Three tips for working with a bookkeeper

There are many different ways we work with clients, and the same is likely true of many accounting or bookkeeping companies. I’ve often had companies ask me if I can provide a specific level of service, but they don’t realize that there’s still some level of involvement or input required on their part.

For small businesses looking to outsource their books, here are some important things to keep in mind as you start working with a bookkeeper.

Identify the desired level of support

Over the years, I’ve worked with some clients who simply needed periodic consulting about their bookkeeping setup. I might meet with them a couple of times to work through an issue, and then I might not consult with them again for six months to a year.

But the more common scenario is either a client who wants some monthly support with entering expenses and income, and keeping the books on track, or one who wants even the day-to-day bookkeeping tasks handled for them, such as making deposits and paying bills.

And sometimes, clients need a complete overhaul. I once had a client who had two different systems for tracking their accounts, and the two pieces together didn’t add up to 100%. Sometimes in those situations, the best course of action is to start fresh, but your bookkeeping consultant can advise you on that.

Recognize your role in the process

Even for those clients who ask me to handle all the details, the client still has to be involved in the process. After all, it’s their business!

The extent to which a business owner is involved will vary a bit depending on their history with bookkeeping and what program and process they use. But even those with a great track record for keeping things current will still need to communicate with their bookkeeping or accounting partner.

Find a consultant you trust

You’re handing over significant details about your business, so it’s important to find a partner that you trust. For most people in the field, numbers are numbers, whether it’s a $20,000 business or a $5 million business. But for the business owner, those numbers can be very personal, and it may be hard to give someone the level of access needed to help.

Before you contract with a bookkeeping consultant, have some honest conversations about your current situation and how you want them to help. If your books are out of control and you need someone to get them in order, expect to spend time answering questions and adapting to new processes. Keep in mind that a good bookkeeper is going to nag you for receipts-it’s their job!

No entrepreneur woke up and decided to go into business so he or she could do bookkeeping on the weekends after providing a product or service all week. It’s not uncommon for small businesses to get behind, but hiring a professional to help with your books can keep you on track and in business.

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