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Do I need a bookkeeper and how do I find the right one?

When you run your own business, you really need to become a jack of all trades. But in reality, we can’t excel in all areas of business. Hiring a bookkeeper is a great way to hand over the task of receipts, invoices and payroll, for example. It will leave you time to focus on other parts of your business and it could improve your bottom line.

How do you know when to hire a bookkeeper though and how do you choose the right bookkeeper? Here are our top tips.

Do I really need a bookkeeper?

The tasks that can be undertaken by your bookkeeper will vary. All bookkeepers should be able to balance the books, cross reference those figures against bank statements and provide a monthly report of your financial position.

Some bookkeepers will also be able to manage payroll needs, create and send invoices so you can get paid, as well as making sure you pay the invoices from suppliers.

So, with this knowledge, if you’re still wondering whether you need a bookkeeper, the answer is probably yes. To some extent anyway.

Having a bookkeeper can:

  • save you time
  • help manage your cash flow, and
  • make annual tax returns run more smoothly and quickly.

Understand what you need

Before you look for a bookkeeper, it’s worth making sure you know what you need. The services you require will depend on the type of business you run, how many transactions you make, how many employees you have, if you need help collecting late payments, etc.

Being clear on this will make looking for a bookkeeper much easier.

Top tips to find the right bookkeeper

If you’ve decided to hire a bookkeeper, think about the following tips, to make sure you choose one that’s right for you.

  1. Consider the accounting software they use

The introduction of Making Tax Digital — the move by the Government to make it easier for us to pay our tax and make less mistakes in the process — means that accounting software is a necessity for many businesses now. Make sure the accounting software used by the bookkeeper enables you to submit VAT returns and the necessary documents to HMRC. You don’t want to face fines if you can’t submit online as requested.

  1. Are they local?

Now, with an increasing amount of bookkeeping done online, you may feel that being local isn’t important. For some businesses it won’t matter. But, you may want to see your bookkeeper in person or make sure they can come to your business to see it for themselves. A bit time consuming and expensive if you’re miles away.

  1. Do they understand your business?

The principles of bookkeeping will be the same if the client is a hairdresser or a marketing agency. However, if your bookkeeper takes the time to get to know you and your business, they’re going to be better placed to advise you. Beware of those who don’t ask too many questions.

  1. Do they come recommended?

If you have a local business group or network, ask around and see if you can get a recommendation for a bookkeeper. Even better, if you can find out from someone in the same line of business as you. When looking on any bookkeeper websites, look to see if they have a testimonials page.

Another helpful resource is the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers. You can put in your post code to find recommended bookkeepers near you.

  1. Do you actually need a full-service accountant?

A bookkeeper will help to keep the day-to-day financial needs of your business running smoothly. But, consider how a full-service accountant could help with annual tax returns and the long-term financial health of your business.

Many accountancy firms provide bookkeeping, as well as business advice. They will be able to help you and your business run in the most tax efficient way. They may also be able to introduce you to other business services, such as; legal or financial advice.

It’s possible to get these services separately, but consider the savings you could make if you have one adviser who is able to support you across multiple aspects of your financial needs. At THP, whether it’s cloud bookkeeping and accounting, shareholders agreements, tax planning, auditing or just general business advice, there’s always someone who’s seen it before.

How to hire a Bookkeeper?

If all of this information has wetted your appetite, take some time to look for suitable bookkeepers (or accountants). Once you have a shortlist, speak to them on the phone and if possible, meet them in person. Don’t be afraid to ask them lots of questions. You’re going to be giving them a big responsibility so you need to feel confident you’ve made the right choice.

For more practical advice and business insights, you can follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Avatar for Liz Cordell
About Liz Cordell

I’m an experienced copywriter, with a great attention to detail. Having previously held positions at a global publisher, a top 100 law firm and a Big Four professional services firm, I now work with clients across a range of industries. Whether it’s new content for a website or creating interesting blogs for my clients, I can create engaging copy that doesn’t take a lifetime to read.

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