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Hiring an Accountant vs Doing it on Your Own: A Small Business’s Guide

2021 08 03 accountant

[3-minute read]

As a small business owner, there’s no end to your job description. Boss, delivery driver, marketer, HR, photographer, cleaner, bookkeeper. For a while, that’s OK. But the more you grow, the less time and capacity you’ll have to wear all these hats on top of participating in your personal life. The last thing you want to do is perform sloppy tasks that could lead to trouble down the line, and nowhere else is this more pertinent than in your bookkeeping. Taxes and audits are things you don’t want to get wrong. But how do you know when it’s time to hire an accountant? 

Can you do your own books? 

A plus in doing bookkeeping on your own is that it’s free. If you’re trying to keep your overheads as low as possible, then saving on hiring freelancers or full time staff is a big bonus. And of course, as a small business owner, you want to know the ins and outs of what you’re doing really well. The discipline of tracking expenses and payroll will benefit your overall understanding of the financial health of your enterprise. 

And it’s possible that your business is still in very early stages where the expenditure is simple and costs easy to track. In that case, with a bit of dedication, you’ll be able to manage on your own. Once you start growing, check in with yourself and see if the arrangement still suits you. 

What could go wrong? 

Accounting, like any other profession, has its own rigours, rules, and regulations that not everybody is aware of. It could be easy to make mistakes or misapply a rule or new law to your books. If your bookkeeping is just another task on a long list of things to do, the potential for errors only increases. Rushing never helped anybody, but sometimes it’s the only speed we feel that we can do things. 

You could also simply just not be using your time well by doing your own books. As a business owner, your time is really valuable, and spending hours on laborious tasks that someone else could most likely do better is not a great use of your time. Of course, you may be using some kind of accounting software, but even then, there comes a point where the management of your business’s financials can no longer be your sole responsibility. 

Maybe a bookkeeper isn’t such a bad idea

As a juggling small business owner, imagine the relief of taking one of those balls out of airborne circulation. A bookkeeper doesn’t need to be a massive expense to you, you most likely wouldn’t even need to hire one full time. With an accountant on board, the margin for error in your books will go way down – it’s their job to be precise, after all. 

Trust is the fundamental element of a relationship with an accountant, so make sure you find someone who comes with great reviews and referrals. Conduct thorough interviews and move forward with a choice when you feel comfortable that this person could benefit your business and free up some of your time and headspace. 

Beyond doing the books, accountants can advise and help with an array of matters pertaining to the financial health of your business. When it comes to audits, expansion, selling a business, applying for a loan, dealing with new government mandates, writing a business plan, or selecting financial management software, an accountant could be an invaluable resource to you. 

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide whether you’d like a bookkeeper or not. A professional accountant is most likely worth the investment one would require, but it’s not necessarily something you need to do right now. Assess for yourself how long it takes to get your books done and whether you enjoy it. There’s no harm in getting a professional to do a job excellently, and there’s no better place to invest money than in the financial health of your business. 

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