All right, I have a bookkeeper. Now what?
You have made the decision to hire a bookkeeper. Yay! It’s a great decision because now you will have more time to focus on making more money in your business.
So let’s make sure you get your money’s worth! Here are 7 things you should do when you start working with a bookkeeper.
1. Share Your Vision, Share You
Tell your bookkeeper why you got into business to begin with. Tell him/her about your product or service. Tell him/her what you feel separates your company from the rest of the pack. Share with him/her your 5 year vision such as how much money you want to make in your business and your plan to introduce new products/services.
The more your bookkeeper understands your vision, the more s/he will feel like a member of your team. That means your bookkeeper will go the extra mile to help you and make life easier for you.
2. Get in touch with the money side of you
Your bookkeeper needs to know how you have dealt with your books in the past. Think about your answers to these questions, and then tell your bookkeeper:
- Have you ever tracked your business or personal expenses? Or does the thought of doing that make you feel really nauseous?
- If you have tracked your revenue and expenses, how often do you track it?
- Does dealing with your money overwhelm you? Has it been hard to deal with money in the past?
- Are you a details person? Or do you just want to know the bottom line?
3. Tell your bookkeeper how you want your financial information explained to you.
Let’s assume it’s now time to review your profit loss report for the quarter. Do you want the report emailed to you? Do you want it in an excel spreadsheet? Do you not want to look at all of the numbers and do you just want the bottom line? Do you want your bookkeeper to come to your office and talk to you about how your business is doing?
Also decide the point where all of this financial information gets too overwhelming. In other words, you need to tell your bookkeeper how much info you want and how you want to communicate.
4. Protect yourself
Your bookkeeper will need access to your financial information such as your credit card statements and bank account statements. Will you give your bookkeeper online access or will you just mail him/her duplicate statements?
Here’s the skinny. Most bookkeepers would prefer online access so they have instant access to your financials. You’re probably wondering how safe this is. This is where the trust factor comes in. It’s very important to get 2 or 3 references before you hire a bookkeeper. I would also consider doing a background check. Some bookkeepers have employees as well, and I would ask your bookkeeper if they do background checks on their own employees and what systems they have in place to protect you.
Many bookkeepers also like to get the physical copies of your receipts and invoices paid. So how will you get them to your bookkeeper? By mail (could get lost), by FedEx (tracking number is good), by fax? Will you drop them off or will s/he come to your office to pick them up?
Remember, just because you hire a bookkeeper doesn’t mean you stop looking at your credit card statements. Continue to monitoring them to make sure nothing funny is going on.
5. Other bookkeeping duties
Do you want your bookkeeper to pay bills? Sign checks? If you do, I recommend your bookkeeper email you on a weekly basis the bills they pay and the checks they write so you are aware of what’s going on. You can also have an agreement that they won’t pay bills over a certain dollar figure.
6. Introduce your bookkeeper to your accountant so they can better serve you
The better the relationship your accountant has with your bookkeeper, the better life will be for you. It’s a great way for you to have a check and balance system on your bookkeeper. Tell your CPA about the services that bookkeeper will provide and ask your CPA to periodically evaluate the bookkeeper’s work.
Have a conference call or face to face meeting with your accountant and bookkeeper at least twice a year. Do a review of your financial statements together. Make sure that your CPA will be able to work with the software that your bookkeeper uses.
Some bookkeepers offer hourly rates while others offer monthly packages. Identify the amount you can afford fevery month, and then tell your bookkeeper to notify you when you have reached your monthly limit. And make sure you are not paying for services that you really don’t need.
Have your bookkeeper teach you how to run a few simple reports. You don’t have to be a bookkeeping ninja but it makes sense not pay for something that is simple to do. The first report that I recommend you learn how to do is your profit/loss report. It’s always good to know how your business is doing from a revenue, expense, and profits perspective.
Bookkeepers are in a pretty commoditized business. Because of this, some will enter into the gray area of giving broad financial, legal, tax, and insurance advice. Although they are trying to look out for your best interest, make sure to get a second opinion from your tax, legal, or financial professional.© Copyright 2012 Justin Krane, CFP