5 Things You Need to Know Before Hiring a Virtual Bookkeeper
Thinking of finally hiring a bookkeeper for your business? 🙌
When you have a growing brand, you’ve probably noticed that there’s just so much you can do on your own. As your business scales, the need for help and delegation becomes apparent as well, especially when it comes to your regular financial tasks like processing payments, managing payroll, and running financial reports, among others. When you’re at this point, there’s no denying that you need a professional to do your books and keep track of all your financial records.
But how do you begin the search?
To help you get ready to hire your very own bookkeeper, we’ve listed down the first 5 things you should know before you start looking for one:
Determine the scope of work.
Set expectations for yourself and your future hire.
When you’re looking for a bookkeeper, one of the first things you need to establish is what you want your bookkeeper to work on in particular.
Ask yourself the question: What exactly do you intend to accomplish by hiring a finance expert?
There are many reasons why a business owner hires a finance expert such as a bookkeeper. In most cases, if not all, a business owner looks for a bookkeeper because they want their financial transactions up-to-date. A bookkeeper’s responsibilities may also vary depending on the nature and size of the business.
If your business is just starting out and does not require long hours of work, you might want to consider hiring a part-time or freelance bookkeeper instead of a full-time bookkeeper. This gets the job done without breaking the bank. However, if your business is steadily growing in size (with at least 30 to 50 employees), and your part-time bookkeeper is starting to work longer hours, it’s time to consider bringing in someone full-time.
Evaluate the bookkeeper’s qualifications
Before coming up with a shortlist of candidates, know what the qualifications are by identifying the role’s responsibilities. Understanding the responsibilities of your bookkeeper is essential because it helps you filter your candidates. By listing down what the role requires, you narrow the search and improve the chances of finding your best match.
To do this, start writing down a complete job description, including what the role requires and what relevant skills you're looking for.
Education or certifications
A common question for business owners hiring a finance expert for the first time is: Does your bookkeeper need to have an impressive educational background?
Not always. It depends on your preference and how complex you expect your bookkeeper’s tasks are going to be.
Most employers would prefer a bookkeeper with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, business management, or anything related. However, entry-level bookkeeping positions where tasks only include basic math and basic knowledge in bookkeeping programs only require a high school diploma.
If you wish to hire someone with more training, you can opt to hire someone with bookkeeping certification. These certificate programs often teach skills such as computerized (or digital) bookkeeping, fundamentals of accounting, business math, and even calculator techniques.
Skills and Experience
When you’re looking to hire a bookkeeper, it’s also best to pick out candidates who have a decent experience with bookkeeping or accounting software.
Assess their familiarity with your industry.
This seems like a no-brainer, but working with a bookkeeper who is used to the fitness industry, for example, would be very different compared to when you’re working with a bookkeeper used to the e-commerce industry. The systems and skills they carry over to their next role would not be the same. This is the reason why it is vital to choose a bookkeeper that is familiar with your business or your industry. You want someone who is efficient and easy to work with — someone who can easily adapt to the workplace.
Of course any bookkeeper could still learn the ropes of your business no matter how different it is from their previous industry. However, if you wish to save time, effort, and resources, a bookkeeper from the same industry as yours would make operations a lot smoother.
Determine how much you should pay your bookkeeper.
Bookkeeping rates may vary depending on their training, location, and background.
Typically, a bookkeeper in the United Kingdom charges between £11 and £30 per hour. Rates may even go higher if they’re bookkeeping for a larger business. Meanwhile, in the United States, a bookkeeper could charge between $18 and $31 per hour.
For business owners who are just starting out and prefer to hire someone who can do their books part-time (weekly, monthly, or quarterly) to save on costs, having a fixed rate is also a great option. Unlike paying by the hour, agreeing on a fixed rate lets you know upfront how much it’s going to cost, saving you from surprises. Like with the hourly rates, flat rates also vary depending on the bookkeeper’s experience and expected workload.
Create a proper onboarding process for your newly-hired bookkeeper.
Finally, before hiring a bookkeeper for your business, prepare a proper onboarding process. Not only does this help your new bookkeeper acclimate to the business and their role, it also establishes what results you should expect from the job while building a healthy employer-employee relationship.
Here’s a sample onboarding process we recommend:
Welcome bookkeeper and sign contract
Make proper introductions and clarify everyone’s roles. Make your new bookkeeper feel welcome and don’t forget to prepare a contract! Whether it’s for a freelance, part-time, or full-time role, a contract protects both sides and defines rights, obligations, and even salary expectations.
Share important business information
Provide your bookkeeper access to important files and information about your business. This may include the company’s vision or login details to your official software programs and/or company email.
Set up proper communication channels
Decide on your preferred method of communication. Whether it’s through email, Slack, or Zoom, having an official communication channel creates a fast and safe space for information sharing.
Set expectations and answer all questions related to the business and the role
Take this chance to orient your new bookkeeper about the business and the role. If there are any questions, answer as best as you can to avoid doubts and information gaps.
Don’t forget to be ready to answer more questions along the way or give support to your bookkeeper when needed! The onboarding process can take weeks or even months, but you’ll notice the change of pacing and efficiency once you and your bookkeeper become more familiar and comfortable with the workflow.
Hiring a bookkeeper online can be challenging. Fortunately, there are great ways to simplify the search and hiring experience. Selecting candidates through agencies or expert marketplaces, for example, is a smart way to speed up the process without sacrificing output or work quality.