Hiring an outsourced bookkeeper to help your small business run smoothly is a big step. There are a handful of qualities that make a bookkeeper a great match for your business. A few that immediately come to mind are a strong work ethic, an education that relates to finance, and having a solid background in small business. However, there are also a few qualities you don't want in your bookkeeper. When Salt Lake City Bookkeeping is brought in to fix a business's books we usually see people who cut corners, tend to not ask questions, and generally just yes us to death when were either training them or posing questions about the system.
Avoid Yes Men And Yes Women
We often get hired to train bookkeepers or administrative assistants for general bookkeeping. During these trainings, we often run into people that seem to be faking their way through their job. This is obvious when they say 'yes' to everything you are explaining but yet can't
give a detailed answer when asked a challenging question. Do you understand the difference between an asset and liability? "Yes." Ok, then explain how a car loan should be put on the books. This usually results in the crickets chirping. Do you reconcile the main checking account? "Yes." Ok, then explain why the book balance and bank balance are different.
I would much rather work with a bookkeeper that wanted to be challenged and could admit where they lack an understanding of something so it could be talked about in detail before it gets handled incorrectly. Some of the more complicated bookkeeping issues that are encountered can really snowball and lead to major implications come tax time. For instance, a bookkeeper may not understand how to properly handle the Undeposited Funds account and this could eventually lead to a double booking of income during the reconciliation process. Who wants to pay taxes on income that was incorrectly booked twice?
Avoid Someone Who Cuts Corners
A bookkeeper is the last line of defense for most small businesses and it's up to them to catch any financial mistakes that may have been made along the way. I often say that we at SLC Bookkeeping keep track of everything to the penny and I'm not exaggerating when I say this. If the reconciliation doesn't tie to the penny, then research is needed. This is where some bookkeepers may 'bury' the difference since no one will notice and they lack motivation. The bookkeeper most likely isn't the owner of the business but the passion should be there to treat it like it is. If the bookkeeper doesn't care about making sure the books are 100% dialed then they are going to cut corners and cost the business money in the long run.
Don't Hire On The Cheap
"I'm looking for a $12/hour bookkeeper." This is often heard when talking with some small business owners and it usually means the owner doesn't understand the importance of the bookkeeping system. Having a $12/hour bookkeeper might work in some situations but more often than not it won't be a long term solution for the business. Looking for a $12/hour bookkeeper that is trained in accounting, has real world experience, willing to give a long term commitment, and has motivation to see the business succeed is asking a lot. Granted, if the business has other benefits to offer (skiing, biking, climbing, or kayaking) in lieu of cash then that rate may be justifiable, but there are still long term issues that will pop up from having a seasonal bookkeeper.
As mentioned above, the goal is to have a bookkeeper that cares enough about the business that they treat it as their own. This will give the actual owner(s) confidence and peace of mind that they are in good hands and can focus their energy on other areas of the business such as sales, marketing, and scaling their business. Bookkeeping can come across as easy and painless if the right person is hired.