Seven Questions to Ask When You’re Hiring a Bookkeeper

find a bookkeeper

Do you need help managing your growing business? Or are you just tired of staring at QuickBooks? Regardless of your motivation, finding a bookkeeper is a significant first step toward freeing up your time and streamlining your financials.

But finding the perfect bookkeeper for your business? Easier said than done.

With your business’s financial health relying on your decision, we’ve gathered what we think are seven of the most important questions for you to ask when hiring a bookkeeper. Asking the right questions up front can be the difference between going the right direction or veering your business off course.

Here are seven questions that will help you decide if a bookkeeper is right for you:

What should I expect regarding the project scope?

Chances are you know exactly what you need your new bookkeeper to help with, but most bookkeepers offer a wide variety of services. Even though in your mind what you need might go without saying, it’s vital to talk through your needs before agreeing to work with each other.

Creating clarity around business needs and setting clear expectations will ensure a smooth-running partnership.

You might want your bookkeeper to send 1099’s to your contractors or take care of your allocations, but without a comprehensive (and agreed upon) scope upfront, you might be asking for something that your new bookkeeper is not prepared to give. At the same time, you may need something that you hadn’t considered yet!

How many other businesses do you serve in my industry or at my income level?

Will your new bookkeeper understand the specific needs of your business or industry?

Regardless of previous work history, ask if they have experience with businesses similar to yours. Asking about who they have kept books for in the past allows you to ensure that they have an understanding of your unique business needs—and enables you to anticipate potential obstacles in your work relationship.
Finding out more about their background will help create a more seamless experience for you and them.

What are your professional qualifications?

The right bookkeeper for your business doesn’t necessarily mean they have to have an MBA in Accounting, but they need to have training and awareness of accounting principles.

The reality is there are no certifications necessary to become a bookkeeper, which is why asking about professional credentials and qualifications is so important! Don’t assume the depth of experience. Just ask.

Of course, we believe so strongly in using Profit First bookkeeping principles that we’re Advanced Certified Profit First Professionals. If you want to use Profit First, we recommend finding a certified pro!

How do you communicate with clients?

You’re busy. That’s one of the reasons you need a bookkeeper. The last thing you want is to hire a bookkeeper who will monopolize your time with ineffective (or excessive) communication that frustrates you and pulls attention away from growing your business.

Ask your bookkeeper-to-be how they typically communicate with their clients and why they have decided that is the most effective communication form.

You are looking for a candidate who is effective while being concise and respectful of your time and communication preferences.

How will you keep my account information secure?

This is a big one! You are sharing sensitive information with your bookkeeper. You need to know they have a plan for your safety. For our clients, we use a secure portal called SmartVault to transmit information.

Your information’s safety is critically important to us, and any bookkeeper worth their salt will feel the same.

Will I be billed based on hours?

Bookkeepers may charge on an hourly basis or at a fixed retainer rate. We prefer to work from a fixed rate for a few reasons.

We want you to be in control of your finances. Part of working from a fixed rate ensures that there are no surprises on your end. You know what’s coming, and you can prepare accordingly.

If you have a unique project you’d like addressed, we will scope the project ahead of time and adjust our rate from there. We want to help you create financial stability in your business in every way.

Will you have access to our bank accounts?

Different bookkeepers work differently. At Fit For Profit, we don’t perform any financial transactions on your behalf because we don’t ever want there to be a question in your mind about any transactions.

Some bookkeepers feel differently and will perform your allocations for you. We feel that this takes ownership of your numbers away from you—which is the opposite of how Profit First should feel.

Fit For Profit is all about making your finances work for you. We use a third-party app to retrieve your statements for us and we do everything we can to make it easy on you.

The right bookkeeper should be passionate, knowledgeable, and aligned with your needs and vision. Take the time to ask questions and explore before deciding on who will be best for your business. We know you’re busy, but finding your dream bookkeeper will take a little time.

If you have any questions or are still feeling unsure, give us a call. We’re always happy to help.

Shannon Simmons

Shannon has been consulting with small businesses for over 10 years. After 2 years in public accounting she saw a need to work for small business owners to teach them how to grow financially healthy businesses. She has built on her Master of Accountancy degree from Manchester University by becoming a Certified Profit First Professional and a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor. When she’s not meeting with entrepreneurs or assessing their businesses, she enjoys time with her husband and 2 children serving in their community, playing and watching sports, marveling at nature or reading a good book.

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