Many small businesses can't afford a full time accountant so they choose to outsource their accounting needs. Some businesses have a great team and others not so great. My suggestion for the perfect small business outsourced accounting team consists of two mandatory members and one optional member. The mandatory team members are bookkeeper and a CPA, the optional member is an administrative assistant.
Bookkeeper or Bookkeeping Service
Your bookkeeper will be a key member of your outsourced accounting team. You want someone that understands your business and will be a key member in helping you obtain your business goals. They should understand your industry. They should also understand your business goals so that they can develop a customized bookkeeping system that allows you to easily extract the information you need to make important business decisions. You also need them to understand what level of involvement you need and expect from them. You need all of this from your bookkeeper at a price to fit your budget. No easy task here so choose wisely. Finding a good bookkeeper that fits your needs can be quite challenging. Do you need someone every day, once a week, once a month or once a quarter? Hiring the right bookkeeper can be a daunting task so we created a guide for you.
Your CPA is also an essential part of your accounting team. You may ask: "do I really need a CPA and a bookkeeper?" My answer is a strong yes. Why? You don't want to pay a CPA to do bookkeeping tasks. You want to pay cheaper bookkeeping rates for those tasks. You pay your CPA for having an in depth knowledge of your business and industry, preparing your tax return and answering tax related questions. It is important that your CPA and bookkeeper communicate with one another to make sure the accounting system is set up properly for the CPA to prepare the tax return.
I list the administrative assistant as an optional accounting team member because they are not always necessary. If you really need daily interaction with invoices, phone calls etc and you don't have the time to deal with it then you may want to hire an administrative assistant. If your accounts payable needs attention more than 1-2 times a month then you may want to have an administrative assistant help in the process. Many small businesses don't have the need for administrative assistant but I have seen them be very valuable in the process as well. The administrative assistant can be very valuable to your bookkeeper especially helping deal with accounts payable and other simple tasks.
If you do choose to outsource the accounting for your small business I really do think that a bookkeeper and CPA are completely necessary. While many CPA firms do offer bookkeeping services it is typically not their specialty or focus. Therefore, we typically recommend two different services. Your bookkeeper or CPA may be able to recommend your missing piece to a trusted referral source they work well with.