"I'll just hire a bookkeeper and then I won't have to think about it anymore"
Now, I’m not saying don’t hire a bookkeeper. In fact, I think most businesses owners should, at least at some point, hire a bookkeeper - because who likes reconciling their bank accounts? Not me, and I LOVE me some accounting, at least when it comes to my own business.
But, often, the issue they are facing isn’t one a bookkeeper can fix. I hear a lot of clients say,
“I’m just going to hire a bookkeeper and she’ll keep me out of trouble and then I don’t have to worry about my operations anymore.” Woah. Hold on there, skippy.
A bookkeeper is there to keep your books. That’s pretty much it. They’ll make sure that your bank account in your accounting system matches your bank statements and they’ll classify the transactions that come in. They might pay your bills or request payment from your clients. But that’s pretty much the limit of it, unless they’re actually doing advisory services, or providing some other service. Bookkeepers who do advisory are becoming more common, but they're still few and far between.
Bookkeepers are the keepers of the data
A bookkeeper won’t fix your business. They’ll just make sure that the data in your accounting system accurately reflects what your business is. That’s it. It’s an important piece of your business, for sure. You can’t make good decisions if you don’t have good data to base the decisions on. The bookkeeper will make sure you have good data. But it’s still up to you to make the decisions.
And a bookkeeper is only going to work on the financial aspects of your business. That’s it. They aren’t going to help you make sure your clients are happy. Or make sure that you’re sending the appropriate contracts. Or help you book and schedule your clients. Or any of the other million things you have to do every day as a business owner. They’re just going to do your books. Hence the name, bookkeeper. In order to truly fix the overwhelm, you need to fix your processes and the systems you have in place to help you run your business.
Hiring a bookkeeper might not actually give you more time
When we’re talking to prospective clients, we often hear this line:
“I’m in the process of hiring a bookkeeper. That’s going to take a lot of my plate, so I’ll have more time.”
Is it though? How much of your actual time are you really spending doing bookkeeping? If you’re like most of the entrepreneurs we work with, you THINK you’re spending a lot of time doing bookkeeping, but you normally procrastinate it until the end of the year, then try to do it all at tax time. You’re worried about it, but you’re not really spending time doing anything about it. You're just spending energy worrying about it being on your to-do list.
Should you hire a bookkeeper? Absolutely. They’ll make sure that you have real-time financial data about your business throughout the year. You’ll know exactly where you stand, so you can make data-based decisions about where to take your business. But, they might not save you as much time as you think - because you’re probably not actually doing the bookkeeping in the first place, you’re just thinking about doing the bookkeeping.
How to truly fix the overwhelm
In reality, you actually need a bookkeeper AND you need to look at your actual operations. If you don’t have time, you need to figure out what you’re actually spending your time doing and make those processes more efficient, either through automation, changing your workflows, checking out different technology, defining your process.
But just hiring a bookkeeper isn’t the answer - and it won’t fix the problem you have, being overwhelmed by your operations or your growth.