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5 Tips for Hiring a GREAT Bookkeeper

Bookkeeping?the "dreaded" word is something we all have to worry about. Business owners rarely go into business to deal with the financial aspects of running a business. It's easy to understand why! Who wants to do all those boring record keeping functions? Not many. Therefore, one of the first things most entrepreneurs do is hire a bookkeeper. Though hiring a friend, relative or anyone who isn't experienced with the basics of bookkeeping may be a recipe for DISASTER!

You may have the best of intentions and they probably do to; however, you need to be objective when hiring a bookkeeper if you want a GREAT one!

5 Tips for Hiring a Great Bookkeeper:

1. KNOWLEDGEABLE. Make sure they have a basic understanding of accounting and how the "big" picture all fits together. The difference between an accountant and a bookkeeper is that an accountant will do more analysis and usually has additional training. So, while you may not need an accountant on staff, you do want someone who has a basic understanding of the difference between assets, liabilities, equity, income, cost of goods sold, and expense accounts.

2. AVAILABLE. Ensure that they will be available and dependable to keep your bookkeeping up to date. Your information should be input on a consistent basis so you can get reports in a timely manner. If they are trying to "squeeze" this function into their other responsibilities, they may not give it the focus they should.

3. ACCOUNTABLE. You want a bookkeeper that will keep you accountable. If they have checks or deposits that they are unsure of, you want them to be willing to hold you accountable and get good information for record keeping. You don't want someone who is going to code everything to "miscellaneous."

4. COMPETENT. You want to keep your books on a computer, not by hand. So ensure that your bookkeeper is competent in using a computerized bookkeeping program, like QuickBooks®. You want a full-service package that incorporates your budgeting, estimating, invoicing, job costing, bookkeeping, and reporting aspects all in one. Though it is key that they are competent enough to be able to input good information into the computer system.

5. FAMILIAR. Having a bookkeeper that is familiar with your industry will shorten the learning curve and provide better details. While the basic bookkeeping fundamentals are applicable to all industries, there are very different specifics needed for different industries. Construction companies rely on job costing to understand their profitability. While, retailers are focused on inventory aspects. Restaurant, non-profit, and service-based industries require different insights too. It's important to have some basic accounting knowledge, but ideally you want someone with industry familiarity.

7 Questions to include in your interviewing process:

1. What companies/industries do you have bookkeeping experience in?

2. What computer software programs are you familiar with? Word? Excel? QuickBooks®? Other?

3. How do you continue to improve your skills?

4. How do you trouble shoot when you have a problem?

5. What time management secrets do you use to ensure projects are completed on time?

6. What are the basic financial statements and why are they important?

7. How will they help you be accountable to the details of record keeping? Some feel uneasy about holding their boss "accountable", but that is exactly what you need!

Hiring employees should never be taken lightly, especially when they are going to be doing your bookkeeping! Without good financial reports, you have no idea how your business is doing. Garbage In = Garbage Out. Input is critical to having a successful business report that you can utilize in your management decisions. These same requirements should be incorporated if you are hiring an outside firm to do your bookkeeping also. These 5 Tips for Hiring a GREAT Bookkeeper will help you!

Contact: Pam Newman is a Certified Management Accountant, Author, and Certified QuickBooks® ProAdvisor for Financial and Point-of-Sale software. For more information, visit her website at or call 816.304.4398. Email:

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