Once a business reaches the growth stage, and sometimes even in the startup stage, many small business owners reach a point when they need to bring in help to manage the day-to-day operations of their businesses. One of the biggest areas to outsource is your monthly bookkeeping processes.
You can select a small business accountant to facilitate your annual accounting practices, provide financial advice and oversee the overall fiscal health of your business. Often, though, you will also need a bookkeeper to manage the ongoing weekly or monthly bookkeeping processes.
The tips in this article will help you select the right bookkeeper for your small business.
1. Understand Your Needs First
The first part of having a successful relationship with your bookkeeper is selecting the right bookkeeper for your small business. To do this, you need to know what kind of services you want your bookkeeper to provide, how accessible he or she will need to be, and an idea of the type of personality you tend to work best with. Once you have outlined exactly what you're looking for in a bookkeeper, it will be easier to find the right bookkeeper for your business.
2. Make a Collaboration Plan
Once you have found a bookkeeper, you will need to devise a plan for collaborating and sharing information efficiently. This might mean using online services, setting up screen-sharing tools, or even having monthly web conferences or instant message chats to stay on the same page. The key is to create a plan that clearly outlines responsibilities and gives both sides access to the information needed.
3. Be Open to Advice
Delegation can be challenging, but unless you are willing to let go and trust that your bookkeeper has your best interests in mind, you will never free yourself from your bookkeeping process. Remember that you have chosen your bookkeeper because you are impressed with his or her credentials and experience, and you feel he or she can do the best possible job for your business. Commit to being open to suggestions for improvement and management in order to gain the full range of benefits of working with a qualified bookkeeper.
4. Avoid "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" Syndrome
While you will need to relinquish some of the control of your books to your bookkeeper, don't give up complete control of your business finances. Make sure you understand what's coming in, going out, and your overall financial status at all times. Review the statements your bookkeeper provides to you each month, and confirm that the data shown reflects what you know to be true. No one knows your business better than you do.
5. Don't Mix Business and Personal Finances
You hired a bookkeeper to manage your business data, keep track of your finances and make sure your books are tidy when tax season approaches. The last thing you want to do is muddy the waters by mixing your business and personal finances. Keeping your business and personal finances separate is a smart move for your relationship with your bookkeeper and for the overall financial health of your business.
6. Keep a Paper Trail
The word "audit" conjures up scary thoughts, but it can provide some good motivation for keeping accurate records. Avoid the temptation to skip over a transaction because you think it's unimportant, it's a hassle to track, or you assume that your bookkeeper will catch it. Every piece of financial data coming in and going out of your business should be tracked, included in your books and then kept as an archive for future access if necessary.
7. Create an Organized System
You are on the hook for providing your bookkeeper with the data he or she needs to manage your books every month, and the more organized you are, the more painless it will be for both of you. Your business transactions probably occur on a rolling basis, at all different times during the month. Figure out the quickest and most thorough way to grab these transactions so they're all in one place for your bookkeeper so you streamline the process.
8. Be Consistent
As you grab your transactions and other financial data during the month, consistency will also help you make it easier for your bookkeeper to classify each piece of data accurately. You can be consistent by using a standard structure for file names, providing easy-to-understand spreadsheets and submitting the same files every month.
9. Don't Withhold Information
Things happen during the course of business that you don't plan for. Maybe you got hit with a late payment fee on your business credit card, or had to issue a refund to a client with extenuating circumstances. Avoid the guessing game by sharing the details with your bookkeeper as you hand off your monthly files so he or she can log the transactions appropriately.
10. Keep Communicating
Your relationship with your bookkeeper should evolve over time as your business grows and your needs change. Keep your bookkeeper up-to-date with what's happening in your business, what you expect might change your financial data in the future, and what you need in order to feel secure with the relationship. The relationship will be much more effective when you're working together each step of the way.