkeeper maintains your financial records for your accountant to determine the patterns around your money. If you’re a smaller business with less complex transactions, you can use a bookkeeper that works independently without a senior accountant. Some companies may employ multiple bookkeepers that focus on different areas. For instance, a bookkeeper that is in charge of payroll reports to the senior bookkeeper. Eventually, if your business continues to grow, you should consider having an accountant instead lead your financial department.
What are some signs that I need a bookkeeper?
When your business grows and there are many business transactions, it can become challenging to do it all yourself. Some signs that you may need a bookkeeper include the following:
- Organizing your transactions takes time away from you working on selling, creating, and growing your business
- You have overdue accounts receivable and are behind on sending out customer invoices
- Your bills and receipts are unorganized
- You have many financial accounts and are unable to track business trends
- It’s unclear how profitable your business is
- Tax season is very stressful for you and you need to spend longer hours to catch up with organizing your finances
- You’re spending several hours each month on only bookkeeping
- Your records aren’t up to date
What is fractional bookkeeping?
A fractional bookkeeper is someone who does bookkeeping tasks but on a part time schedule. They will help organize your accounting records, ensuring completion and accuracy. They work virtually so you can hire someone out of state and find rates that meet your budget.
How can hiring a bookkeeper benefit your business?
A good bookkeeper will be skilled in the different financial software used throughout your industry. They can use their skills to help you automate and integrate your financial data in a systematic fashion. Some general software programs that many bookkeepers know of are Quickbooks, Netsuite, Sage, and Xero.
Because this is their expertise, they will handle your bookkeeping tasks more efficiently. This will let you have more time to spend on other parts of your business.
How much does a bookkeeper cost?
The costs of a bookkeeper varies depending on the size of your business, number of employees, how many accounts you have, credit cards, how many invoices you need to send out, number of records you need organized, and more. Also, depending on your accounting systems, policies, and reporting needs, your costs will vary.
Part time rates average around $20/hour. These rates usually only cover the basic bookkeeping responsibilities. Oftentimes, part time bookkeepers with rates around this will need to be supervised.
How to hire the right bookkeeper for your business?
When searching for your future bookkeeper, there are several points you may want to consider. Including the following:
It’s crucial to be able to contact your bookkeeper and receive a response from them in a timely manner. If your bookkeeper takes too long to respond or is on leave too often, you may want to consider switching services.
Good team member
A good bookkeeper should be able to communicate well with other bookkeepers and accountants. Using unnecessary jargon can make it difficult for your team and you to understand. They should be able to summarize and condense information in a way that doesn’t overwhelm others and that is helpful for your business.
Your bookkeeper should be able to keep your financial records safe and prevent cyberattacks from obtaining any sensitive data about your finances.