In this episode of the Mission Business Podcast, Bernard Roesch explains why you should hire someone to manage your books and how to go about doing this for your business.
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Good Record Keeping is Important
Interviewer: Running a business is complicated. Keeping good records isn’t always a priority for you as a business owner. There’s always something with the day to day management of the business that comes up. And also the longer you delay this, the bigger a task it is to catch up on your records. But this can really come back to hurt you later on. For example,
- Not keeping good records might mean that you have a profitability issue in your business that you’re not aware of or even worse,
- Somebody could be committing fraud in your business
If you had good record keeping in place, you would be able to catch that much sooner.
Today what Bernard is going to share with us is why it makes sense to hire someone to actually manage the bookkeeping in your business. He’s also going to share how to do it. It’s actually quite easy to do and not a big task for you as a business owner. We’re going to share how to do it and the next steps that you can do out of today’s episode.
How Would Having a Bookkeeper Benefit Me?
Interviewer: So Bernard, the first question to start things off that I think makes sense to ask is why is it an advantage for the business owner to actually hire somebody to manage their bookkeeping for them?
Bernard: Well it’s an advantage mostly because you as the business owner, you can really free up your time. And you can really be sure that you keep control of the business. What happens when as a business owner you get really busy, you chase clients, you do this, you do that. Then you may fall behind and at that point, things begin to unravel.
- You’re not too sure as to what you owe vendors.
- You’re not too sure who owes you money.
What Happens If I “Do Bookkeeping Myself”?
And things can go from very good to worse until you react and you say, “Gee, I need help. I need somebody to keep me right on the rails, right on track.” And that’s when you know you have to call a bookkeeper.
Interviewer: When you have a bookkeeper, I understand that problems can come up when you’re running a business. But why is it different if you have somebody actually managing the bookkeeping for your business. Why does that make it easier to avoid these types of problems?
Bernard: Yes, it makes it easier because;
- Your bookkeeper is going to be focused on the task of bookkeeping.
- He or she is going to show up on a schedule. So having a bookkeeper will ensure that the bookkeeping function will be performed as needed.
If you don’t have a bookkeeper typically what happens is the bookkeeping function will fall by the wayside.
- You will see clients.
- You will address production problems.
- And low and behold at some point you are going to have issues with finances.
You won’t even know exactly where you are with the business. So having a bookkeeper is like having a tutor – somebody that keeps you on track.
What’s the Process of Working with a Bookkeeper?
Interviewer: What is the typical flow of actually working with a bookkeeper? How often are they going to be updating your records? And as a business owner who is listening to this, what is the listener actually going to get that’s different than what they might have now by just doing their bookkeeping here and there every couple of months? What is the flow of things and what is the business owner’s experience when they have a bookkeeper?
Bernard: Well, the flow always starts mostly with the mail, what comes in. You have to think in terms of inputs and outputs. So as a business owner, you are going to get things in the mail.
- With the US post office mail, you’re going to have things in the mail that could be email. And that will have to be processed in some way. You may get a vendor bill. You need to approve it and pay it.
- You may receive a purchase order.
- You may have to send an invoice to a client.
So it all starts with the mail; and at that point,
- You as the business owner would want to review it and
- Make a decision with it; possibly code the document and then send it to your bookkeeper for processing.
- And the bookkeeper should return some output to you which would be the financial statements or statements of accounts payable, accounts receivable.
So you have to think in terms of process, what you as the business owner will do, and what the bookkeeper will do. It’s sort of a sharing of the bookkeeping task.
How Often Does a Bookkeeper Need to Update My Books?
Interviewer: And with part of that flow, how often do you think the bookkeeper needs to actually be updating your records? And obviously it changes depending on how big the business is. But maybe for a single person or a one or two person shop how often do you think the books need to be updated? And then on the flip side, what about a business that has maybe 20 to 50 employees? How often do those books need to be updated?
Bernard: Well it depends really on the scope of work for the bookkeeper. When we get on the bookkeeping engagements, we always ask the business owner what are the tasks that the business owner will perform. Typically, the business owner will get the mail, may also want to write checks, issue invoices, but not necessarily. It could be that the bookkeeper will be charged with all the bookkeeping functions.
