Why is it Important to Have a Bookkeeper?
Bookkeepers are largely responsible for the time consuming but very important role of maintaining company accounting records. If you are a freelancer, contractor, consultant or small business owner, and decide to do this function yourself, it may fall to your life partner or other family member or to you to do this late at night or at the last minute as accounting deadlines loom.
Obviously, there are some hazards with this approach. Under law, you must keep records that specify and explain all your transactions and how these relate to all taxes for which a freelancer, contractor, consultant or small business is liable. These records must be kept for a minimum of five years, and there are penalties for not keeping proper records. Choosing a bookkeeper to prepare these properly and in a timely manner is an important first step.
How do You Find a Suitable Bookkeeper?
Finding and choosing a bookkeeper is not easy, particularly if you are not prepared for the search! Bookkeepers may be found on the internet, as a significant number of these are small businesses themselves, and will have their own web site and / or may be listed in business directories such as HirePulse, or with bookkeeping associations.
It is highly recommended that you do your research, and interview a few potential bookkeepers, before choosing one that you can work with. Before going ‘shopping’ for a bookkeeper, make a list of the questions to ask them so that you can form a view on whether they are likely to meet your business and personal needs.
Things to Think About - Make an Informed Decision
Things to consider should include:
- How long have they been a bookkeeper?
- What sort of clients do they have?
- How many clients do they have?
- Do they delegate the work to subordinates or subcontractors and if yes, do they check and supervise this work?
- How did they acquire their bookkeeping skills – ask to see qualifications / certificates / years of experience – especially with Australian practices?
- Can they provide a client references for you to talk to?
- Do they belong to a bookkeeping association, and if yes, which one?
- What support do they have for when they are sick, go on holiday, or are otherwise not available due to family illness and such like?
- What cover is available if you use a bookkeeping firm – ie do they have people available at short notice if your dedicated / usual bookkeeper is away?
- What computer packages do they use, how long have they been using them, and are there any data interface issues with your own business software?
- How do they get their business (try to see how much of it is by referral)?
- Compare their pricing against various service providers.
It is important to make the right choice in your selection, so asking the above questions of more than one firm can be very useful. Invest the time to make this choice, as getting it right early will mean that your business is better placed to meet its accounting requirements.
Bookkeepers - Being Prepared for Your Clients
If you are a bookkeeper, either as a contractor, freelancer or running a small business, then being prepared for your clients’ questions, like the ones above, will help them in their selection process. If you are able to share information with them in anticipation of their questions, you will find the 'sale' process far easier.
Being prepared is one of the best ways to impress new clients, but remember to listen and to find out as much about them as you can, as this will enable you to formulate a personalised solution.
Doing your homework after you get the initial information inquiry from them is critical, but equally important is having the right answers for them. Just sending out standard information is not going to deliver you a high sales conversion rate.
Honesty and preparedness go a long way to developing client confidence, as well as the first impression you make. In this early stage of relationship building, the ability to make clients comfortable with you and with your honesty, results in you being able to “push back” and be able to talk with them on a more frank level. That means both parties are dealing with real facts, and are able to reach an agreement, with the right information. If you can get to truly understand and can meet their needs, you are more likely to make the sale.