12 Jan What Your Bookkeeper Wants To Know About You
I firmly believe that our small business financials tell the story of our lives. Not only do the books reveal the trials and tribulations of the business, but also the personalities of the business owners. There are hints about what we find valuable in how we name our products and our packaged services.
What your financials say about you
The information found in QuickBooks about how we spend is powerful. It shows things such as where you like to eat, but it’s also a peek into your values system. It shows educational and professional development expenses and where you choose to advertise and spend your marketing dollars. It tells us how you pay your team and what job titles you give to your team members. It shows where and how you save your money.
Not everyone has experience in working with a bookkeeper. It’s certainly not something taught in a classroom. Something occurred to me as I was talking to a client who was switching to a new bookkeeping team member at Reconciled Solutions. She had no knowledge of what information is useful to share with the bookkeeper and what is not pertinent.
Why your bookkeeper wants to know you better
Our bookkeeping team certainly does want to get to know you! We can only pick up so much about who you are from the story the financials tell. We need to know you to recognize those tidbits that lead to personality traits. If we know these important pieces of info, then we can be much more effective.
What to communicate with your bookkeeper
Here are some great things to communicate with your Reconciled Solutions bookkeeper specifically, which will help our bookkeeper communicate most efficiently and effectively with you:
- What is your preferred method of communication? What are the best times to reach you? Do you have a certain day of the week or time of the day reserved for office and administrative tasks?
- Are there any times that are sacred and you MUST be focused on other tasks so that you are not interrupted? I prefer not to be interrupted between 4 PM and 8 PM myself. This is my sacred family time, where my primary job is trying to raise 3 healthy and kind kids.
- Some of our bookkeeping team is offshore and much of their workday typically occurs while we are asleep. Do you want them to schedule their emails so that they are delivered during business hours? Or is it OK to send an email that you would receive in the middle of the night?
- Do you prefer if we bundle our questions into 1 big email or is it better to send questions ad hoc, as they arise?
What your bookkeeper needs to know about the general “big picture” of your business
These will help our bookkeeper get to know you and help you get the most out of your bookkeeping service:
- How actively are you working in the business? Are you an 80-hours-per-week person or a 10-hours-per week kind of worker?
- What is your 1-year goal for the business? 3 years? 10 years?
- What are your primary personal goals as it relates to financial sustainability, profitability, debt and liability buydowns, emergency fund accumulation, personal lifestyle congruence, retirement fund savings, and the potential of selling the business? We want to know the top priority/priorities for you with this in mind – not only for this calendar year, but also for 3 years from now and 10 years from now.
What your bookkeeper needs to know about your business
There are also a lot of things your bookkeeper needs to know about your business. Here is a list of business activities that you should keep the bookkeeper informed about:
- If you are in dispute over an amount owed to you from a customer
- If you are in dispute over an amount charged to you from a vendor
- If your vendor or customer is merging/being bought out by another company/changing names and EIN numbers and addresses and contact people
- If you are changing vendors on a major expense
- If you are considering opening/closing a location or branch of your business
- If you have completed or plan on completing a physical inventory count
- If you made a purchase with the wrong account; for example, if you used a personal account for a business purchase or vice versa
- If you are hiring/firing an employee
- If you are hiring/firing 1099 contracted workers
- If an employee is changing their benefits package with regards to employee benefits offered to employees
- If you have made a large donation or an in-kind donation of materials or services on behalf of the business
- If an employee has borrowed money from the company or if the employee is required to have garnishments held from their paycheck
- If you need to pay an employee overtime, bonus, commission, holiday pay, or other additional compensation
- If you are considering changing a software package that is critical to the daily operations of the business
- If you are paying off a loan or making a big asset purchase; for example, the purchase/sale of an auto
- If you have borrowed money or if you are trying to borrow money and need to communicate with the lender on financials
- If you have closed a bank or credit card account or opened a new bank or credit card account
- If you have received any grants
- If you have received a notice from a taxing agency with out-of-norm information
- When your tax return is filed, always provide it to your bookkeeper so we can close out the year and make adjusting entries
What your bookkeeper needs to know about communication
The third and final area that we need to know about you and your business is communication. Knowledge is power, and an open line of communication between business owner and bookkeeper will allow for a steady and strong flow of information. This level of communication and understanding can be powerful in making business decisions for you. Clean, accurate, and timely financials allow us to provide you with powerful intelligence to aid you in decision-making.
- Have you gotten back to your bookkeeper on uncategorized transactions and given direction on how to categorize them?
- Do the numbers flow together and “make sense” according to what you are seeing in your bank accounts and feeling in the ebbs and flows of doing business?
- Do you feel that the categorization of income and expenses is correct and accurate?
- Is there a number or category whose amount seems too high or too low and does not sit well with you? Did you ask your bookkeeper to explain it?
- Does your job costing make sense to you?
- Do you have location or class tracking and is this making sense to you?
- Do you understand everything on your balance sheet?
- Do you see any negative numbers on your balance sheet, outside of accumulated depreciation?
- Do you understand your equity account balances and basis?
- Are we tracking key performance objectives? Can we customize financials to ensure that the correct tracking and dashboards have been developed so you can get reporting on key performance objectives?
- Do you need a referral for a lawyer, tax preparer, consultant, coach, financial planner, etc.?
- When you want to do a little forecasting and planning for the coming year
What a bookkeeper can do with the right information
With proper planning and communication, the relationship between you and your bookkeeper will provide fruitful and timely information. It is much harder for a bookkeeper to piece together events that happened a year or more in the past. But ongoing and frequent communication with your bookkeeper will yield positive results and be well worth the time investment. This type of relationship will yield better results, the numbers and data from which you can use to make timely and powerful business decisions.
A good relationship with your bookkeeper is powerful
We often hear bookkeepers described as historians, merely tracking what has happened in the past. However, I personally believe that your bookkeeper has the ability to be not only a powerful advocate for your business, but also to aid you in being the best version of business owner possible for yourself.