Bookkeeping is a core function of any business. As time-consuming as it is, every business owner must come to terms with managing the books. Although the global accounting software market is predicted to be worth $20 million by 2026, accounting software can only take you so far.
Hiring a bookkeeper for your business brings invaluable skills and experience to the table that you will never find from software alone.
So, what should you look for when choosing a bookkeeper?
Can You Rely on Them?
The average base salary for a bookkeeper is $40,000 per year, with the number being much higher for an accountant. You may decide to outsource if you run a small business to reduce the costs.
Either way, you need to know you can rely on them. The proper credentials are not necessarily the same as reliability.
Search for companies with great reviews and a long track record of providing outstanding service. Don’t be afraid to question a bookkeeper directly on this.
Are They Organized?
Bookkeeping is such a core function of any business. An unorganized bookkeeper could lead to misplaced documents and figures. If your bookkeeper cannot consistently meet deadlines, you have a problem.
Always ask about review and refund penalties if your bookkeeper fails to pull their weight. Don’t automatically assume every professional bookkeeper is detail-oriented and on the ball.
Is Your Bookkeeper Well-Informed?
Every professional bookkeeper should know the importance of basic concepts like income, assets, liabilities, and expenses. On the other hand, your bookkeeper should also be able to carry out the following functions:
- Offer customized financial reports.
- Provide insights into your progress and your goals.
- Make strategic planning, forecasting, and expansion management available to your organization.
Your accountant should also be aware of the latest developments in technology. Cloud-based solutions and state-of-the-art accounting software are not a bonus but a necessity in today’s business landscape.
Can they Communicate Well?
It’s not uncommon to come across a bookkeeper who’s brilliant with numbers but poor with people skills.
Your bookkeeper must be adept at dealing with people as well as numbers. Bookkeepers should provide a tailored service for any business they work with — meaning they need to both hear and listen.
They should also be responsive to any questions or queries and be readily available when you need them. A bookkeeper who regularly goes off the grid is not an asset to your business but a liability.
Finally, part of good communication is explaining things in a way you can understand. If they regularly use complex terms and slang, you’ll run into problems working with that bookkeeper.
Are they Committed to Constant Development?
It’s not uncommon for professionals to earn the credentials they need to practice and never look back. Most bookkeepers will try to stay on top of the latest updates to business and tax regulations, but this should be a minimum requirement. You need a bookkeeper who goes above and beyond because that’s what bookkeeping in today’s business ecosystem is all about.
Search for a firm that regularly updates its skills, services, and tech stack. This is important for protecting your business and ensuring that you stay more agile than the competition.
Feel free to ask your chosen bookkeeper about the courses and certifications they embark on annually to keep their knowledge fresh.
Do they Understand Your Industry?
Bookkeeping regulations may overlap across industries, but that doesn’t mean you can hire just any bookkeeper and hope for the best. Managing your company’s accounting activities requires a firm knowledge of the industry you’re in, its trends, and how it relates to your financial situation.
The more familiarity they have with your industry’s trends and conventions, the more likely your bookkeeper will spot problems and notice patterns within your data. They will also know more about any industry-specific tax savings you can make. A good bookkeeper can save your business thousands of dollars on your taxes. Without that industry knowledge, you risk not getting the return on investment you expect.
Can they See the Big Picture?
Bookkeepers can suggest ways to save money, maximize your annual tax deduction, and ensure you avoid any tax filing penalties. But a bookkeeping firm should go further by looking at the big picture.
The success of any business relies on knowing the true costs of running that business. Thinking about the big picture can improve your long-term profitability and provide context to the numbers.
The best bookkeepers don’t simply provide your final accounts. They also factor in:
- The cost of running your business
- Growth rates
- Fundraising campaigns
- Acquisitions and mergers
To manage all these aspects of your business, your bookkeeper must have industry experience and the necessary expertise to guide you.
Do they Prioritize You?
Any bookkeeper should prioritize their clients and their needs. Even if they have many different clients on the books, you’re spending the money to hire them. You should be treated in the way you deserve.
But what does prioritization mean?
It means that they act proactively when it comes to communication, respecting your time, and showing an interest in the professional goals of your organization.
Prioritization plays into customer service and client relations. Try reaching out to a prospective bookkeeper and monitor how long they take to reply and whether their answer is filled with sufficient detail.
If you’re going to invest thousands of dollars in a bookkeeping agency, you need to know you will get a return on that investment.
Hiring a bookkeeper is no small matter. There are so many factors to consider when dealing with a bookkeeping agency. Take the time to look over a selection of potential candidates and get in touch with them. The best way to get a sense of whether a bookkeeper is right for you is to speak to them.
It’s also worth asking friends and family for recommendations or looking up customer reviews to learn more about how they work.