If you run a small business, you know that managing your financial accounts could easily be a full-time job.
Luckily, there are people trained specifically to handle the day-to-day finances of your business! Hiring a bookkeeper can be a lifesaving decision, but what should you look for during the interview process?
This guide explores how hiring a bookkeeper can benefit your business and the steps you can take to ensure you hire the right person.
What Does a Bookkeeper Do?
Bookkeepers manage the day-to-day financial operation of your business. Though sometimes confused with accounting, bookkeeping is the process of preparing the financial documents that accountants use to do their jobs.
Accountants can take care of bookkeeping duties, but they generally charge more than a bookkeeper does, as bookkeepers do not need to earn the same certifications.
Bookkeepers and accountants perform similar functions, but accountants focus more on the big picture of your financial situation, while bookkeepers handle daily tasks like processing payroll and reconciling bank statements. Then, accountants can provide analysis and guidance based on those financial records.
Other bookkeeping duties include managing accounts payable and accounts receivable, keeping financial records, handling month-end closings, tracking fixed assets, and preparing the trial balance.
When searching for a quality bookkeeper, it’s essential to hire someone who can handle all of these tasks competently and uses proactive thinking to address discrepancies.
Though they should be analytically minded, a good bookkeeper also has the soft skills to communicate effectively with other employees, vendors, and clients.
Assessing Your Bookkeeping Needs
Different businesses have different bookkeeping needs, so the first step in hiring a bookkeeper is to assess how they could benefit your organization.
Consider factors like the size and complexity of your business and what tasks you would like a bookkeeper to handle moving forward.
Of course, the more complex your needs are, the more expensive it will be to hire someone who can handle those duties. Seek the balance between what your business can afford and what would be most beneficial.
You’ll also need to consider how many hours your bookkeeper will need to work weekly. If you won’t have much work for them, hiring someone full-time may not be the best use of your budget.
However, a good bookkeeper can be a crucial element in the growth of your business, making them worth the investment.
Different Kinds of Bookkeepers
Depending on your business’s bookkeeping needs, you may not need to hire a bookkeeper full-time. Smaller companies generally won’t have enough work to employ a bookkeeper full-time, so consider other hiring options.
Freelance bookkeepers often work remotely and manage the books for several clients, so they are happy to work part-time or as needed for your business.
This is a good option if your business only needs help occasionally or if you’d like professional assistance once a year while preparing for tax season.
However, if your organization has complex bookkeeping needs, a freelance bookkeeper may not always be available when you need them, so hiring a firm might be a better choice.
Bookkeeping firms are another great option, as they can handle part-time or full-time bookkeeping. A good firm will have many qualified employees, ensuring someone is available to help whenever needed.
Additionally, bookkeeping firms can increase their level of service as your business expands. Most firms will be able to accommodate your financial needs if your business is growing enough to require full-time services.
Finally, if you have a larger business with a lot of financial work to be done, you may want to hire a full-time bookkeeper to your team.
The advantages of a full-time bookkeeper are that their focus will be solely on your organization’s needs, allowing them to provide more personalized services and ensuring their availability full-time.
A full-time bookkeeper will also have the opportunity to collaborate closely with your accounting team, which can optimize their process and provide extra protection from mistakes.
How To Hire a Bookkeeper
The steps in hiring a bookkeeper are similar to hiring any other employee, but there are a few details to note.
1. Defining Job Requirements
First, determine the necessary qualifications and experience for the role.
Though bookkeepers are not required to become certified like accountants, you may want to prioritize candidates who have earned their Certified Public Bookkeeper credential. Though this is not mandatory, hiring someone with their CPB can bring peace of mind.
Though technically anyone can become a bookkeeper, candidates with an educational background in accounting or finance typically provide the best results.
2. Write a Job Description
First things first, you need to get the word out. Craft a compelling job description outlining the responsibilities, required skills, and qualifications, highlighting the importance of accuracy, attention to detail, and proficiency in accounting software.
Specify desired responsibilities and tasks and identify the software your organization uses to attract candidates who are already proficient.
Again, though certification is not required to work as a bookkeeper, you may want to include a preference for certified candidates in the job description.
3. Sourcing Potential Candidates
Now, it’s time to tap into the vast talent pool out there. Post the job opening on reputable job boards, professional networking platforms, and your company’s website.
