A Preview of What's to Come

I want to start by welcoming everyone to 2015. No matter how good or how bad 2014 was, my wish is that we can make this year even better.

One thing I believe is important in business is to regularly improve your skills. This year, I'd like to make this site a great resource for anyone wanting to get better at their company's bookkeeping. Much of the information I have provided here has been big picture topics, but I'm going to be spending more time working on practical lessons on bookkeeping, bookkeeping software, and the other essential tools you use everyday to run your small business.

One big change I'm hoping to implement is the use of different forms of media. This site has been 99% text so far, but I plan to create a lot of screencasts to better illustrate the lessons. Santa got me a shiny new microphone for Christmas so I will be inflicting you with my voice on a regular basis. You've been warned.

I haven't figured out all the details yet. The screencasts will be available somewhere on the site and on YouTube. I'm just not sure if they will appear in the main blog feed or as a separate part of the site. I'm leaning towards a separate page and then a weekly post summarizing any new material.

QuickBooks Online

Another thing I'm going to do this year is take you through my journey with QuickBooks Online. I have put off using it because I didn't have any clients in the market for new software and I just didn't have time to learn it without a good reason. I'm going to make the site my reason so I'll be taking you through the entire process...from opening a new account to day to day bookkeeping. With Intuit making a strong push to QBO, I know my days of using their desktop software are numbered. I don't know how the experiment will end, so we can go through this together.

Support ThatBookkeeper

Finally, I'm going to start offering ways for you to support the site. If you can believe it, I've been working on this site for 5 years now. Other than a handful of unsuccessful ads here and there, the site hasn't generated any money.

I know my posting schedule has been erratic, so I always felt bad about making any money from the site. Of course, if I put on my logical hat for a moment, if the site made a little bit of money each month, I could spend more time here...thus fixing the erratic schedule.

If you get some value from my site and you want to help me pay for the copious amounts of caffeine required to fuel my business, I would greatly appreciate it. This is entirely optional. The blog will always be free, and I'm 95% sure I won't come door to door with my hat out. If you're interested in learning more, here's the link.

Support ThatBookkeeper

Well, that's it for now. I'm really excited about 2015. I have big plans for my business, and I want to hear about your big plans too. What's the one big thing you plan to do this year to take your small business to the next level?

How to Be a Better Bookkeeper

As bookkeepers, we have a certain responsibility. Let’s look at it like this. If the numbers are the lifeblood of a business then it is safe to say that we are the vein that carries that blood. If you don’t like that analogy then consider us the highway that moves the numbers around. No good either? Then I guess what I am trying to say is that we play an important role in the success of our clients. Without proper bookkeeping, there are few ways to go.

The superordinate or perhaps superficial goal of a bookkeeper is to organize, manage and report on the numbers, but I don’t see it as being so black and white. In our relationships with our clients, we have many subordinate goals that are equally important and by striving to achieve these goals, we ultimately become better bookkeepers.

Save the client time

This one is a big one. We have all heard the old saying that time is money. Well guess what, it’s true. This is a big reason why many of our clients outsource to us. Business owners never have enough time in the day and when they outsource the books, they have more time to keep focused on running and growing their business. With each and every client, it is crucial that the bookkeeper assess the unique needs of the business. As bookkeepers, we can easily identify the bookkeeping weak points of a business and focus our efforts designing procedures and systems that make the jobs of the business owner easier and more painless. Hence why it is important that the bookkeeping system used is one that reflects each business that you are helping. When you have a system in place that does more than what the business actually needs, all that you are left with is more questions than answers. The key is to keep it simple and on point so that when the business owner needs to see the numbers or needs to make a business decision, they can find what they need quickly. This credo is not only limited to bookkeeping systems either. It should extend to everything we do for our clients. Keep it simple.

Save the client money

This may seem like an oxymoron. How do you save someone money who is outsourcing a job they can do themselves. There are ways. This is achieved by doing the above (saving time) and also through being organized, consistent, accurate and knowledgeable. More or less, this means being efficient. If you are an outsourced bookkeeper, then think about the reasons why a client has sought your services to begin with. It can almost always be chalked up to lack of time or lack of expertise. By being organized, consistent, accurate and knowledgeable, we not only provide the expertise needed but also give time back to the client. When you think about how costly accounting errors can be, it is easy to see where money can be saved. This is more or less saving the clients from themselves. Essentially, you want to give them value. Which leads to my final point.

Give them value

To finally tie this whole thing together, saving time and saving money adds to increased value. If that wasn’t enough then let’s take this one step further. In my own bookkeeping practice, I often encourage my clients to learn the bookkeeping system inside and out whenever they can. Encourage your clients to do the same. For a lot of people, bookkeeping may be scary because they have never done it before but this is no reason to be scared. If this is the case though, give your clients small tasks such as inputting their gross sales and watch as you help to instill confidence in them. They will notice and trust me, they will be appreciative. As a bookkeeper, my job is not just to manage the books; it is to act as a point of contact for the business owner. They are not just paying for my hands, they are paying for my brain and as long as they are paying, they should have access to all of its wealth. As cheesy as that sounds, your clients will be ecstatic to know that they are not buying a bookkeeper, they are buying a relationship. At the end of the day, the more successful your client is, the more successful you are.

Robyn Bolt is the owner and operator of Sum Bookkeeper, a small business bookkeeping company in Oakville, Ontario. Robyn specializes in a number of areas such as tax preparation, data management systems and reporting. In her spare time, she like to spent time with her growing family.