If you have little to no bookkeeping experience, I highly recommend that you hire a bookkeeper or an accountant to take over your books for you. Trust me: This one step will save you time, money and energy in the short- and long-term.
Sure, you COULD do it yourself. There’s accounting software out there. They all have their pros and cons. But none of them are going to do your accounting properly for you. And an poorly set up accounting file is going to cost you more money in the long run. Trust me: I’m the one who cleans up these files for creative entrepreneurs.
So, yes! Your next question:
“How do I find the right bookkeeper or accountant?”
I’m so glad you asked. Great question!
I remember meeting with a prospect in person (oh, the good ol’ days!), and at the end of our meeting he leaned in and quietly said, “Can I ask you a question?”
Of course I said “Sure!” Admittedly, though, I was a little nervous, thanks to the secretive turn to the convo.
He asked me, “What’s the difference between an accountant and a bookkeeper?”
I’ll share with you what I shared with him:
A bookkeeper will enter your monthly transactions and make sure that what’s in your accounting software matches what your bank, credit card and loan statements tell you. (That’s called reconciling.) However, a professional bookkeeper is more than a data entry person. They will help you report on your taxes, let you know about any red flags you should look into further, and prepare your year-end documents for your accountant. Some bookkeepers take it one step further and complete your tax returns for you, if applicable. Bookkeepers can be accredited and hold various certificates, and the ones who continually provide excellent service stay-up-to-date with trainings and conferences. Many (not all) bookkeepers will also provide payroll and accounts receivable and payable support if needed.
An accountant tends to look at your books once a year when it’s time to file your taxes. You’ll also meet with them throughout the year when you have an important accounting matter to discuss. They’ll make sure that what is posted to your accounting software looks reasonable and won’t raise any eyebrows at the tax department. Not all accountants are CPAs, but many accountants hold certificates and degrees in accounting, finance and tax law. If your business is incorporated, there is a high chance that you’ll hire a CPA to complete your year end, especially if you have other investors or have or will have certain types of loans. While “CPA” stand for two different names in Canada and the US, the acronym does indicate that these professionals are held to the highest professional standards, are subject to audits of their own practices to ensure those standards are met, and must continue training yearly after they complete a rigorous program. Some (not all) accountants offer monthly bookkeeping services as well.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here’s one of my favourite pieces of advice I love giving.
When you’re ready to hire someone to take over your books, ask your friends, colleagues and/or peers for some recommendations.
Also, ask them why they recommend the accountant or bookkeeper, and then schedule a meeting with two or three recommended professionals. When you meet with them, you can:
1. Ask if they specialize in an industry or niche. (If you can find a professional who works with creatives on the regular, that’s even better!)
2. Pay attention to whether or not you feel at ease with the professional. If your gut or brain says “No, thank you,” then don’t! Accounting professionals can be, and should be, friendly, and they should never be condescending.
3. Ask them for package pricing for the work being done, rather than hourly. That way you’ll know what you’ll be paying from the outset, and you’ll know that your accounting professional has been doing this work for some time and is familiar with the kind of catch up project you need done.
Of course you will have many other questions, depending on your priorities, preferences, and situation. Be sure to ask them, though!
If you want to add me to your list of accounting professionals to interview, you can book your no pressure Discovery Call right HERE.
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