7 Tips to Choose the Right Bookkeeping Service for Your Small Business

Accurate and timely bookkeeping is crucial for the successful operation of your business. So it is vital to choose the right bookkeeping service to support your accounting and financial needs. With more than 20 years of experience providing bookkeeping and accounting services to small businesses and startups, we recommend you consider the following areas before hiring a bookkeeping service.

What Services Does A Bookkeeper Provide?

Bookkeepers record and keep track of financial transactions. Bookkeeping is an essential function for any business, but there are a variety of bookkeeping services that an individual or company might offer. A bookkeeper may offer only very basic services, or they may be qualified to provide more complex, accounting-level work. Common services a bookkeeper may provide include:

  • Data Entry
  • Bank Reconciliation
  • Accounts Receivable (A/R)
  • Accounts Payable (A/P)
  • Payroll
  • Monthly Financial Reports

Bookkeepers may also help with tax preparation, collecting past-due accounts, and invoicing. The range of services an individual or company may provide varies widely and often depends upon factors like certification and experience.

It may seem obvious, but Tip 1 is to begin by identifying the bookkeeping services you need and then ensure that the bookkeeper or firm you’re considering is able to provide those services.

If you’re looking for an outsourced bookkeeping service, Accounting Meister can help! With over 20 years of experience providing a wide range of bookkeeping services to small businesses and startups, we continue to grow because we are committed to providing exceptional customer service and support. Schedule an initial consultation to see if we might be a good fit.

Benefits of Working With a Certified Bookkeeper

When evaluating bookkeeping services, it’s important to look at the certifications a prospective bookkeeper possesses. A certified bookkeeper has had their skills tested by an accrediting body and demonstrated that they have the skills, experience, and knowledge required to do a wide range of standard tasks.

Anyone can call themselves a bookkeeper, but someone who pursues certification can prove they know their business. The risk of a certified professional making a serious mistake is far lower than with non-certified individuals.

The most widely accepted bookkeeping certifications are CPB (certified public bookkeeper) from the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB) and CB (certified bookkeeper), issued by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB). Both certifications require successfully completing a certified bookkeeper online training program, passing a four-part test, and verification of education and experience.

Bookkeepers can also acquire certification from bookkeeping software companies like QuickBooks®, which offers ProAdvisor certification for those who attain proficiency with the software. Certification is available for QuickBooks® Online, QuickBooks® Online Advanced, QuickBooks® Desktop, QuickBooks® Desktop Enterprise, and QuickBooks® Online Payroll.

QuickBooks® is the most commonly used accounting software on the market, and working with a professional who is adept with this software ensures that you’re following best practices and that your system is set up and maintained properly. So if you use or plan to use QuickBooks® in your business, it’s best to choose a certified QuickBooks® online bookkeeper.

So Tip 2 is to choose a bookkeeping service with bookkeepers who are certified and have demonstrated knowledge of the accounting software you use.

Bookkeeper or Accountant: What’s the Difference?

It’s not uncommon for people to confuse bookkeepers and accountants. Each can attain professional certification, and each deals with a wide range of financial records, reports, and analytics. While there is quite a bit of overlap in duties and functions, there are some general differences between these financial professionals.

A bookkeeper is the day-to-day, front-line person handling data entry, paying invoices, categorizing transactions, and reconciling accounts.

An accountant generally performs more complex tasks than bookkeepers and usually has more education. Accountants prepare reports, taxes, and forecasts, and they perform financial analyses. While accountants can always perform bookkeeping tasks, only some bookkeepers are able to do accountant-level work.

You will need the assistance of a bookkeeper throughout the year but may only need to consult an accountant periodically – like when it’s time to prepare your taxes.

Tip 3:  It’s more convenient for you if you choose a firm that offers both accounting and bookkeeping services.

What to Look for in a Bookkeeping Service

Bookkeeping services can vary significantly, with some professionals providing only day-to-day record keeping while others offer in-depth analyses and forecasts. If you’re looking into hiring a bookkeeping service, the first step should be to verify that they can handle your most critical tasks, whether that’s payroll or inventory tracking.

Next, it’s a wise idea to verify that they have relevant certifications (CPB, CB, QuickBooks® ProAdvisor) and experience in your industry. A bookkeeper who’s always worked with retail stores, for example, may not have sufficient industry-specific knowledge to work with a construction company.

Choosing a service that can handle both your bookkeeping and accounting needs will make it more convenient for you.

After this cursory screening, you’ll want to interview a prospective service to ask more detailed questions to get a feel for whether or not they will be a good fit for your business, such as:

  • What software and technology do they use?
    You want to ensure that their technology and software are at least as advanced as what you use and that the software will meet your business needs.

