When you’re first starting out, making sure all your record-keeping is in order can seem like a tall task. Invoices, expenses, inventory, employee payments… it can be daunting. But, knowing where your business stands is essential to the health and wellness of your company. So, let’s break down bookkeeping once and for all.
What is the difference between an accountant and a bookkeeper?
A bookkeeper is someone who maintains your finance records on an ongoing basis. They will create invoices, enter bills, ensure income is collected and expenses are paid - in general, their goal is to correctly and thoroughly reflect the company’s operations in its financial records.
An accountant works in conjunction with your bookkeeper to ensure that financial records are in line with regulations and that all taxes have been filed correctly. A bookkeeper will likely work with you at at regular frequency (daily/weekly/monthly depending on business volume) while an accountant check-in generally occurs each quarter and annually.
In either case, it is important to check that your accountant and bookkeeper have prior experience with operations relevant to your business (such as inventory management, recording POS system sales, filing monthly/quarterly returns) and strong references from prior or other current clients.
If I want to be my own bookkeeper, do I need special software?
Thanks to the proliferation of apps and online platforms, there are more options out there for being your own bookkeeper than ever. Whatever program you choose, we recommend reaching out to a qualified accountant or bookkeeper to help you get set up with the software.
Two options that meet the bookkeeping needs of most small and mid-sized businesses are QuickBooks Online and Xero. QuickBooks Online is accessible anywhere, offers cloud-supported back-ups and plug-ins for loads a multitude of external apps and systems that can boost your bookkeeping power.
Xero is newer on the scene, but gaining in popularity. It offers very similar benefits to QuickBooks Online with an arguably more intuitive interface for non-accountants, and also has an easy to use app. However, because it is a newer offering, it may be more challenging to find a coach or bookkeeper who can help you take the first steps.