My January posts have focused on bookkeeping firms: what to expect, what to look for, and why business owners need a professional bookkeeper. Last week, I wrote about two of the reasons business owners need a professional bookkeeper. What started out as a simple, one-part post turned into a nearly-1,000-word manifesto. Much like the movie franchises for Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Twilight (okay, maybe not the last one,) it only made sense to break the last post in the series into two separate posts.
Some business owners intuitively understand bookkeeping serves a greater purpose than compiling financial records in order to file a tax return. And not all business owners want to try to manage their own bookkeeping, no matter how easy the software is to use. But many business owners mistakenly think combining two vital roles in their business just makes good sense.
A professional bookkeeper is more than an office manager…
…and an office manager is more than a bookkeeper.
I will admit to being touchy about this. I started my career in bookkeeping as an office manager who also managed the company’s QuickBooks file. The bookkeeping aspect soon became my passion, but prior to launching my firm all of my “bookkeeping” jobs were a combination of office management and bookkeeping.
Very few businesses can afford the luxury of both a full-time office manager and a full-time bookkeeper. I will go so far as to say most small businesses don’t actually need an on-staff bookkeeper, but many do need an office manager. It makes sense to combine the two roles.
Except, it really doesn’t.
While an office manager can perform many bookkeeping tasks well – billing, recording customer payments, cutting checks for vendor payments, etc. – in my experience whenever the roles of office manager and bookkeeper are combined the bookkeeping takes a backseat to the office management. And, while an office manager may have an understanding of accounting concepts, this is pretty rare. I followed some office managers who were superwomen when it came to managing the office. They did the best they could with the bookkeeping, but it was obvious they didn’t understand accounting concepts. While not devastating to the businesses, the costs of not having a professional bookkeeper managing the books were significant.
It may appear you would save money by having your office manager handle the bookkeeping. However, you will see the greatest return on your investment in your office manager if you invest in a separate professional bookkeeper.
Still wondering if you need a professional bookkeeper?
Hopefully not. It took me six months to muster the courage to write about this, because let’s face it, a professional bookkeeper writing a post about why you need a professional bookkeeper immediately comes across as self-serving. But here’s a bonus, fourth reason why you need a professional bookkeeper:
Professional bookkeepers are passionate about our clients and their businesses. We want you to succeed. We love running a side-by-side P&L and seeing your profits are up 30% over last year. And we love what we do, even though we understand you don’t.