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How to Set Expectations for Your Bookkeeper

June 12, 2014

As a business owner, you are probably used to being pulled in a million different directions. You can only do so many things and do all of them well; at some point, you have to decide which tasks you are willing to delegate. For many business owners, the best choice is to hire a bookkeeper. This can be a great way to make sure that all of the important details are attended to while taking a little bit off your own plate. Before you hire someone, though, you need to set some expectations. Use these guidelines to help you set expectations for your bookkeeper.

  1. Your bookkeeper needs to understand the basic terms that are commonly used in bookkeeping and accounting. There are five basic types of accounts: assets, liabilities, equity, income, and expenses. Your bookkeeper needs to know the differences among all of them.
  2. Your bookkeeper needs to be detail-oriented. Bookkeeping is all about the details, and it doesn’t do you any good to hire a bookkeeper if you have to watch his every move. Your bookkeeper must be able to deal with all the little details that are involved in your financial operations.
  3. Your bookkeeper needs to get the big picture. There’s more to it than simple math. When the time comes to make a big purchase, like a piece of equipment, your bookkeeper needs to know how to set up asset and liability accounts and allocate the payment to interest expense and liability principal reduction.
  4. Your bookkeeper needs to follow through. Once again, you can’t check up on them all the time or track down every detail. You need to know that you can rely on your bookkeeper to take care of the details and complete all aspects of your financial projects.
  5. Your bookkeeper must have financial statements ready on time. The balance sheet, profit/loss statement, and cash flow statement should be ready by the 10th of each month.
  6. Your bookkeeper must be able to do job costing appropriately. All costs should be tracked by item and job detail so that you know how much your projects actually cost.
  7. Your bookkeeper must understand your industry. Most of the skills used by bookkeepers carry over from one industry to the next, but your bookkeeper should have at least a basic understanding of your particular industry. There are always some aspects to the job that are specific to your industry.
  8. Your bookkeeper needs to have good communication skills. He should be able to work independently, but speak up when he has questions or needs clarification. This is essential for the office to run smoothly and you to be aware of how the financial matters are being held.
  9. Your bookkeeper must have good computer skills. The days of keeping paper books are long gone. Your bookkeeper must be proficient in your bookkeeping software as well as general office software, like Word and Excel.
  10. Your bookkeeper must be committed to your business. Many small businesses hire a part-time bookkeeper who isn’t able to devote sufficient time or attention to their business. Choose a bookkeeper who makes your business a priority.

When you are searching for a bookkeeper, use these tips to help you set some expectations for that person. If you could benefit from some business advice, get in touch with Acceler8. We are your business, tax and accounting advisors. Contact Acceler8 for small business guidance today.

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