Bookkeepers: not as expensive as you think.

There are more than a few reasons why I didn’t end up with a career in sales. When I sold computers, I had no problem telling a customer that another store had what they needed. I was also prone to underselling someone if I felt it better suited their needs and budget. Most of those customers were happy with the honesty…my employers were not.

The big problem with running my own business is that I have to be in sales again. If I don’t “sell” enough of you on the benefits of my bookkeeping services, it tends to have a negative impact on my bank account.

In the true Eric tradition, I thought I’d undersell you today. I have a feeling that there is a misconception surrounding bookkeepers. If I’m wrong, let me know.

The Theory

Many of you see bookkeepers as an expensive addition to your small business. Sure, the big companies have accounting departments, but individuals starting a home business certainly can’t afford a bookkeeper. Some of you believe it’s an all or nothing scenario. Either you’ve got someone working 20-40 hours per week in the office or you’re doing it all yourself.

The hourly rates of bookkeepers (and other professionals) also scares you off. In Canada, according to Intuit, the average hourly rate of a bookkeeper is $35. My rate is currently below that average at $30/hour. So, since you have that 20-40 hour work week in your mind, you now assume that it’s going to cost you between $700-1,400/month to hire a bookkeeper.

The Reality

Most of the time, if you’re running a business by yourself, you don’t need anywhere near 20 hours worth of bookkeeping per week. In fact, some of you don’t even need a bookkeeper on a monthly basis. Many times, as long as you stay organized, all you need is a bookkeeper to look over the books once or twice a year, just before you send them off to the accountant at tax time. Even if you need someone on a regular basis, it might only take an hour each week to stay up to date. That’s $30/week to take the guesswork out of your new business. Not as bad as you thought, right?

Obviously, each business is different. If you want someone else handling all of our invoicing, budgeting, bank deposits, and government remittances, then you’ll need those 20-40 hours. Like with anything else, the best first step is to plan out your needs.

The Solution

Sit down and figure out what you need to track. If it’s just you, then payroll won’t be a major job. If you don’t need to track inventory, you could do your own invoicing with something like Freshbooks. And, as long as you keep your business transactions in their own bank accounts, keeping track of cash flow should be a snap.

Next, sit down (virtually or literally) with a bookkeeper and discuss your options. You’re not on the clock, so just take your time and ask all the questions you want. In the end, I think you’ll be surprised by how little it will actually cost.