Donna Reade

Specializing in Consulting, Training, E-Commerce Solutions & Bookkeeping for QuickBooks Online

Good Bookkeeping and How to Recognize It

Whether you’re looking for a new bookkeeper or reevaluating your existing one, you need to know what characteristics to look for to determine the quality and longevity of the potential partnership. What constitutes good bookkeeping? Is it defined by the number of years of experience, or saying “yes” to everything you ask? Or is it more than that? Knowing how to recognize good bookkeeping allows you to set certain expectations and hold your bookkeeper accountable. It also prepares you to make better decisions when choosing what kind of bookkeeper you want to partner with.

Here are five essential qualities to look for in a good bookkeeper:

1. Excellent communication skills
Possessing good communication skills doesn’t just mean speaking clearly. It’s about being able to explain complex ideas in easy-to-understand ways, proactively following up on tasks, asking important questions about your business, and really listening to what you have to say. Look for someone who’s willing to communicate key concepts at a pace you’re comfortable with, and don’t be afraid to ask questions!
2. Adept at accounting software and new technologies
When bookkeepers utilize the latest business software and technologies, it’s an indication that they’re committed to increasing efficiencies and providing a more robust service. If your bookkeeper knows how to leverage accounting software and other kinds of business software to streamline things like invoicing, payments, and payroll, you’ll know how every aspect of your business ties into the other – operationally and financially.
3. Organization and teamwork
Having stellar organization skills is basically a prerequisite to becoming a bookkeeper. But what about organizing a team and building a sense of unity? Do you feel like you and your bookkeeper work independently, or do you consider them a part of your crew? These are some critical questions to ask yourself when you’re thinking about how you can get the most out of your bookkeeper.
4. Flexibility to adapt to different working styles
Does your business have unusual operating hours? Or perhaps you only prefer to communicate via email. Maybe you’ve got a CPA but still need a bookkeeper for day-to-day operations. Whatever your situation might be, finding a bookkeeper who’s willing to be flexible with your working and communication style can make for a dynamic business partnership.
5. Relationship building skills
Finding a good bookkeeper needn’t be difficult. But when you do find one, you probably want to stick to them. Do they have good people skills that make you want to build a long-term partnership with them? A solid bookkeeper understands the value of every business relationship and will work to deliver high-quality services to ensure that expectations are met, if not exceeded.

13 Responses to Good Bookkeeping and How to Recognize It

  1. Linda Mohler says:

    Excellent article. Every employer that has need or currently
    has a bookkeeper should read this, then they would not keep their bookkeeper who us bluffing her way to keep her job.
    I have worked for businesses who had a bookkeeper before
    me that had never been a bookkeeper before. What a job
    getting everything balance after I was hired.

    Linda Mohler

  2. Arva Butler says:

    Hi Donna, I am one of your email subscribers. I enjoyed reading your 20 Things You Need to Know about Accounting and Bookkeeping. I would like to consider this as a handout to my clients. Is this permissible? If so, what are the restrictions?

  3. Joseph Ezenwa says:

    Donna,Well articulated article.Keep up the good work.

  4. Stephanie Wells says:

    Communication can be especially difficult when the business owner or manager doesn’t view the “bookkeeper” as the “expert” (read: you aren’t a CPA, what do you know) or is so set in their ways they will not take your advice or follow your instructions (eg. when to pay payroll taxes or to change a process).

    I had one former client who had their QBD file on a PC that was ONLY on the network via WiFi. When I was working there I had CONSTANT problems with disconnecting from the file and for 2 years I told them the issue would be solved by purchasing and using a single 25 foot network patch cable. When the owner started complaining about his own connectivity I reminded him once of my advice, and even offered to make the purchase for him myself. He refused and I have never been back.

  5. Tyreen Bistoguey says:

    Bookkeepers are the lifeblood of a business. Their outputs help in decision-making. This is the reason why bookkeepers should be keen and have the qualities as enumerated in the article. Bookkeepers should in turn be an asset and not a liability to the company. Trust is one thing.

  6. Carol Merrill says:

    I’ve seen some small businesses under-value the role of the bookkeeper and the condition of their books reflects the personnel choices they have made in the past. A good bookkeeper will serve as your financial partner, customizing his/her duties to your financial needs. In my opinion, he/she is a crucial component to the success of your business. Finding the right one may take a few tries, but is a worthwhile use of time and effort.

  7. Debora Gonzalez says:

    Good article, thank you

  8. Nicky Hagenbeek says:

    Good article. It is also important to ensure that they are qualified and regulated.

  9. Carina Heemskerk says:

    Agree! Bookkeeping is not only a press on the button to generate a trial balance or an income statement. It is about analyzing the numbers as well and an understanding of how the business owner works and what his / her goal is. Therefore you need a relationship with your customer, understanding the business to provide thorough advice.

  10. Julie Cann says:

    I think if you are getting your new clients by recommendations, its the best indicator of being a ‘Good Bookkeeper’. Great article.

  11. Ravish Sharma says:

    Completly agree and also let’s not forget about the value added to the business by providing accurate information on time with recommendation on improving prevailing business condition

  12. Liz Wise says:

    The bookkeeper adds value to business and personal finance. Value is having a key person watching accounts, trends, recurring charges, profit margins and contributing to strategic planning, budgeting and future needs. I agree with the threads of this posting.

  13. Jamel Slater says:

    A forward thinking bookkeeper is key. Technology has transformed the way that bookkeepers engage with their clients. Does he or she have current knowledge of the technological advances that can make the bookkeeping process more efficient?

    Is he or she familiar with modern day cloud based solutions that make bookkeeping more innovative? These are also important for a business owner to consider.