As a small business owner, it can be overwhelming handling all the day to day business tasks on your own. Hiring a qualified bookkeeper to maintain your daily records, process payroll and sales tax is essential. There are several different levels of bookkeepers, which one is right for your business? The responsibilities, skills and knowledge differ greatly.
1. General or Basic Bookkeeper
This person deals with financial transactions and postings. This may include easy single-entry bookkeeping or more detailed double-entry bookkeeping. A general or basic bookkeeper is responsible for recording all transactions into the general ledger, posting invoices and payments, posting vendor bills and bill payments.
2. Full Charge Bookkeeper
This person has some of the same responsibilities as a regular bookkeeper, with a few key differences. They also prepare financial statements, and in most cases handle payroll and sales tax if applicable. They handle the financial transactions for small to medium sized companies.
3. Certified Bookkeeper
A Certified Bookkeeper (CB) is much more knowledgeable. They handle everything that general and full charge bookkeepers do on a daily basis, and more. To qualify as a test applicant for the CB you must have at least 2 years (proven) experience working in the accounting field, pass a four part national exam and adhere to a code of ethics from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB.org). They are expected to prepare financial statements, keep up with daily transactions, accounts receivable and payable, general ledger and any other accounting needs. They are responsible for payroll and reporting to the state, along with preparing all the year-end tax documents for the accountant. To maintain the CB title, you have to stay current on continuing education and changing tax laws.
If you're in a one person accounting department, I am a firm believer in having your outside accountant reconcile your bank and credit card accounts or at the very least have them review the reconciliations. The individual writing the checks, making bank deposits and processing payroll should not also be doing the reconciliations. Checks and balances are so important in maintaining the integrity of your books.
Bookkeepers are a vital part of keeping a business running smoothly. Whether you're just starting out, looking for change or expanding your accounting department it's extremely important to find a bookkeeper you can trust, who knows what they're doing and knows the accounting software you use for your company. Give your potential new hire a test on both their bookkeeping and QuickBooks skills, this extra step in the long run will save you time and money.
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