Picking a good bookkeeper is hard, and picking the RIGHT bookkeeper for you and your business is even more difficult! Your financial information is sensitive and has to be handled with care and coded correctly in order for you to succeed and grow as a business. When it comes to finding the right bookkeeper for you, you’ll want to consider a few things: exactly what tasks you want them to do, what skills they should have, proof of their work, testimonials, references, price point, and most importantly, communication methods.
Assistant vs. Bookkeeper vs. Accountant
First, you’ll want to know exactly what type of help you are looking for because roles like “assistant”, “bookkeeper” and “accountant” can get mixed up since they often overlap, but here’s a handy list of the basic roles of each person. You may need just one or all three, but either way you’ll want to know what each one typically is responsible for (remember, this can be different from person to person and the information below is a generalization for guidance only).
A great bookkeeper should blow you away with how good they are. Most importantly, they should be qualified – meaning they should know the basics and have the skills listed below. If they don’t have these skills then you may want to keep looking for someone with more experience:
- Problem solving
- Knowledge of your specific accounting software
- Reliable reporting
- Good communication
- Consistent data entry
- Industry experience
Proof, testimonials, and references
A great way to see if a bookkeeper is a right fit for you is to ask for a sample report or something that shows proof of their specific skills. You can also ask for testimonials because they are a great way to see if other clients have had good experiences and to find out exactly what previous clients enjoyed about working with that bookkeeper. It’s also a good idea to either get a reference from someone you trust or to check social media for good and bad reviews.
You know the old saying “you get what you pay for”? Well, it holds true in the accounting world too. You may be able to find someone who will work minimum wage and ruin your records and you may find a firm who will charge crazy high prices for the most basic service. The key is finding the right fit for YOU. Know your budget going in (even just a rough estimate) – there is obviously a very wide variety in price points and charging methods (value pricing, hourly, etc), but here is a general idea of the most popular options and their average cost.
- Hourly bookkeeper – Part time of 5hrs a week at $25/hr (about $500/mo)
- CPA firm – Usually will have a higher hourly rate since they offer additional services (about $900/mo)
- Virtual bookkeeper – Often have flat fees based on value pricing (about $400/mo)
One of the most important, but often overlooked qualities to look for in a bookkeeper is ease of communication. Do you like chatting on the phone? Make sure your bookkeeper and you communicate well that way! Like keeping it online? Make sure your bookkeeper responds in a helpful and timely manner! No matter your style, make sure your bookkeeper is easy to talk to, doesn’t use too much accounting jargon, and provides helpful feedback for your business. A few key metrics to look for in a good bookkeeper:
- They respond in under 48 business hours
- Their explanations make sense to you
- You feel comfortable asking as many questions as you need
This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. Greenspace assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.