Networking with other professionals can also lead you to top-tier bookkeeping candidates. Attend industry events, workshops, and conferences to connect with proactive bookkeepers looking for new opportunities.
In the digital age, social media is a gold mine for finding top-notch talent. Use LinkedIn and other platforms to your advantage. Join relevant groups, engage with professionals, and share your job opening with the world.
Finally, remember your own employees! They might have valuable referrals for candidates who blend in perfectly with your company culture. Consider partnering with recruitment agencies specializing in financial roles.
4. Conducting Interviews
As you review applications, focus on the candidates’ experience, certifications, and education in accounting or bookkeeping.
During the interview, feel free to put candidates’ skills to the test. Assess their technical abilities, problem-solving skills, and compatibility with your team and company values. You should also include questions to verify their familiarity with bookkeeping principles and regulations and their experience with relevant software.
Of course, depending on what kind of bookkeeper you’re looking to hire, interviews will look different. You’ll likely have different questions for a bookkeeping firm than you’d ask a freelancer, with hiring a full-time employee requiring the most careful interview process.
5. Making a Decision
Once you’ve finished conducting interviews, it’s time to make a decision. Carefully consider applicants’ qualifications, personalities, and availability to make sure you hire the best person (or firm!) for your organization.
Remember, a good bookkeeper is not just about crunching numbers; they must also have excellent communication skills to interact with your employees, vendors, and clients.
Ultimately, hiring a bookkeeper can be a game-changer for your small business. With their expertise in handling day-to-day finances, bookkeepers can free up your time to concentrate on essential aspects of business growth.
From managing payroll to reconciling bank statements and handling accounts payable and receivable, a skilled bookkeeper ensures your financial records are in good shape.
Their analytical mindset and communication skills make them valuable, allowing seamless interactions with team members, vendors, and clients. So, don’t hesitate to explore the many benefits of bringing a bookkeeper on board -– it could be the key to unlocking your business’s full potential.
Why is hiring a bookkeeper important for my business?
A bookkeeper can help you maintain accurate financial records, track income and expenses, manage cash flow, prepare financial statements, and ensure compliance with tax regulations. This can save you time and effort, reduce the risk of errors, and provide valuable insights into your business’s financial health.
What qualifications and experience should I look for in a bookkeeper?
Look for candidates with relevant qualifications such as a degree in accounting or finance, or certifications like Certified Bookkeeper (CB) or Certified Public Bookkeeper (CPB). Experience in bookkeeping, proficiency in accounting software, and knowledge of relevant regulations are also important. Depending on your business’s complexity, you may consider candidates with specialized industry experience.
Where can I find bookkeeper candidates?
There are several ways to find bookkeepers. You can advertise job openings on online job boards, professional networking platforms, or your company’s website. Utilize your business contacts and ask for referrals from colleagues or business partners. You can also consider working with staffing agencies specializing in accounting and finance roles.
What questions should I ask during the bookkeeper interviews?
Prepare a list of questions that assess the candidate’s knowledge, skills, and experience. Ask about their familiarity with accounting software, understanding of financial statements, and ability to handle specific bookkeeping tasks. Inquire about their experience with industry-specific regulations or any relevant certifications they hold. Additionally, assess their problem-solving abilities and communication skills.
How can I verify the credentials and references of a potential bookkeeper?
Contact the references provided by the candidate to gather insights into their work ethic, professionalism, and reliability. Verify their educational and professional credentials, such as degrees or certifications, by reaching out to the issuing institutions. If necessary, you can conduct background checks through reputable agencies to ensure the candidate’s integrity.
What factors should I consider when making the final hiring decision?
When making a hiring decision, consider factors such as the candidate’s qualifications, experience, and fit for your business. Evaluate their ability to adapt to your company culture and their communication skills. Additionally, assess their professionalism and their alignment with your business goals. It’s crucial to select a bookkeeper who understands your needs and can provide the required level of support.
How do I negotiate terms and conditions with a bookkeeper?
When negotiating terms and conditions, discuss factors such as the salary or hourly rate, working hours, and location (remote or on-site). Clarify expectations regarding job responsibilities, performance metrics, and reporting procedures. Address any confidentiality or data security concerns and ensure both parties have a clear understanding of the agreed-upon terms.