Outsourced bookkeeper

What to Look for in an Outsourced Bookkeeper

For many small business owners, bookkeeping is a necessary evil. It’s complex, time-consuming, and, when done incorrectly, can have significant repercussions. If you are currently handling your books and feeling overwhelmed, or if you’ve had a bad experience with a bookkeeper who wasn’t up to par, the thought of searching for a reliable bookkeeping partner can feel both daunting and frustrating. But the right outsourced bookkeeping can transform your business management, allowing you to focus on sales and operations – where you are needed most. 

To make sure you get this right on the first shot, follow this guide to selecting the best outsourced bookkeeper for your business.

What to Look for in a Bookkeeper

Finding a bookkeeper is more than searching for a vendor; it’s about finding a teammate—a professional who understands the importance of accuracy and timeliness in financial reporting. The ideal candidate will possess:

  • Experience with your software
  • Excellent communication skills
  • The courage to ask questions, not assume answers
  • Meticulous attention to detail
  • Rigorous and disciplined work ethic

Experience with Your Accounting Software

Your bookkeeper should have experience with the accounting software your business uses. This ensures they can hit the ground running without a steep learning curve. Ask for specific examples of how they’ve used this software in past roles to gauge their proficiency.

Excellent Communication Skills

Effective communication is critical for outsourced bookkeepers. Your bookkeeper should be able to explain financial concepts clearly and concisely, ensuring you’re always in the loop about your business’s financial health. You can test this in interviews with questions like, “explain to me how accumulated depreciation works.”

The Courage to Ask You Questions, Not Assume Answers

A good bookkeeper asks questions. This trait shows they’re committed to accuracy and understand the importance of getting it right. During interviews, notice if the candidate asks insightful questions about your business—that’s a good sign.

Meticulous Attention to Detail

Bookkeeping demands a high level of precision. Small errors can lead to big problems. When we interview bookkeepers at CFOshare, we issue them written tests requiring detailed review and double-checking answers.

Rigorous and Disciplined Work Ethic

Outsourcing bookkeeping should increase reliability, not leave you wondering if tasks will be completed correctly and on time. Your bookkeeper should be someone who meets deadlines and maintains the highest standards of accuracy and professionalism, even during the busiest times. Discuss their approach to managing high-volume work periods and how they prioritize tasks.

Common Mistakes when Outsourcing Bookkeeping

Watch out for these traps when shopping for a small business bookkeeper:

  • Do not hire your CPA. Income tax agencies offer cheap bookkeeping to keep staff busy in the off-season. But these services take a back-seat in tax season, and you may wait months to get your financial statements.
  • Do not hire an independent bookkeeper. Independent 1099 bookkeepers have varying quality and are difficult to vet and supervise. Unsupported by teams and best practices, some create more work than they save.
  • Do not go with the cheapest option. You may be tempted to hire a cheap service, perhaps one leaning heavily on overseas labor or AI. You get what you pay for – and the cost of bad financial reporting is magnitudes larger than fees for good bookkeeping services.

How to Find a Good Bookkeeper

Outsourcing bookkeeping involves more than just finding someone with the right skills; it’s about finding a partner who can seamlessly integrate with your team and add value to your business. Here’s how to start:

  1. Search the web for outsourced bookkeeping firms. Begin by casting a wide net. Personal recommendations can also be invaluable, providing insight into a firm’s reliability and quality of service.
  2. Interview each firm, using the checklist. Evaluate their responses against the key attributes you’re looking for. This step is crucial for identifying firms that align with your business needs and values.
  3. Request a written proposal from each firm and compare the terms side-by-side. Pay special attention to contractual commitments and automatic renewals. Good bookkeepers have month-to-month flexibility, not 12-month contracts.
  4. Hold a follow-up call with your top 2 or 3 choices and ask some follow-up questions to demonstrate their expertise. For example, ask how they would handle a specific bookkeeping challenge your business has faced or their approach to staying updated with tax laws and accounting standards.
  5. Onboard with your new firm. Once you’ve selected your firm, they will walk you through an onboarding process. If they do not have an established process, this is a red flag!  
Download our Bookkeeper Interview Checklist

The Right Outsourced Bookkeeper

Having the right bookkeeper is vital for your business, and selecting the right outsourced bookkeeping service is a significant decision. It requires a thoughtful approach and careful consideration of each candidate’s attributes and how they align with your business’s needs. By following these steps and keeping an eye out for the key qualities outlined above, you can find a bookkeeping partner that not only meets your expectations but exceeds them, allowing you to focus on growing your business and achieving your goals.Interested in learning about CFOshare’s outsourced bookkeeping services?  Book your free consultation now to see if we are a good fit for your business.

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