  • What security measures do they have in place to protect your information?
    Find out how you will access and transmit information and what they do in the event of a security breach.

  • Who will have access to your information and be working on your books?
    Continuity, accuracy, and efficiency are improved when fewer people work on your books.

  • How often will you meet to review your books and get your questions answered?
    It’s best to meet once a month to review your books and get questions answered in a timely manner, so issues don’t compound.

  • What services are included in their packages, and what’s the price?
    Because service packages can vary widely from one provider to the next, it’s important to know what services will be included at each price point so you can make an accurate comparison of the different bookkeeping service providers.

So Tip 4 is to meet with the bookkeeping services you’re considering and ask detailed questions to determine if they’re a good fit for you and your business.

At Accounting Meister, we offer full-service accounting and bookkeeping assistance. We can manage your books, or we can provide training, tutoring, and consulting to help you with your bookkeeping needs. Contact us to learn more.

Can QuickBooks® Take the Place of a Bookkeeping Service?

QuickBooks® is the most commonly used bookkeeping and accounting software. Its user-friendly design makes it easy to use even if you don’t have a bookkeeping background, but it’s not a substitute for a professional. In fact, to get the most out of QuickBooks®, it’s highly advisable to work with a qualified bookkeeping service.

The powerful software is available in desktop or online versions, and a selection of plans are offered within each version. Experienced bookkeepers are familiar with QuickBooks® and know how to select the best version for your business and can set it up for you. They can also utilize all of the software’s tools and get far more from the system than a layperson.

Tip 5: Leverage the services of a professional bookkeeping service that is experienced with the accounting software you use to get maximum benefits from the financial insights the software can provide.

Advantages of Working With a Bookkeeping Service

Bookkeeping is one of the most basic tasks in a business, and accurate financial records are essential for understanding the full picture of a company’s successes and challenges. Good bookkeeping is an extremely detailed process that requires a specific skill set and education. A high-quality bookkeeping service has staff who are familiar with all the fundamentals, like double-entry accounting, running financial reports, processing payroll, and paying payroll and quarterly taxes.

Tip 6: Because of the wide variety of bookkeeping services that a company may offer, it’s critical to verify what services they can provide before contracting with them.

The Importance of Online Bookkeeping

As the Internet has grown, online bookkeeping has become more commonplace. The ability to access vital data quickly, including from a mobile device, has been a game-changer for businesses. The prevalence of the Internet also means people expect that professionals are able to navigate the online world capably.

For online bookkeeping, QuickBooks® Online is the most recognized software. It not only allows access to your data from any connected device, but it also makes it easy to share and collaborate with other financial professionals, regardless of their location. Having a bookkeeping service that knows how to operate online and work with commonly used apps is highly desirable in today’s business environment.

So Tip 7 is to choose a bookkeeping service with online bookkeeping experience and the proper security measures in place to protect your information.

Recap: 7 Tips to Choose The Right Bookkeeping Service For Your Business

  1. Identify the bookkeeping tasks you need to be performed and ensure the bookkeeping service can fulfill them.
  2. Choose certified bookkeepers who are proficient with the accounting software you use.
  3. Select a firm that provides both bookkeeping and accounting services if convenience is important to you.
  4. Interview each bookkeeping service you’re considering and ask questions to determine if they’re a good fit for you and your business.
  5. Make sure the bookkeeping service knows how to help you get maximum benefits from the financial insights your accounting software can provide.
  6. Verify the exact services the bookkeeping firm will provide before contracting with them.
  7. Ensure they have experience with online bookkeeping and the proper security measures in place to protect your information.

Accounting Meister has been working online with customers for years, and we’re highly proficient with QuickBooks® Online as well as other common bookkeeping and accounting software. We are dedicated to providing customers with the bookkeeping expertise they need, and we take great pride in providing exceptional customer service and support. Contact us to learn more.

Avatar for Scott Meister, CPA

Scott Meister, CPA

I help small businesses, accountants, bookkeepers, office managers, and business owners with their accounting needs. I’ve used QuickBooks since 2002 and train folks on how to use it efficiently. I create high-quality video training tutorials for QuickBooks and post them on scottmeister.teachable.com. Certifications include: Certified Public Accountant (CPA) | Certified Bookkeeper (CB) | Advanced Certified ProAdvisor for QuickBooks Desktop | Advanced Certified ProAdvisor for QuickBooks Online | Certified ProAdvisor for QuickBooks Enterprise | Certified ProAdvisor for QuickBooks Point Of Sale