- If the bookkeeper is simply charged with reconciling accounts and producing financial statements, it could be that the bookkeeper can very well come once a month and be just fine.
- If the bookkeeper needs to write checks, then the bookkeeper probably should every couple of weeks.
- If there are many, many transactions, or if the bookkeeper is in charge of billing, sending invoices, then the bookkeeper may come every week or every couple of days or every day depending on the transaction volume and what needs to be done.
So it’s really a function of the transaction volume and the type of activities that the bookkeeper will be charged with.
Interviewer: Okay, that makes a lot of sense.
Does a Bookkeeper Need to Come To My Office?
Interviewer: Now what if you wanted to work with a bookkeeper that wasn’t in a position where they could come to your office. For example, I know a lot of the listeners on this particular podcast aren’t located nearby your particular offices on the east coast, how could you potentially work with those businesses since you seem to understand bookkeeping really well but they may be based in for example, Texas. How would you work a business like that?
Bernard: Well, once again, it ‘s a matter of organizing inputs and outputs. As a bookkeeper you need inputs. So those inputs could be online inputs.
- You might be downloading bank statements.
- You might be receiving vendor invoices by email or it could also be regular mail.
- Some businesses find it’s a better idea just to put all their source materials in an envelope and send it to the bookkeeper.
In any case, really we should think of it in terms of inputs and outputs. As a bookkeeper, you have an inbox and you have an outbox.
- Your inbox is all the source materials, whether it’s paper or email.
- The outbox is really what needs to be going out, the checks, maybe invoices to clients and the actual set of books.
Should I Share Secure Bank Information with a Bookkeeper?
Interviewer: So you’re mentioning a lot of things that are somewhat sensitive material, bank statements, all of those types of things. Can we talk for a moment about the security concerns that a listener might have by basically giving over financial records and banking information to their bookkeeper.
Can you explain two different things?
- First of all, what are some of the security issues that might come up by having a bookkeeper, a third party accessing your financial data? And
- What are some of the things that the business owner can put in place to make sure there are controls against something bad happening by giving that data out?
Bernard: Well, the main thing to keep in mind is that the bookkeeper is necessarily going to be pretty close to your own personal life. And therefore, you should
Always stay involved in the bookkeeping process – So then you know what’s going on. A mistake that business owners sometimes make is they say, “Oh, I hired a bookkeeper. My bookkeeper is going to take care of everything.” As the business owner;
- You want to open all the mail. You want to know what’s going on. You want to look at bank statements.
- You want to project an image that you are involved in the business and you are paying attention.
That’s going to alleviate a lot of problems. At that point, the bookkeeper will handle information.
Restrict access to bank accounts – I also recommend the bookkeeper typically not have access to transactions in bank accounts but simply only has limited access to the bank accounts. And when the bookkeeper is finished with his or her work, you want to
- Review the financial statements,
- Look at a set of accounts receivable and accounts payable reports.
You want to stay involved as the business owner; that’s the best defense against fraud. It’s just not to encourage temptation, simply project an image that you are interested, you’re looking at what is coming in, you’re looking at what is coming out, and you are asking questions. That’s my best recommendation for avoiding fraud or any issues.
Interviewer: So it sounds like between staying really involved in the actual bookkeeping process and knowing what’s going on, and also not giving the actual full keys to the castle and ability to move money in and out of accounts and outside of the business, as long as you kind of keep those two things in place with the bookkeeper, you should be able to have no problem having somebody manage that part of your business.
Quick Summary and Next Actions
Interviewer: In summary, keeping records is really important. I hope you’ve learned that from today’s interview. But it’s also difficult to do right if you don’t have somebody there to focus on it and to do it for you.
If you’re interested in working with Bernard or learning more about how to use this in your business, visit MissionBusinessPodcast.com. There are a lot of resources from Bernard there on how to run your business and different aspects of the financial part of your business. And Bernard would be happy to discuss how to get bookkeeping set up correctly and managed in your business.
Once again, it’s MissionBussinessPodcast.com. Thanks for your time today Bernard.
Bernard: You’re welcome.