How To Find, Hire, & Work With A Bookkeeper
How To Find, Hire, & Work With A Bookkeeper
by Cameron McCool, Bench Accounting
It’s no secret that most business owners loathe bookkeeping. It’s a boring task, but it’s also one that you can’t avoid if you want your business to succeed.
The catch is that as your business grows, you’ll hit a tipping point where it’s better to hand off bookkeeping tasks so you can use your time to focus on other areas of your operation.
You’ll hit a tipping point where it’s better to hand off bookkeeping tasks so you can use your time to focus on other areas of your operation
If you’ve never worked with a bookkeeper before, we’re going to break down the specifics of what a bookkeeper can do to make your life easier, and how you can find one that’s right for your business.
What Will a Bookkeeper Actually do for Your Fitness Business?
Bookkeepers are sticklers for accuracy, and they hold specialized knowledge on financial regulations and tax filing. Their role is to help you record daily transactions, produce invoices, complete payroll, and produce tax-ready financial statements that will help you and your accountant run and grow your business.
Here are some of the positive kickbacks you’ll get from working with a bookkeeper:
They produce monthly financial statements: Each month, your bookkeeper will produce a balance sheet, an income statement, and a cash flow statement. These financial statements are like the dashboard of your business’s financial health; they give you an instant overview of how your business is performing financially, and they’re critical in helping you and your accountant make the strategic financial decisions required to grow your business.
They make sure you file a better tax return: Bookkeepers know the ins and outs of what you can claim on your tax return, and they know how to categorize deductions correctly. They’ll ensure that every deduction is recorded and ready for filing come tax time.
They can save you money in accounting fees: Generally, bookkeeping fees are cheaper than those charged by your accountant or CPA, so having your bookkeeper take care of the ongoing financial admin for you will bring your accounting fees down. A great bookkeeper will also ensure that there are zero errors in your books, which means your accountant won’t charge you additional fees for tidying up your books before filing your tax return.
They save you from bookkeeping hell: The most valuable thing a professional bookkeeper or bookkeeping service will do for you is remove the task of bookkeeping from your life for good. This means you’ll have more time to work with your clients, focus on marketing and growth, and enjoy more of your down time.
When Should You Hire a Bookkeeper?
Your life will be that much easier if you hire a bookkeeper to take care of the books early on. Reason being, the sooner you start working with a bookkeeper, the sooner you’ll stop worrying about whether or not you’re doing the books correctly. You’ll also have access to monthly reports that help identify where your business needs to improve in order to grow and become more profitable.
To help determine when you should pull the trigger and get a pro to help you with the books, ask yourself the following:
- Is bookkeeping taking up too much of your time?
- Is bookkeeping something that stresses you out?
- Are you worried that you’re not categorizing expenses correctly, missing tax deductions, or not reconciling your accounts regularly?
If you answered ‘no’ to all of the above, you probably don’t need a bookkeeper just yet. If you answered yes to any of the above, then it’s time to start thinking about professional bookkeeping support.
Note that if you’ve been doing your books for a while, there’ll be a transition process while your bookkeeper takes over and gets everything up to speed.
How Can You Find a Great Bookkeeper?
The best advice we can offer you is to work with someone who really gets your business. Ask contacts in the fitness industry to refer you to any bookkeepers or online bookkeeping services they recommend. Once you’ve got a few leads, here are some criteria you can use to make the final decision on who to work with:
Do they work online or in-person?
Do you need to have in-person access to your bookkeeper? If so, hire a local bookkeeper to handle the books. Are you comfortable communicating with your bookkeeper via email and on the phone, and would you prefer to have everything accessible online? If so, check out an online bookkeeping service like Bench or hire a virtual bookkeeper to take care of your books.
Do they have experience with other clients in the fitness industry?
While businesses on tight budgets have been known to hire students to do the books, bookkeepers with formal training and experience are far more likely to do a better job for you and your business. Any bookkeeper you hire should have specialized knowledge in local, state, and federal tax regulations. It would also be ideal if they’ve worked with other people in the fitness industry.
Do you like the way they communicate?
The whole point of hiring a professional bookkeeper is so that you don’t have to bury yourself in tax and accounting jargon. That being said, it’s important that you know how bookkeeping works, and that you can interpret all of the information in your monthly financial statements. Make sure that the bookkeeper you hire is someone you can reach out to with questions at any time, and who will communicate answers to you in language you understand.
Do they offer a risk-free trial?
When choosing a bookkeeper, work with someone who really gets your business.
At Bench we offer business owners one month of free bookkeeping, so they can trial our service risk free. Other services and local bookkeepers may be willing to do the same, so it pays to ask before you start paying for ongoing services.
How to Work With a Bookkeeper
The longer you work with a bookkeeper, the better they’ll become at anticipating your needs as a client and balancing your business’s books. Here are a few things you can work on to make the process as efficient as possible:
Find an easy system for submitting important documents and receipts
Going paperless is the way of the future. Working with a bookkeeper who’ll let you submit digital copies of your receipts will make your life a whole lot easier.
Online bookkeeping services will often have their own process for easily uploading statements, receipts, and other financial documents. If you work with a local bookkeeper, see if you can arrange to upload your receipts to Dropbox and share the folder with your bookkeeper, or if you can snap a photo of your documents with your smartphone and submit them to your bookkeeper via email.
If you have a mountain of receipts to submit to your bookkeeper when you first start working together, use a service like Shoeboxed’s Magic Envelope: mail them off, and Shoeboxed will scan and upload your receipts to the cloud for you.
Get documents to your bookkeeper on time
Your bookkeeper can’t reconcile your accounts or get your books ready for tax time if they’re missing documents from your end. Have a clear line of communication between you and your bookkeeper, and make sure you submit everything they request on time.
Connect on a regular basis
Even though your bookkeeper will handle the books for you, it’s important that you always understand how to interpret everything that’s in your financial statements. Talk to your bookkeeper regularly to resolve any questions or areas of concerns that arise.
If you have any more questions about finding, hiring, or working with a bookkeeper, tweet them to us, or post them in the comments section below. We’d be happy to help you out.
All Fitness Revolution License Partners get a free month of bookkeeping to trial Bench risk free, and 20% off their first six months.
About the Author
Cameron McCool writes for Bench, the online bookkeeping service that pairs you with a dedicated bookkeeping team and elegant software to do your books for you. He’s also a cyclist in summer and snowboarder in winter.