Ensuring you have the right Bookkeeper or Staff Accountant, Accounting Manager or Controller combo is vital to growing your business. Having a team that can keep track of the day-to-day accounting transactions so that you can maintain operations is imperative. You as a business owner should focus on sales and customers, strategy, vision and making decisions that will help you grow and increase profits. A good accounting team will not only take great care of your day-to-day transactional accounting, but they will oversee other important financial aspects of your business; such as analytics, cash flow management and forward thinking financial advice.
To ensure that you have found a qualified accounting team, here are a few tips to guide your search.
Depending on your business needs, you will need to make sure your bookkeeper has the proper background and experience to ensure your financial success. If a bookkeeper previously worked for a large corporation, he or she may only have experience in a specific task, such as invoicing or conducting monthly reconciliations. If a bookkeeper has worked for a small business, he or she may have gained a multifaceted experience in all areas of bookkeeping.
Ideally, you would find someone who has a variety of experience in multiple industries. That being said, you will want to make sure that your bookkeeper has experience in your industry, or has experience with a similar company. This way, not only will the bookkeeper know the ins and outs of your industry, but will be able to provide greater financial insight thanks to their knowledge of multiple industries as well. If just getting the bills entered into your accounting software, invoices paid, banks and credit cards reconciled is all you need at the lower levels, the industry expertise may not make much of a difference, especially if you have a higher level person above the bookkeeper. Pro Back Office almost always suggests that you have oversight of your bookkeeper and can provide the roles above him/her. For a small company (1-3 million) you can likely get away with a bookkeeper 4-12 hours a week and either a high level Accounting Manager or Controller managing this person, providing financials and analytics, cash flow forecasting, budgeting and who will help streamline, create processes and improve the overall efficiency of the accounting and finance department. This role may be needed a day a week or a day a month.
Research Prospective Hires
Because you will want a bookkeeper who has a vast knowledge of accounting best practices and experience in many different industries, you will want to research all prospective hires. Not doing so could hinder business operations and set back financial growth. Make sure that you perform due diligence before bringing anyone in for an initial interview. If you don’t think you need a bookkeeper full time (most businesses under 5 million don’t) then you should hire an outsourced accounting firm like Pro Back Office, who can give you the P/T hours you need from a bookkeeper but also give you higher level support at only the hours you need.
It’s unlikely that having one person doing everything is a good idea, so if you can get a team of people putting in 20-40 hours a week at your business, for the same price as hiring one in-house person, you’ll find that everyone is doing the role they are best suited for, you will have more operational efficiencies, less room for error or fraud, and better checks and balances. Putting people in positions where they are going to be the most effective for your business will help you save money in the long run and will allow you to focus on what drives your business forward.
Part of finding the right team means you should also check their references, run a background check and check their credit.
Experience with Technology
Technology is integral to today’s bookkeeping processes. Using the right technology helps reduce mistakes and can prevent monetary loss. Because of this, you will want to find people on your team who have strong technology skills.
When conducting interviews, you should find out which software they are proficient in and if they are proficient in the software your business uses. Make sure that your new hire stays up to date with current software to ensure that bookkeeping standards are satisfactory with your business needs. Some of the top accounting software for businesses are Quickbooks—which is a good overall small business software and starts around $9.99/month, FreshBooks—which is a good mobile accounting application and starts at $9.99/month, Zoho—good for really small businesses (10 employees or less) and starts at $24/month, Xero—which is good for a sole proprietorship and starts at $9/month, and Wave Accounting—which is free with ads. These are a few of the accounting softwares available to bookkeepers to use. It’s best to understand what your accounting needs are and find a bookkeeper that can pair the correct software to meet your needs.
Bookkeepers are an integral aspect of the day-to-day fiscal operations of a small business. Because of this, it is best to hire someone or a firm whose personality matches the business culture and can conduct themselves professionally with outside contacts. This includes things like the language the use, the way they dress, their personal hygiene, the hours they work, how quickly they respond, etc. These may seem like simple things, but like anyone on your team it’s the little things that make the difference.
Not only is it important to find people who maintain professionalism at all times, it is also important to find a team who you can trust. Most CEOs and owners, rightfully so, are sensitive about their financial information. One little mistake can lead to large penalties later. You will want to hire someone who can explain complex accounting principles in an easy to digest manner, which will build trust because they will be able to explain how these principles impact your business. If a trusting relationship is not developed, then there will be a lack of trust in the bookkeeping process, which is something every small business needs to avoid at all costs. The advantage of working with an outsourced accounting provider like Pro Back Office is they’ve vetted the team and you have the extra layer of confidence the person knows what they are doing and can be trusted.
When hiring a bookkeeper, you are going to want to look for someone who will develop best practices and streamline processes to make the accounting process more fluid. Avoiding a bookkeeper who looks to you for direction is paramount to your success as a small business. This is one reason that you should have more than one person in your accounting department. Most bookkeepers will not know how to streamline or how to provide the analytics that you need to run the business. Having a higher-level person to work with and advise a bookkeeper is almost always a good idea.
Having a monthly checklist that your accounting team works with each month, even if they have repeated the same tasks for years, is very important. If your entire accounting team were to disappear, you should make sure a new team can come in and hit the ground running. This shows that they are organized and will not miss a beat or make a costly mistake.
How Can Pro Back Office Help?
Pro Back Office provides outsourced bookkeeping services. To make sure that the above key characteristics are met, you can outsource your bookkeeping needs to Pro Back Office to ensure your small business leaps over financial hurdles and steers clear of any monetary hiccups. Contact Pro Back Office today by calling 858-622-1681 to find out more information about how we can help your small business succeed.