How do I find a bookkeeper for my growing business? Should I just hire an accountant?
Bookkeeper vs Accountant
While these questions seem related, interestingly enough, they aren’t as much as you think. Hiring a bookkeeper does not replace the need for an accountant, and hiring an accountant does not replace the need for bookkeeping.
Accountants are generally very good at preparing your taxes to help you file and pay your taxes at the end of the month.
Bookkeeping is a special function to the business because it is required for all three types of accounting addressed in our white paper. The most basic way to understand bookkeeping is that it is generally just data entry: taking invoices, payments and cash and recording them into the proper location. Too many people think that this is accounting correctly for their business. Real accounting is the proper set up of the location where this information is kept, and then the ensuring the information is accurate. High-level accounting then takes that information and prepares it in such a way that the data is then useful information for business decision makers.
So to review, a bookkeeper enters data. And a bookkeeper is only as good as the system in which they operate. Some partially trained accountants hold themselves out as bookkeepers and can do a decent job, but we’ve seen quite a few companies where multiple bookkeepers have tried to keep the books “their” way, and ended up ruining a lot financial data. And that can get a business in trouble.
What to Look For in Finding a Bookkeeper
In looking for a bookkeeper, we recommend that you start by seeking a higher-level professional who can set your QuickBooks up the right way. We then look for bookkeepers that have formal accounting training and that are meticulous in their detail orientation. Finally, of all of the accounting positions, the bookkeeper interacts the most with customers, so you’ll want to make sure that they have good interpersonal skills.
CFO vs Controller vs Bookkeeper
We’ll cover in another blog post just how different are the roles of the CFO, controller, and bookkeeper. Suffice it to think that the bookkeeper enters the data. Next, the controller makes sure the data entry is correct, that timely financial reporting is produced, and that no one is stealing from the company. And finally, the CFO is looking into the future and at the business as a whole and helping forecast the finances of the business, plan for cash needs, and help the business stay on target with its budget.
Preferred provides an all-in-one solution for many small businesses in Utah. We take responsibility for and handle the CFO services, controller duties, and the bookkeeping function. We may perform all of the work ourselves or, as you grow larger, help you hire the well-trained accounting staff that you need to accomplish each tier of expertise.