Are you finally considering hiring an extra hand or two to help you manage your business financials? But based on your business and your current needs you may be wondering, should I hire an accountant or should I hire a bookkeeper?
In this post, we’ll highlight the differences between bookkeeping and accounting and some key considerations to help you determine what is right for you and your business.
What is bookkeeping?
The definition of bookkeeping is the process of monitoring various day-to-day financial transactions for organizations or individuals. Bookkeeping responsibilities can range from a variety of simple to complex functions. Simple functions can include recording purchases, generating customer invoices, or managing payroll, whereas complex functions can be budgeting, cash flow projection, developing financial systems and software conversions.
If considering a bookkeeper make sure to look for specific accreditations offered through bookkeeping-specific organizations, such as the Certified Professional Bookkeepers of Canada (CPB Canada).
What is accounting?
Accounting is a high-level view of the financial health and position of the business. Although similar to bookkeeping, it is more subjective as accountants typically provide business owners with financial insights such as their financial position and cash flow based on the information collected and prepared from bookkeeping data. Typical responsibilities can include generating reports, performing audits and preparing financial documents such as tax returns, income statements and balance sheets. In addition, accounting can help with strategic planning, by augmenting the daily or weekly management reporting.
In terms of accountant certifications, there were three commonly accepted types in Canada. This includes the Chartered Accountant (CA), the Certified General Accountant (CGA) and the Certified Management Accountant (CMA). However, in recent years these designations have been amalgamated into one designation called the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA).
Determining which is right for you
While bookkeepers and accountants each have their own roles and responsibilities, it’s not as simple as choosing one over the other. Ultimately, bookkeepers and accountants work together to provide an overall financial picture of the business and are both especially important if you are experiencing or plan to experience significant business growth.
No matter the business size, organizations may need accountants to prepare reports to measure their progress or other financial statements, which would require the operational tracking a bookkeeper provides. Bookkeepers get to know the business very well and can be a great source for discussion, advisory functions and financial planning.
A consideration to keep in mind is that bookkeepers typically work on a daily, monthly or weekly basis, which is a key component to building a financially viable business. Whereas an accountant generally steps in near the end of the year to help prepare financial statements and the tax return. Ultimately, having a good bookkeeper and a well-organized accounting system can help you stay on track throughout the year and reduce your accounting costs significantly.
A takeaway from KBBS
At the end of the day as your business grows, so will your bookkeeping and accounting duties. Hiring a professional is key in continuing your growth and allows you to focus on what’s truly important.
The goal of KBBS is to help you create and maintain a system that will enable you to make informed business decisions with confidence and ultimately thrive, grow and profit. Whether it’s helping you manage your everyday transactions or business taxes, KBBS has got you covered.
Let’s face it, being a small business owner is no easy task. There is no shortage of things to manage, however understanding your financials, or at least having a team to help manage them and keep you informed is key to your success. In this post, we highlight why it’s important to stay on top of your financials, and areas to prioritize your involvement.
Staying on top of your financials
Your business financials are a strong indicator of your business’ health and what you can expect in the future. Moving forward, you’ll be able to make the best decisions for you and your business and build a solid strategy to achieve your goals. Whether it’s making additional investments, identifying requirements to apply for business loans, or deciding to release a new product, you’ll be able to proceed with confidence knowing you have the financial resources to do so.
Example strategies and outcomes
Here are further examples of how understanding your financials can help you make the best decisions for your business and business goals.
Investing in new assets
Say you decide to invest in new assets – for example, new computers for your employees. Having a strong understanding of your current financials, allows you to easily determine how you will pay for this investment and when the investment will pay itself off.
Securing a loan
One day you hope to secure a loan, in order to complete a specific project that will have a strong return on investment. Being able to identify how much is required, how much you can afford to borrow and when you will be able to pay it back are all extremely important factors to map out. If you do not have a strong understanding of your current financials, you may fail to secure the loan, or worse, fail to earn a return on your initial investment.
It’s that time of year, tax season. Being in the loop with your finances takes the headache out of filing taxes. You can easily determine your revenue and identify your expenses in order to stay compliant with tax liability. Not only that, you will get the most out of your deductible expenses, by knowing what ones to write off.
Key areas to focus on
While the more you know and understand about your financials, it can be overwhelming to stay on top of it all. After all, you didn’t start a business to crunch numbers in the evening.
Here are some key areas to focus on to give you a solid understanding of your business’ financial health.
Balance sheet: according to Investopedia, a balance sheet is a financial statement that reports on a company’s assets, liabilities and equity at a specific point in time.
Income statement: BDC describes an income statement as a fundamental document to make up a company’s financial reporting, showing the profitability of a business over a specific period of time. It summarizes revenues and expenses, and also shows the company’s net profit or loss.
Cash flow statement: a cash flow statement, otherwise known as a flow statement, determines and summarizes the amount of cash or other cash equivalents that enters or leaves a business.
Signs it’s time to hire a bookkeeper
Again, while it’s wise to keep an eye on your finances, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be the sole person managing them. If you’re struggling to manage the growing list of to-do’s, hiring a bookkeeper can ensure that you stay on track and meet your business goals, allowing you to focus on the other important aspects of your business.
Check out our post, where we highlight what hiring a bookkeeper can do for you.
