Hiring a freelance bookkeeper may seem like quite a big step if you’ve always handled this type of work yourself, but it’s often one of the first signs of a company on the path to success. That’s because a bookkeeper can quickly step in and handle many of the organizational aspects of the business such as generating financial reports, handling payroll, and dealing with accounts payable/receivable. This frees you up to focus on the daily operation of your business and continuing to grow it.
HOW BOOKKEEPERS WORK
Most bookkeepers use accounting and bookkeeping software to perform various checks and balances for their clients. Clients often scan documents like receipts and tax forms with a smartphone or scanner, and that information is then categorized in a central database for reporting purposes. Services are usually billed by the hour or at a fixed price and bookkeepers often work for several clients at any given time.
Additionally, some bookkeepers may have advanced training or a degree in a field such as accounting, finance, or business administration. Others may specialize in certain job sectors such as law, health care, or automotive, which would give them certain insights that could make them a great fit for your project.
WHAT THEY DO
Besides keeping business documents organized and generating reports, bookkeepers can handle a number of everyday clerical and accounting tasks. Here are just a few of their daily activities:
- Paying for everyday expenditures
- Recording forms of income
- Verifying deposits and other transactions
- Balancing bank accounts
- Billing clients directly
- Managing past-due accounts
- Preparing monthly financial statements
- Handling payroll and withholding taxes
- Generating business reports
What to Look For
Since bookkeepers can have a wide variety of skills and specializations, it’s important to know the types of experience your ideal professional should have. For example, a bookkeeper who worked with a large manufacturer may have ample experience tracking accounts receivable and purchase orders, but not much exposure to payroll or generating financial reports. Others might have extensive experience in areas like inventory audits, bank reconciliation, or accounting.
Here are a few more things to consider when selecting a bookkeeper:
- Do they have experience working within your industry? If so, this tells you that they’re more likely to understand how your business operates and what your expectations will be.
- Do they have formal training in finance? Those with degrees within the field may have a better overall knowledge of advanced tasks like loan packaging or preparing business plans.
- Have they obtained any professional certifications? While this isn’t necessary, belonging to an organization like the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers shows a deeper commitment to the field.
- How long have they been working in a freelance capacity? Those with established businesses in bookkeeping with many clients are often more professional and well-rounded with their skills. While their hourly rates may be higher, they should also be more proficient.
- Are they proficient in the bookkeeping software that you currently use? Since there are many different types of accounting and bookkeeping software on the market (QuickBooks and Xero are two popular options), it may make sense to include this as a requirement in your posting.
- How proficient are they with current technology? A good bookkeeper will be comfortable using the internet, file sharing programs, and any other necessary tools.
Sample Project Description
In order to locate the best possible bookkeeping professional for your needs, it’s important to share as much up-front information about the project as possible. This allows professionals to better understand your needs and determine whether or not they’d be the right fit for your project.
Below is a sample of how a project description may look. Keep in mind that many people use the term “job description,” but a full job description is only needed for employees. When engaging a freelancer as an independent contractor, you typically just need a statement of work, job post, or any other document that describes the work to be done.
Title: Seeking Bookkeeping for Textile Manufacturer
We are currently seeking a freelance bookkeeper with expertise in payroll, accounts receivable, and filing monthly taxes. The ideal professional will be very well organized, plus have availability up to 25 hours per month. We would prefer prior manufacturing experience as well.
Services and Deliverables:
Send invoices and keep track of monthly accounts receivable
Write checks to vendors and other accounts payable
Handle bimonthly payroll obligations
Complete monthly state and federal tax forms
- Expertise in payroll and accounts receivable
- Knowledge of federal and state tax code for withholding, sales tax, etc.
- Good with QuickBooks and bookkeeping software
- Certification from a major bookkeeping association
- Experience with manufacturing a major plus
To submit a proposal, please provide a short description of your experience as a bookkeeper and why we should consider you. Also, tell us about a previous project and how your skills made an impact on that business.
Read this article for more tips on how to write a great project description.
Selecting the Best Professional
As with all professions, there are definitely some standout bookkeepers that will go above and beyond to ensure your satisfaction. In order to find these types of professionals, a thorough interview process is absolutely essential. Consider asking each bookkeeper about their prior experiences, what aspects of bookkeeping they find the most enjoyable, and what they’re looking for in a client. These types of questions will allow you to get a feel for each professional’s expertise and fit for your project.
Additionally, since many aspects of a bookkeeper’s profession revolve around time-sensitive material like payroll, tax forms, and monthly statements, it’s very important to ask how they plan to meet these needs and deadlines. Most experienced bookkeepers have a process that they work through with each client, so be sure to ask for specific details. This will ensure that key information is available when you need it.