A bookkeeper is working at his desk and computer.

How to hire a bookkeeper for your small business

Why should I hire a bookkeeper?

A bookkeeper provides critical services to keep your business finances in order. Small business owners and solo entrepreneurs may take on bookkeeping tasks themselves, but it can cost a lot in effort and time away from the heart of their business.

Bookkeeping is one of the many specialized tasks that business owners take on while they start and grow their businesses. 

Although it might save money to do your business’ books yourself, you might have run into some of the downsides. It's common to make mistakes, get behind on your books, or realize that you've been doing something incorrectly. Hiring a bookkeeper comes with an upfront cost, but it can save you a lot of time, energy, and effort when it comes to keeping your finances in good shape. That's especially important if you have employees, lenders, or investors.

Bookkeepers help solo entrepreneurs and small business owners take care of recurring financial tasks. This allows owners to spend more time doing the things they love and get paid for. Smaller or less complex businesses might only need a few hours of bookkeeping services per month, so you aren't onboarding a full-time employee. 

Hiring a small business bookkeeper involves a few steps to find someone you trust for the role.

How to hire a bookkeeper

1. Find experts who use reputable financial software

Small business bookkeeping starts with the business, financial, or accounting software you use. If you haven't yet selected accounting software, consider your budget, the program's user experience, its features and reporting capabilities, and its scalability as your business grows. Start with a reputable program that you feel confident in.

To hire a bookkeeper for your small business, narrow the pool of options to those who use reputable accounting software. Bookkeepers often specialize or are certified in using specific software programs. Search for local or virtual bookkeepers who know how to navigate trusted technology. If you use QuickBooks Online, you can get easy access to QuickBooks-certified experts to help with your books.

A graphic showing Accounting equation definition

2. Check the bookkeeper's credentials

Unlike accountants, small business bookkeepers don't need higher education or graduate degrees to do their jobs. But there are certifications and online bookkeeping courses that a bookkeeper can complete to show their understanding of bookkeeping, basic accounting principles, industry knowledge, and financial software. These credentials aren't required, but knowing a third party has given their stamp of approval can help you feel more confident when hiring a bookkeeper.

Not all credentials are tangible. There are crucial skills a bookkeeper should have that aren't backed by a certification. When you trust someone to reconcile credits and debits or categorize transactions, you want them to be detail-oriented, organized, and communicative. Look for signs of these traits, like a clean website or an efficient email response.

And nothing replaces experience. Search out bookkeepers with several years in the field and positive reviews from clients and accountants, who look over bookkeepers' work. These can be good signs that your bookkeeper knows what they're doing.

3. Meet to see if they're a good fit for you

You might be down to a few top candidates by this step in the hiring process. Once your list is narrowed down to qualified bookkeepers who work with your business software, it's time to meet. Whether it happens online or in person, meeting your final contenders gives you an opportunity to envision yourself working with each person. 

Consider whether each professional feels like a fit. Personal preference plays a role here — while one entrepreneur might love a bookkeeper's enthusiastic email communication, another might prefer brief, direct notes. What makes you feel comfortable and trusting is unique to you.

This is also a great time to explain your specific business and needs. You can also lay out your preferences for working together, including communication, availability, and invoicing.

4. Determine how much help you need

What a bookkeeper can help your small business do

You're likely going into the bookkeeper hiring process with a rough idea of what you need a bookkeeper to do. Common bookkeeping services include:

  • Bringing your books up to date. 
  • Setting up your accounting software. 
  • Categorizing transactions. 
  • Reconciling accounts. 
  • Closing the books. 
  • Running detailed reports.

Before you select a bookkeeper, work with them to determine how much help you need. The bookkeeper might want to take a look at your books to assess how much work it will take to clean up your books and maintain them on a regular basis. Some bookkeepers do it all for you, and others can support you or be available to answer questions. Depending on what you're willing to do yourself and how much you're willing to pay, the services available to you might differ.

5. Contract their services

After you've pared down the options to find a qualified, trustworthy bookkeeper who's a good fit for your business, it's time to sign the deal. The bookkeeper should have an agreement that clarifies exactly what services they're providing, what you're responsible for, and the terms of the relationship. Be sure to note what information you need to provide the bookkeeper and by when, as well as how you can terminate the agreement if needed.

Then get ready to hand over your books! Outsourcing work to a contractor or business can feel nerve-wracking, but it's a big occasion on the road to business growth. 

See how this flower farm slash florist uses QuickBooks Live Assisted Bookkeeping.

Get help from QuickBooks experts today

Hiring a small business bookkeeper can, itself, be a time-consuming process. After all, you (does want to find a qualified bookkeeper who's an expert in your software and industry. For solopreneurs and small business owners using QuickBooks Online, the hiring process is even easier.

QuickBooks Online users can access two easy ways to get help doing their books: 1) Assisted Bookkeeping and 2) Full-Service Bookkeeping

Assisted Bookkeeping offers affordable help from bookkeepers when you need it, with experts only a call away. It's great for new customers, smaller businesses, or those who want to continue managing their books. 

Full-Service Bookkeeping offers dedicated bookkeeping support including cleanup of your past books and ongoing bookkeeping, all done for you.

Run your business with confidence

Get help and guidance when you need it from real QuickBooks experts.*

* Terms and fees apply

Terms and fees apply. Level of bookkeeping help dependent on offering. See website for more details.
[1] QuickBooks Live Assisted Bookkeeping
[2] QuickBooks Live Full Service Bookkeeping
[3] QuickBooks Live Assisted Bookkeeping requires QuickBooks Online subscription. Additional terms, conditions and fees apply. See information and exclusions in the QuickBooks Online terms.

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