At times managing your growing business while ensuring things stay afloat can be a complicated landscape of questions. Financial guidance is vital to ensure growth in your new business. But when is your business at the point where you need a full charge bookkeeper?

Below is a quick checklist to review before you start spending what could be a couple hundred a month, to a couple thousand a year, on something you might be able to do yourself!

1. Do you understand why you need to keep track of your $$? AKA- do you even know what a bookkeeper does?

While the heart of what a bookkeeper does never changes — they organize and categorize your money so you can file taxes and know what you are making/spending — the style, skill and involvement changes immensely depending on the professional.  Some bookkeepers simply categorize your income and expenses per a standard Chart of Accounts[1] leaving you with year-end reports and not a whole lot else.

Others, the ‘good’ ones, will leave you with a sense of engagement and understanding of your financials to facilitate your growth and continued trajectory of success. These professionals not only provide you with reports, but will take time to explain them and what they mean for your business. They will also work with you to ensure your Charts of Accounts makes sense for your business needs, and isn’t just a tool for your tax preparer. They set up systems for invoicing, payroll, bill pay, etc. so that you have an easier time running your day-to-day. A good bookkeeper isn’t just phoning it in for tax season, they help you run your back end needs to insure your business thrives.

2. Do you have time to teach yourself a new ‘trick’?

Be real here, as the business owner are you objective enough to add a new, somewhat labor intensive task, to your already full docket?  Are you able to look past the stress and emotion of your individual expenses, and see them as just numbers to be evaluated to determine the overarching approach to your business management?

Don’t be afraid to say no here. Operating a small business is a lot of work. But you don’t have to do everything alone. With someone to help you can free up time to make more sales, create more product, develop future ideas, execute plans and reach your goals more quickly.

3. Can you afford it?

The age old question… is it in the budget?  A bookkeeper can cost you anywhere from a couple hundred dollars a quarter to a thousand a month depending on where you live, the skill level of your bookkeeper, and what your business needs are.

If you said no to questions 2 then it’s important for you to find room in your budget for some help. While it may feel burdensome at first, working with the right bookkeeping professional will empower you to see where the money is flowing in an out and where you need to grow or tighten the belt on your finances.

4. Will you do the homework?

Much like life, it’s not all just done for you – you have to put some sweat into it as well. Bookkeepers don’t just do it all and give you reports. Often you will receive a series of questions that need to be answered in a timely manner to ensure the accuracy of your financials.

If you ignore these or don’t make time for them, it’s on you- your numbers won’t be dialed in and you may be at risk of making unsound financial decisions… or worse… submitting inaccurate information to the IRS.

5. Do you trust other people to help you organize your finances?

This is BIG. The relationship between you and a bookkeeper can be pretty intimate. Bookkeepers are really diving in deep to your numbers and while they are emotionally disconnected to these numbers- you are not. There has to be a a solid level of trust between you and your bookkeeper so that your business will truly succeed.

[1] The chart of accounts is a listing of all accounts used in the general ledger of an organization. The chart is used by the accounting software to aggregate information into an entity’s financial statements.