Strong bookkeeping should be an undisputed given for any company. The benefits of bookkeeping cannot be overstated: its the core to deriving valuable information about a business’s operation in order to make valuable decisions.  An exhaustive list of the benefits can be discussed in another article, but here I want to discuss some basic skills and characteristics of qualified bookkeepers that you should use when hiring or evaluating your current bookkeeping staff. After all, hiring the wrong person can lead to a lack of information, poor decisions, and in extreme but all too common situations, huge financial losses.

A bookkeeper must absolutely

  • Be able to efficiently and effectively reconcile bank statements
  • Be able to process payrolls, accounts payables and accounts receivable
  • Be indisputably honest
  • Be knowledgeable about updating and posting journal entries
  • Be very well organized
  • Understand your business model and all of the industry’s nuances
  • Good communication skills
  • A minimum of a working knowledge of your choice of accounting software

Aside from these skills, you’ve got a great value in a bookkeeper if they understand how to prepare and analyze business reports. They should be able to connect with vendors, customers, and suppliers, among other business stakeholders.

Hiring the right person & Investing in that person

Chances are, you’re not a highly training accounting professional. Other than checking references for honesty, you may not be able to ascertain their skills as you might like.  Might I recommend paying another accounting professional (like your trusted tax accountant or outsourced CFO) to interview your top candidates to give you their opinion?

After you’ve made your choice and your bookkeeper has started to dig in, it is very likely that they’re feeling quite overwhelmed.  Those boxes of receipts and the unusual processes of your business are requiring more of them than they thought. Training should be provided from time to time to help them blend well with the organization. Not only that, but you will get the best value out of someone who feels like you care about their personal progress.