5 More Ways a Bookkeeper Can Help Your Business

Successful financial plansA while back, I wrote about 3 reasons to hire a bookkeeper. These were more big picture examples, so today I wanted to talk about very specific tasks I (or another bookkeeper) can help you with on a regular basis. I think there are a lot of misconceptions about what a bookkeeper is and isn’t. Also, every bookkeeper is different. Some people, when they hear I’m a bookkeeper, naturally start asking tax questions. Although I happen to do tax preparation, that’s not the case for many bookkeepers. I think I’ll write another post about misconceptions, but for now, let’s go over a few specific ways a bookkeeper can help your small business. These won’t apply to all bookkeepers, so always be sure to ask very specific questions before you hire someone.

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Personal finances


If you’re having a hard time keeping track of your money at work, you might also have the same problem at home. Do you find that you’re getting a few too many warning letters from your utility companies? Would you be shocked to find out just how much you spend on take out each month? Of course, you could be tracking this yourself with Quicken or Mint.com, but if you have a bookkeeper keeping your business records organized, that same person could do the same for your personal finances. A bookkeeper can show you where your money is going, help pay your bills on time, and suggest the best way to increase your net worth.

Tax preparation


Many people will default to calling up a national tax service every year to help them with their returns. I have heard of some disturbingly high fees they pay to have their personal and business tax returns completed. Before you hire another company, ask your bookkeeper if they could be doing these returns for you. If you are a sole proprietor, the income and expenses will be recorded on a personal T1 return (or the equivalent in your country), which is within the scope of many bookkeepers. Plus, if they have been handling your business and personal finances throughout the year, most of the work is already done. Corporate returns will be on a case by case basis. Depending on the details of your corporation, T2 returns can be done by a bookkeeper too. More complicated returns, or ones that require certain accompanying reports, will have to be completed by an accountant.

Year end financial statements


If you run an incorporated business, you’re probably used to having to spend thousands every year on an accountant. The accountant usually completes your corporate tax return, as well as a set of financial statements. Did you know that some of these could be done by a bookkeeper? If your business has significant loans, the lender will probably insist that the financial statements be prepared by an accountant. If, however, this doesn’t apply to you, those same statements can be prepared by a qualified bookkeeper. And, they can usually be done for a reduced rate. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a reason an accountant charges more money. They have extensive training and expertise in this area. If you have a complex business, I would still recommend you hire an accountant. If your business is fairly straightforward, it might be a good idea to ask your bookkeeper instead.

Consulting and training


Maybe you really don’t need someone to help you with your record keeping. Instead, you just need some advice from someone who has experience in that aspect of your business. Maybe you bought a new program, and just need some help setting it up. Bookkeepers often do consulting and training too. You wouldn’t hire a full time graphic designer if all you need is one logo, right? There’s also no reason to hire a full time bookkeeper if all you need is help getting started. Bookkeepers can help you get your software configured properly, give you advice on a filing system, or even what banks are the best to deal with.

Occasional “heavy lifting”


As in the last example, you don’t always need to hire a bookkeeper on a full or even part time basis. Maybe you’re really busy, and need help getting a few months caught up in your system. If tax season is coming up, you might just need help getting your records organized before you send them off to the accountant. Instead of paying an accountant’s hourly rate, it would be much cheaper to get a bookkeeper to do some of the heavy lifting before submitting your books.

I hope these will give you a few new ideas on how a bookkeeper can help you with your small business. Do you have any tips of your own? Do you disagree with any of these? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.