With the world quickly migrating to a digital landscape, more and more accountants have also made the choice to implement cloud accounting software. In fact, research shows that 67% of accountants actually prefer cloud accounting. However, implementing new software requires change management, from onboarding and training new users, migrating data and other associated tasks.
While this may seem daunting, or you’re on the fence about moving to the cloud, here are three main advantages you must consider.
What is cloud-accounting?
Before we dive in, what is cloud-accounting? With cloud-accounting, your software is in the “cloud” rather than on your desktop or local server. What this means is none of the accounting processes occur on your laptop, but instead are run through and hosted in the cloud. In simpler terms, it’s a remote but extremely secure server. This does not mean you cannot download reports and other files from the cloud to your desktop, it simply means that everything is stored remotely.
Accessibility and easy collaboration
When using cloud accounting software, you have the freedom to access your files from any location, 24/7, as long as you have a secure wifi connection. This provides great flexibility for organizations with multiple offices, teams that are located in different geographies and full-time remote employees. Collaboration is also streamlined, as you no longer have to send various files through email to find that the files are too large for Outlook or Gmail. With cloud-accounting, users can instantly access the files they need.
In the past, there have been concerns surrounding security with any cloud-software, for example gaining improper access to sensitive data, or files being distributed to incorrect staff members. However, these concerns are diminishing quickly as organizations continue to move more and more towards a digital environment.
Today, with cloud-software, you no longer have to worry about the loss of files as they are constantly and automatically backed up to the cloud. Multiple vendors also offer file encryption, geo-replication, and file recovery, meeting the high-security requirements set out by IT teams across large scale organizations.
One of the most prominent advantages of using cloud-accounting software is potential cost savings for your organization. By using a cloud-solution, IT teams no longer are required to spend extensive hours and resources on support and maintenance, like they would on-premise solutions. With cloud-solutions, your selected vendor will be responsible for all system updates, maintenance, and customer support. Research has shown that organizations that have migrated to a cloud-solution have saved up to 50% on their labor costs to maintain a locally installed solution. Additional bonus? Your organization will also save on typical office costs such as paper, printing, and storage expenses.
The way of the future
Cloud-accounting software is here to stay, as it is a proactive solution that offers organizations greater flexibility but also more insight into their businesses than ever. If you’re looking to make the first step, make sure to reach out. As a Sage Business Cloud Accounting and Sage 50 partner, we are able to provide insight and a plan that will work for your specific business needs.
If a disaster were to strike, would you and your business be prepared? Whether it’s an earthquake, an economic downturn, or taking emergency medical leave if you’re a “solopreneur”, it’s important to have a business continuity plan in place.
While a business continuity plan can vary in detail and initiatives for different organization types and sizes, it’s important to have a plan in place in order to minimize the disruption to your business. In this post in particular, we’ll highlight what this plan could look like for small businesses and tips for preparing your own.
Determine key roles and responsibilities
When forming a business continuity plan, a key starting point is highlighting who needs to be involved. If you are the sole business owner, do you have other industry colleagues or family members who can assist if you are unable to work? If you are a small business with a handful of employees, who will be responsible for what key functions that will allow the business to continue operating?
By defining who will be involved ahead of time, you enable yourself or your team to be proactive and confidently perform necessary tasks to stay afloat in a time of crisis. For example, if you are a team of three, one individual could be responsible for ensuring monthly transactions continue, another could be responsible for customer communication, and the third could be responsible for scheduling and staff communication. If each individual is assigned to set tasks and have a clear understanding of each, they can be implemented immediately as necessary.
Ensure easy access
Now to get into specifics, what tasks do you need to consider when putting together your continuity plan? These will depend on your organization type, size, and operations. However there are a few that can be carried across any organization.
An important first step is to ensure that your continuity plan is easily accessible for your team to review if an emergency arises. Investing in a cloud storage solution such as Google Drive or Sync is a quick way to achieve this. Within this platform, store your continuity plan and ensure that the rest of your team has the appropriate permissions to view and download so they can easily refer back to in times of crisis.
The second is to ensure that everyone can access the programs they utilize on a regular basis. For these programs – what are the steps to log in, and are the appropriate employees equipped with the login credentials? Examples as such can be your website, bookkeeping software, employee scheduling software, social media platforms, and more. By providing your team with access to the key programs they utilize on a regular basis, key individuals can easily jump-in to help ensure that operations continue as smoothly as possible. A great recommendation to securely share passwords among team members is Zoho Vault.
Review and test
As mentioned, each continuity plan is unique and will vary in terms of procedures and tasks. However, once complete, it is crucial to review it with your team. A key component of your plan’s success is ensuring it is shared and communicated in advance. This will allow for your team members to digest and feel comfortable with the plan, but also ask questions on specific procedures that may lack clear instruction or might have been forgotten when the plan was being developed.
It’s also important to test your plan. Try working your way through it from start to finish – are there any elements that were forgotten, or not as smooth as you’d hoped? Testing your plan provides the opportunity to make small adjustments and address any weaknesses.
Building a continuity plan doesn’t need to be tedious or scary – in fact it can also be a great opportunity to identify small changes that could help with team enablement, accessibility, and productivity.
If you’re in the process of putting your business continuity plan in place, make sure to check out this post from the BDC, as well as our latest post which provides resources specifically around maintaining payroll during periods of uncertainty.