Got an Accounting Headache? It May Be Time to Hire a Bookkeeper

For some freelancers and small business owners, bookkeeping is one of those dreaded tasks that rears its ugly head every month and refuses to be ignored. Because you want to get paid, you can’t blow it off and dismiss it into to-do list oblivion. And if you want to stay in business, you have to pay your bills. All of this takes time and some know-how.

This is where a bookkeeper comes in. Hiring a bookkeeper can restore some of this lost time … if you’re able to find the right person, get organized and delegate the work. Here are some things to consider as you explore outsourcing to a bookkeeper.

How to Tell If a Bookkeeper Can Help You

Bookkeepers aren’t for everyone; some signs that you might be able to benefit from working with a bookkeeper include:

    • You have a significant amount of invoices to generate and send each month.
    • You don’t have time to follow up on unpaid bills.
    • You’re overwhelmed by the time you spend every month managing your books.
    • Your business is growing but you’re still using a paper-based accounting system.
    • You don’t fully understand the accounting software you use.
    • You can’t get your accounts to reconcile.
    • You need help gathering information you need to close out your books at the end of the year.

    Things a Bookkeeper Can Do

    Aside from taking over the numbers so your eyes can uncross and you can focus on your work, a bookkeeper can:

    • Prepare and send your invoices
    • Prepare financial statements so you can see where you are financially each month
    • Ensure you are meeting all of the necessary financial requirements for doing business in your location
    • Initiate vendor payments
    • Record your transactions properly
    • Reconcile your accounts
    • Follow up on unpaid bills
    • Prepare your files for your accountant at the end of the financial year

    While hiring a qualified, experienced and trustworthy bookkeeper won’t take all of the responsibility off your shoulders — you’ll still need to track expenses, and collect and organize information for your bookkeeper – it can reduce the time and stress that comes from having too little time and no interest in managing your books. And the peace of mind you can gain from having a qualified and efficient bookkeeper supervising the numbers can be well worth the expense.

    Do you use a bookkeeper? Why did you decide to outsource your books?

    Image credit: blumik

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    • David

      If I were able to take the time to track expenses and collect and organize information, I wouldn’t need a bookkeeper. Running reports and paying bills is the easy part. It’s the data entry of the daily expenses that’s time consuming. Where do I find someone to do THAT?

      • Gateway CFO Solutions

        David – You should be able to find a data entry person without too much trouble. Depending on your city, posting an ad for a part-time person on Craigslist will probably inundate you with qualified candidates.

        Josh

    • Gateway CFO Solutions

      Hiring a bookkeeper is one option, but many business owners will find that an accounting service can provide these services at a lower cost, and with a greater level of expertise. Many business owners are not finance or accounting people, so even hiring a capable bookkeeper can be challenging. How do you know that this person will really execute these duties accurately? I’ve seen businesses go years with a bookkeeper, not knowing that the bookkeeper was making serious mistakes that have real cash and tax implications.

      I recommend most small business owners to handle the process somewhat along these lines:

      Hire a part-time clerk at a low hourly rate to handle billing/invoicing, payables (payments to vendors), record billing and payment transactions in your accounting software, and handle collections. Then hire a professional accounting service (different than a CPA firm) to handle the rest of it. This will insure that you get accurate, timely information at the best possible cost.

      Obviously there are exceptions and some businesses have very strong bookkeepers, but more times than not they will struggle with the higher level tasks. Most bookkeepers are not experienced in preparing financial statements, for example. There is much more to it than printing the report at the end of the month.

      Great article, any growing business will eventually face the challenge of passing off these responsibilities.

      Josh