Many entrepreneurs enlist the help of a financial professional, but not all of them use it on a full-time basis. Using a part-time accountant or bookkeeper is a viable option to reduce costs and get the help you need at a level appropriate to your business. There are many finance skill sets out there and it’s important to recognize what type you need so that you hire the right level of help at the right time. For your new business, you’ll likely need to make some decisions regarding two finance positions that are typically needed right away: bookkeepers and accountants. Both can be hired on a part-time or full-time basis.
What does a bookkeeper do?
A bookkeeper generally will record all your day-to-day transactions and can help you run your payroll, pay bills and create invoices. A bookkeeper can help to ensure your financial information is up-to-date, correctly recorded and consistent, and may even be able to create key reports such as a Statement of Operations or a Statement of Financial Position. If you don’t want to deal with all the data entry or worry about your ability to track things properly, a bookkeeper is the right type of help for your small business.
What does an accountant do?
Accountants help you make sense of your financial information so that you can understand it more completely and make fully-informed financial decisions. Accountants typically do a greater deal of analysis of your financial affairs, would set up your financial process to ensure everything is being recorded correctly, and complete your income tax return and financial statements.
When to use who?
Of course, these are generalizations and many bookkeepers can do some accounting work and many accountants may do bookkeeping work as well.
Accountants should be brought in early for consultation about how your business will operate, things to watch for and to ensure your books are set up correctly. After this, bookkeepers can help with the transactional aspects of your business to ensure all the information is entered correctly and in a timely manner to make it useful. An accountant can help you prepare your tax return and can be brought in to help your understand your overall financial situation or provide advice when you must make important or strategic financial decisions.
Making the most out of your part-timer
To make the most out of part-time help, and minimize your costs for their services, here are some tips:
- Be prepared and organized. Nothing takes more time than trying to organize everything before even being able to start working. Ensure that all your receipts and billings are well-organized so that your part-time person can get to work quickly. Ensure you have all your bank statements and any access you need to bank accounts. Your bookkeeper or accountant can help explain how best to organize your records.
- Use accounting software that is appropriate for your business and make sure your part-timer is familiar with the software that you use. Most small businesses only need a basic package such as QuickBooks when getting started.
- Categorize your revenues and expenses. You should know a little bit about your chart of accounts and pre-categorize your sales and expenses so that your part-timer doesn’t have to guess or constantly ask you. This is something you can do without needing an expert. Your accountant can help you set up a chart of accounts early on in your business.
Basically, when your time is limited with a financial professional, you should aim make the most of it. Keeping your records organized and taking the time to properly prepare for your meetings will ensure both you and your part-timer maximize the time you spend together.
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