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3 Key Questions to Ask When Choosing a Bookkeeper

July 18, 2019 / by Indre Bauza

Note: This blog first appeared in the Arlington Chamber of Commerce Blog.

Beautiful young lady thinking with question marks overheadSmall-business owners sometimes have trouble delegating responsibilities. We get it. Once you've invested so much time (and money, in many cases) in launching a business, it's difficult to relinquish control over key aspects of that business — especially the finances.

But as your business grows, you eventually realize there literally aren't enough hours in the day to do everything yourself. And unless your goal in launching the business was to become a full-time bookkeeper, that's one of the first areas you should consider outsourcing. Have questions regarding how to go about it? Here are some answers.

1. Will the bookkeeping services provider help you focus on your business rather than on bookkeeping?
The best bookkeeping services providers understand their role is to minimize your involvement in bookkeeping so that you can refocus on your core strengths. And they'll assert their expertise in accomplishing that — sometimes from day one.

Here's a real-world example: Having been caught on the DIY bookkeeping treadmill with his first business, a Florida entrepreneur vowed not to repeat that mistake with his second, an executive networking startup. "I had a bookkeeper before we even had our first member," he said.

For others, the realization that they need bookkeeping help doesn't come until the business is well-established. Case in point: A Louisiana custom-home builder recognized they had fallen behind the times when it came to cloud-based bookkeeping technology, and their staff didn't have the bandwidth to learn it on the fly. An outsourced bookkeeping services provider migrated the builder's books to the cloud. They also provided "real-time, in-the-field decision-making capabilities that we didn't have before," said the company's building specialist, who had also been struggling as the de facto bookkeeper.

For that company, outsourcing "completely relieved the burden of bookkeeping on a growing small business," the building specialist said.

2. Will your bookkeeping services provider set up systems and processes that will scale with your business?
Think about your five- and ten-year goals — will the bookkeeper be able to handle the plans you have for your business without having to implement additional systems and processes during a busy period of growth? Will the systems and processes be robust enough to handle potential changes — for example, if you have a services company and later add a product, or if you add a new location to your business? Look for a bookkeeping services provider who can set up processes that will handle your business’ growth with minimal growing pains.

3. Does the bookkeeping services provider have the expertise you need for your business — even if your business evolves?
Scalability isn't just a matter of adjusting to volume — it's about adapting to changes in scope, too. For example, if your small manufacturing firm lands a government contract, your bookkeeping services provider will need to understand highly complex DCAA compliance requirements.

In addition, many fields require specialized bookkeeping knowledge, whether it's maintaining trust accounts for attorneys or navigating the changing nature of billing practices in the medical profession. As the head of a successful surgical practice noted, "Making sure that every patient's payments and [insurance] reimbursements are accounted for and properly credited to their accounts has become a much more complex process." In her case, outsourced bookkeeping services "really helped me manage the financial aspects of my business, which has also helped me manage my time."

And the Answer Is …
You may have additional questions regarding the specific ways that outsourced bookkeeping services can help your business. But if you've read this far, the question of whether to use outsourced booking services has already been answered.

Topics: Small Business Advice, Northern Virginia, Bookkeeping Services, Business Advice

Indre Bauza

Written by Indre Bauza

Indre Bauza is Managing Director of Supporting Strategies | Northern Virginia.

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