When you’re running a small business, there’s no shortage of demands on your time. Between cultivating client relationships, developing your products or services, and managing the people who work for you and the space you work in, it’s a wonder sometimes that you can find room in your schedule to eat and sleep. And then there’s bookkeeping. It’s certainly something that you can’t do without. Being on top of your financial situation at all times is crucial to a small business, but it’s time consuming, and as we said, time is not a commodity that you’re likely to have a surplus of.
Lots of small business owners do their own books when they’re starting up, often progressing to delegating tasks to family members or existing staff, as the workload gets heavier. At some point though, you may find that you’re in over your head, and start to look into getting professional bookkeeping services. When that time comes, here are a few things you need to know, so you can hire the right professional for the bookkeeping services that you need.
Understand the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant.
Before you hire someone to work on your books, make sure you know what sort of work you need accomplished, and get the right person for the project. A bookkeeper can handle day-to-day financial routines, like invoicing, ledger entries, accounts payable and accounts receivable. Accountants, who have much more stringent requirements for certification and education, generally focus on higher-level tasks, like financial reporting and managing and advising you on tax filings.
What about “freelance” bookkeepers?
If you have too much bookkeeping work to handle on your own, but not enough to warrant hiring full-time staff members, you may consider hiring a freelance, independent bookkeeper to come in periodically to do your books. While this may be a cost-effective solution, it has its downsides too. It’s going to take some time and effort to interview and hire someone who you can trust with your critical financial information. You should certainly check out their credentials and get references from other clients they’ve done work for. Assuming you get the right person, keep in mind that they may only be in your office once a week, or a few days a month, so there may be some complications if issues arise on the days that they’re not in.
Finances in the cloud - “virtual” bookkeeping services.
Cloud technologies have been changing every industry, and accounting is no exception. More and more small businesses have been turning to virtual bookkeeping services to manage their books remotely. In contrast with managing your books on site, virtual bookkeeping offers a number of advantages:
- You’ll work with a team of professionals with a full spectrum of skills and expertise.
- Your information is always available to you at any time.
- It’s a scalable solution - your team will grow, invisibly to you, as you need more bookkeeping services.
- Cloud accounting is safe, with your sensitive data stored using the highest levels of security technology.
- It frees up your time for better and higher uses in growing and developing your business.