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How to find a good bookkeeper

DIY bookkeeping, hiring a bookkeeper

How To Find a Good Bookkeeper

Business owners (or their long-suffering partners) can take a long time to decide to engage a bookkeeper and that can be for any number of reasons. But ultimately, no individual has the capacity to do everything. There’s a time to do it all yourself and there’s a time to let go enough to give yourself some relief, time, and headspace to bring you back to a pinpoint focus on your business.


Where Do I Start?

Being in business for yourself usually means you know other people in business, so why not start by talking about what you are looking for? Word of mouth is a great way to find the best fit for you and good bookkeepers will be talked about far and wide. Most of my clients come from word of mouth and the geographical spread spans over a thousand kilometres. One of my clients said her accountant told her not to bother with bookkeepers because they’re no good.

Firstly…ouch! Secondly, that is a really unfortunate experience to have had, but they are incorrect.

  • Social media is a powerful resource. Resist the clickbait and temptation to scroll through endless reels and jump online and ask for recommendations. You will be amazed at what your online friends have to offer. If your own contacts aren’t able to help, try the local community page.
  • Google it! Oh, how I love Google. Coming from an age where none of this stuff existed and my first clients were sourced via a homemade, trifold leaflet, the Yellow Pages, and slow mail, I absolutely revel in the power of knowledge offered by online platforms. I recently asked a new client how she found me and she had simply Googled ‘best bookkeeper in Canberra’. I love that!
  • You could also ask your accountant for recommendations or look up ‘registered BAS agents’ online via the Tax Practitioners Board, ( Your accountant should be able to help you with a bookkeeper who is closely aligned with your needs and experienced in your industry. Sifting through a list is perhaps a little more clinical, but it is a good way to check the registration status of bookkeepers, too. Many accountants offer bookkeeping services, but in my experience, their services can cost three or four times more than the same services offered by a registered BAS agent. (Note that only a registered BAS agent can complete compliance tasks for you.)


What Will It Cost Me?

The cost of bookkeeping services is widely variable and depends on many factors, including experience, service range, the structure of the bookkeeping business and so on. Perhaps think instead of affordability rather than cost. Affordability is not just a dollar figure that falls within your budget but is also time and resource-based. What does it mean to you to have a bookkeeper? If you don’t already have one, how does it feel when you imagine having a bookkeeper? Is there stress relief? Time relief? Mental anguish relief? Are these things you can afford to hang onto?

Keep in mind that a bookkeeper can also process your books much faster than a non-bookkeeper. So, if you are looking at an hourly rate, for example, it’s not a matter of a bookkeeper being ‘worth that’, but rather the relief of all those things mentioned above being worth that and more. Bookkeepers are heart and soul people who invest themselves in your business and often give so much more than just bookkeeping.


How Will I Know If They Are Right For Me?

By this point you may have created a short list of potential bookkeepers or there may be just one who has been recommended to you. In any case, request a chat. In 15 minutes you will have answers to all sorts of questions and an idea of whether this person aligns with your needs.

Questions to consider asking:

  • How long have you been a bookkeeper?
  • Are you a registered BAS agent?
  • Do you have experience in my industry?
  • Who is your target market? (This is a really important question because a good bookkeeper will have established their niche market based on who they align with. If you fall within their niche market, you are a long way into achieving that fit.)
  • Are you familiar with ‘X’ software?
    (or, if you don’t have your books set up online, ask what software they are familiar with.)
  • Do you work remotely?
  • What services do you offer?
  • What if my needs change? Will you go beyond the original scope of works?
  • Are you familiar with…..? (If you have preferred methods of communication or document sharing, list them here.)

A good bookkeeper will ask you a lot of questions about your business, too. They will be interested in you from the first introduction and be keen to learn about you and your business.

Don’t be disheartened if you don’t feel a connection with your first choice of bookkeeper. That’s life. Numbers are non-emotional, but humans are not. Numbers can mean everything to you and they tell a story about you and your business, which necessarily involves emotion. In fact, numbers speak volumes so it is really important that you get to work with a bookkeeper who enjoys and understands your story.


What If I Want To Do It All Myself?

There are just as many reasons for doing your bookkeeping yourself as there are for outsourcing.

I talk about this in my next blog post.


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