Having a good bookkeeper is essential for every small business. After all, business owners rarely go into business because they love dealing with the financial aspects and boring record-keeping duties of their business.

But advertisements for bookkeeping services are everywhere, so how do you find a person that is the right fit for your business? Because hiring the wrong person to do the job is almost as bad as asking an inexperienced friend or relative to do the work for you. In the hands of the wrong person, your books could end up a mess and mistakes could end up brushed under the rug, leaving you to handle the consequences.

In the long run, it could costs much more to clean up after a poor bookkeeper than it does to hire a properly qualified bookkeeper in the first place.

It’s important to know what questions to ask when hiring a bookkeeper. Here is our top five questions.

1) Do you have experience in our software? Unless you’re still using the shoebox and spreadsheet method of bookkeeping (in which case you REALLY need a bookkeeper), make sure that the person you hire understands the software you’re already using. He or she may recommended another software and have valid reasons for suggesting weaning you off yours, but he or she must have experience with your chosen software in order to get to work.

2) Do you have much experience in this industry? Although it’s not a must, it’s certainly helpful if your bookkeeper is familiar with your industry and can easily allocate receipts and other records correctly. While the fundamentals of bookkeeping are the same across the board, every industry has different specifics and requires different insights. 

3) What’s your availability? If your business needs someone on-demand who can input your information on a timely and consistent basis, then hire a person who can do so. There’s nothing wrong with a part-time bookkeeper that squeezes the job in amongst other responsibilities, but if that’s the person you hire, make sure it’s what your business needs to thrive.

4) Do you simply enter the data or do you analyze it as well? A bookkeeper is not an accountant, much to the surprise of many business owners. Hire a bookkeeper to enter your data and keep your records organized; if you need more than that  — an analysis of financial statements or CRA-related advice — you need to hire an accountant.

5) Finally, the most important question is the one you need to ask yourself. Do you feel comfortable and compatible with this person? The person you hire is going to be responsible for managing the day-to-day financial records of your business, if the relationship doesn’t ‘feel’ right, then it probably isn’t.

Hiring any employee or contractor is never something that should be taken lightly. When it comes to a bookkeeper, whether you hire an individual or outsource to a firm, hiring the right one is critical to your company’s success.

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