Updated: Jul 13, 2018
People often tell me they're not sure whether they need a bookkeeper and I think it's because many people don't really know what a bookkeeper does. They know that their accountant's there to help them out with their year end, but what does a bookkeeper do?
Different bookkeepers offer different services and you should check their qualifications and references, but these are the top 10 things a good bookkeeper can do for you.
1. Bookkeepers send invoices and chase customers for you
Bookkeepers can send invoices to your customers and tell you which customers haven't paid. They can chase outstanding invoices and tell you whether they're having trouble getting specific customers to pay so you can decide whether to sell to these customers in future or to change your payment terms to them.
2. Bookkeepers record supplier invoices and make sure you pay them on time
When you receive invoices from your suppliers, your bookkeeper will record these into your financial system making a record of the date the invoice is due for payment. They'll make sure you're aware of which invoices need paying by which date, and depending on the services you've agreed with your bookkeeper they might pay these on your behalf from your bank account.
3. Bookkeepers keep your financial records up to date
Your bookkeeper will review your bank transactions and make sure that other expenses are recorded correctly in your financial system and backed up with a receipt or other documentation that you provide.
4. Bookkeepers can organise payroll for you
If you have employees, your bookkeeper can arrange payroll, prepare payslips, arrange salary payments, and prepare the correct returns for HMRC.
5. Bookkeepers help you understand your business finances
If you need to know how much you've paid a particular supplier this year, how much you're spending each month on train tickets or who's been your best customer, your bookkeeper can help you by preparing a report from your financial system.
6. Bookkeepers can prepare your VAT return
If you're VAT registered, your bookkeeper can make sure you're keeping the right information about VAT paid and received, and complete your VAT returns for you.
7. Bookkeepers can do your self assessment return
If you need to prepare a tax return because you're a sole trader or in a partnership, a bookkeeper can help you.
8. Bookkeepers are good teachers
Bookkeepers want you to be able to understand your numbers, and a good bookkeeper will help you understand how to use your accounting system if you want to.
9. Bookkeepers offer day to day friendly finance support
If you employ a bookkeeper, you know you have an expert on hand to help you with finance queries no matter how silly those questions seem.
10. Bookkeepers allow you to do what you love... and love what you do
You didn't start your business so you could do bookkeeping, and I think this is the most important point of all. Employing a bookkeeper, even if it's just for a couple of hours a week, frees up time for you to work on your business rather than worrying about paperwork.. whilst knowing it's being done by somebody who knows what they're doing, inside out.