The relationship you have with your bookkeeper is crucial to the success of your business. Follow these tips to learn how to best work with your new or existing bookkeeper.
Many small businesses grow to a point that DIY bookkeeping will no longer cut it. Hiring a bookkeeper can take many time-consuming tasks off of your plate, and provide financial expertise that can help your business grow.
However, poor communication and processes can lead to confusion and added work for you. If you’re just starting to work with a bookkeeper or are looking to make your existing relationship more effective, make sure you’re getting the full value of your bookkeeper by following these best practices.
Be Prepared for Every Meeting
Prepare well before each meeting with your bookkeeper, especially if it’s the first meeting. That means organizing (and potentially digitizing) any receipts, letters, or other documents that you will hand over to your bookkeeper. Not only does this show respect for their time, it will save you money if you’re paying your bookkeeper by the hour. If you’re unsure what your bookkeeper needs, ask them.
If you’ve been working with your bookkeeper for a while, set some time aside beforehand to go over any changes that happened in your business. This includes any planned changes or business development opportunities you’d like to pursue. We’ll talk in more detail about that later in the article.
Clear Communication is Key to work with your bookkeeper
Your bookkeeper is the financial window into your business, so it’s crucial to communicate with them often. At the beginning of a working relationship, it’s best to meet face to face. If it’s not feasible because your bookkeeper works remotely, schedule video calls. Every two weeks is optimal.
Once you’ve settled into a routine, you should meet with your bookkeeper at least once a month (virtually or in-person) to go over the monthly reports. If you have any questions, this is the time to ask them. A good bookkeeper should not only provide the reports but also teach you how to understand them. After a while, you should be able to work with the reports mostly on your own.
In the previous section, we mentioned talking to your bookkeeper about what’s going on in your business. The most helpful tool you can use for this conversation is a business plan. If you communicate to your bookkeeper where your business is heading, the two of you can better discuss different scenarios and possible problems that might arise. Your bookkeeper can also help you focus on measuring the right KPIs (key performance indicators).
What Your Bookkeeper Should Deliver to You
Exactly what you will need from your bookkeeper will depend on your company, but the most important reports that every bookkeeper should give to you at the end of the month are:
- Cash flow statement — shows how much has been spent and earned, plus a prognosis for the next three to six months
- Balance sheet — a snapshot of the financial situation at the end of the month
- Income statement — shows revenue and expenses for the month
If you’re preparing to raise money or apply for funding, your bookkeeper can also help you with any financial documents you might need. The FINSYNC dashboard can provide access to these reports as well to keep you and your bookkeeper updated and on the same page.
Other tasks that your bookkeeper can help you with include:
- Monitoring fixed assets
- Overseeing company debt and compliance with debt agreements
- Preparing information for and assisting in the annual audit
- Making annual budgets
- Complying with local, state, and federal government reporting requirements
What Your Bookkeeper Needs From You
Here is what your bookkeeper needs from you in order to do their job in the best way possible:
- All incoming bills. This includes invoices from creditors, office supplies, insurance, utilities, equipment repairs and maintenance, etc. In other words, anything that your company has purchased on credit.
- Customer invoices. If your bookkeeper also does the invoicing for you, you can skip this step. Otherwise, you’ll need to provide them with any invoices you send to your customers.
- Any receipts for cash payments you’ve made in your company’s name.
- All of the details about salaries. This includes wages you’ve taken out for yourself and your staff, in addition to all time sheets.
- Bank statements for every account connected to your business. If you trust your bookkeeper, you can provide them with access to your bank to get the statements. Even if you connect your accounts to FINSYNC electronically, you’ll still want to provide PDF statements so that your bookkeeper can complete the account reconciliation.
- New lease and loan agreements, and updates on the existing ones.
If this seems a bit overwhelming to you, don’t worry. A professional bookkeeper, which you can easily find through FINSYNC’s Network, will let you know what they need way in advance.
Building a solid long-term relationship with your bookkeeper will take time. Schedule frequent meetings, even if they’re over the phone or video conference. If something is unclear to you, ask questions.
Communicate any changes you plan to make in your business early. The more information you can provide to your bookkeeper, the better they can help you understand your business from a financial standpoint.