Are you looking to outsource your bookkeeping for your small business? There are plenty of options when you’re looking for a bookkeeping expert. It’s important to have the right questions ready when hiring and onboarding your bookkeeping help.
Generally, small businesses hire a bookkeeper when their business has grown enough that the complexity of accounting tasks are no longer something they can easily keep up with. Outsourcing your bookkeeping means you have accurate and easy ways to keep track of your business finances while spending less than hiring an employee to do it in-house.
Hiring the wrong bookkeeping specialist for your small business will have the opposite effect.
Considering these questions before you get started interviewing potential bookkeepers will help you find the right bookkeeping expert for your business!
1. What are your own business goals?
Before outsourcing your bookkeeping to an expert, you need to clarify your business goals. Are you expanding your offerings? Hiring new people? Are you just trying to be CRA compliant? Or do you want to be on top of everything going on in your business?
You might need a specific bookkeeper to help you with your non-profit. Or you might need a bookkeeper for only a couple of specific tasks.
Different bookkeepers have different skillsets. Some offer full-service bookkeeping, others more limited. Some are all about numbers. Others get into strategy.
Reviewing your business goals will help you decide which bookkeeping expert to hire.
2. Does the bookkeeper have experience in your industry?
Every company is different, and many bookkeepers have experience working across many industries. It’s important to check if they’ve worked with other clients in your field or have experience in fields that will make their transition to yours a success.
Although some small businesses might be able to outsource their bookkeeping to a general bookkeeper, others might require the in-depth know-how of an expert in their niche. This is especially true for companies like law firms, non-profits, and construction companies.
Certain problems that might come up are special to your type of business, and a bookkeeper with experience in this area is more likely to be familiar with your unique issues.
3. What is the timeline?
If you have deadlines in the future or need work done consistently on specific days, speak to your bookkeeping specialist before hiring them. They might not be able to meet those deadlines or charge more for these turnarounds. Similarly, your bookkeeping specialist might need information from you by a certain time to complete a task.
It’s also a good idea to discuss response times. Ask how many times you can expect to hear from them in a week or month and how long it takes them to return emails and phone calls on average.
Working out the initial best flow, submission and completion timelines ahead of time sets good expectations on both sides. As you move forward together you can fine-tune your process based on how the implementation of your initial process works.
4. How do you communicate?
Similar to timelines, communication discussions should happen before you outsource your bookkeeping.
You’re going to be working closely with your bookkeeper, so you must be on the same page regarding communication. Trust is essential, a huge part of this is being able to talk effectively with them, and to be transparent.
It’s important that the bookkeeper communicates with you in a way that you are comfortable with. If you like talking on the phone, make sure the bookkeeper is ok with scheduling regular phone calls. If you prefer emails, make sure they’re ok with that and you both agree on a reasonable response time. If you prefer in-app messaging, can the bookkeeper accommodate?
Talking about this before you start working together will set you up for success.
5. Who pays for accounting software?
When it comes to software, be sure to discuss what the expectations are. Will your bookkeeper take care of your software and app subscriptions and invoice you, or will you manage those subscriptions yourself?
No matter who pays for the subscription initially, the accounting file data belongs to the business owner. If your bookkeeper has wholesale account access for their clients, you may be able to take advantage of reduced pricing on your software.
A good thing to keep in mind is that the accounting software is an important business platform well worth the cost (with appropriate features for your business) to help you manage your business successfully.
Good tools save time and effort. A prime example of that would be to think about creating financial summary reports like the Profit and Loss and Balance Sheet in Excel. Some business owners use an excel workbook to classify their transactions throughout the year to avoid the costs of the software. All the steps required in that solution are easily beat by the efficiencies in our top cloud and desktop accounting platforms, with much more robust reporting available. Where you will save money on application cost, you will spend money in the time to process the data.
Our advice would be to go with the tools that work with the best ease, for the most consistent and timely results.
6. What services does the bookkeeper provide? Are they a Certified Professional Bookkeeper?
Not all bookkeeping specialists provide the same services. In fact, there is a lot of variation in the bookkeeping scope and experience.
Ask your potential bookkeeping expert what services they provide. Ideally, you want someone who offers a full service so you can accurately know the numbers and make decisions in your business.
A full-cycle bookkeeper keeps record of the daily financial transactions of a business. They can process your payroll, your bill payments and track sales, reconcile bank and credit card accounts monthly, collaborate with cash flow monitoring, GST filing and year-end payroll filing and reporting, and ensuring your company’s books are ready for year-end tax preparation by your accountant. They’ll have the knowledge to compile reports that can help you make business decisions.
Ask your potential bookkeepers what experience and services they bring to the table. What professional organizations do they belong to, and what is their policy on continuing education every year. Look for a bookkeeping expert that places a high value on education, ethics and accountability, in addition to their full-cycle bookkeeping skills.
At All Tasks Bookkeeping, our we handle all of your bookkeeping needs so that you can focus on the work that only you can do in your business. Our team of bookkeepers are members in good standing of Certified Professional Bookkeepers of Canada, experts in a variety of industries and can help you with everything from basic data entry to consulting to Covid-19 Relief program support.
It’s our belief that a clear view of your finances is the best way to reach your small business goals.
Book a discovery call today!