When you run a business, you will eventually need to hire a bookkeeper. If you’re not a bookkeeper yourself, you’ll want an expert to keep track of your cash flow, manage payments to contractors and employees, and make sure the tax man is paid accurately and on time. But, if you’re not a bookkeeper, how do you know what to look for?
The American Institute of Public Bookkeepers offers a hiring test that you can use to ensure that your new bookkeeper knows what they need to know to do the job right. The test has ten questions that cover the gambit of needed skills.
Link to test - http://www.aipb.org/testrequest.php
Outside of that, you want to ensure that your new bookkeeper meets other minimum qualifications for the position.
1. Certification – It doesn’t take much to get a bookkeeping certification and shows that the bookkeeper is serious. In fact, if they have the certification you can likely skip over the test mentioned above.
2. Experience – Make sure that your new bookkeeper has more experience than you. Even a new bookkeeper who hasn’t gone through an entire yearly cycle with a client will be confused and may make mistakes that experience will prevent.
3. Good Communicator – A person can have all the skills in the world, but if they’re not good at communicating with you then they will not be effective. Make sure that your new bookkeeper knows that you want them to take charge and tell you the rules and regulations regarding your accounts, not the other way around.
4. Good Problem Solver – They need to be good at figuring out problems that may come up in the course of each year. For example, if you work in the cloud, how good are they at figuring out the technology involved?
5. Understand Your Niche – Bookkeepers usually work in a particular niche, the reason being that there is so much to know that one bookkeeper can’t know everything. So, concentrating on a niche will help them know more about the ins and outs of how to keep your books in the most up-to-date manner.
6. They Take CE Courses – Bookkeepers that are certified are required by the certification entity to get a certain amount of continuing education credits each year. Even if you choose someone who knows what they’re doing but isn’t certified, the fact that they continue their education should mean something.
7. Meet Deadlines – A bookkeeper should know the importance of meeting deadlines, especially those set by the IRS and local taxing authority. Ask them if they’ve ever missed a deadline and if so why, and what did they do about it.
8. Entrepreneurial Mindset – Most business owners don’t need a full-time bookkeeper. If you hire a contractor who works for several other businesses, they need to have a mindset that makes them a fellow business owner, not an employee who is following orders.
These critical things to look for when hiring a bookkeeper will help you avoid a problem with the bookkeeper later. Having a bookkeeper is a life saver, but the wrong one can kill your business.
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