Most small businesses of a certain size can certainly benefit from a fulltime bookkeeper, however not all of them require one, especially the smallest of businesses. For the smallest of businesses, all they generally need is a way to invoice customers, get paid and to pay their own bills. To be clear, I’m talking about tiny businesses with less than a handful of employees.
Invoicing customers for these businesses can be as simple as using Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel to format your invoice, and then printing and mailing them off (or sending them via email for a more electronic experience). The most important aspect in invoicing is having professional-looking invoices sent out in a timely manner and neither one of these tasks requires the help of a bookkeeper.
Receiving payments is where the rubber meets the road. Great looking invoices are important, but formatting doesn’t matter unless your customers actually pay them. One way to expedite payment is by making sure your customers have a variety of method to pay. Checks are still very important, but electronic methods of payment are becoming more and more popular. Payment methods such as electronic credit card payments, and services such as Paypal have gained a lot of traction with these small businesses and they can increase the speed at which you can book payments. Again, doing collections, especially for businesses that have taken a more electronic approach to getting paid, does not require the assistance of a bookkeeper.
Paying bills is another crucial task that can be easily managed on a weekly or monthly basis using either a banking website directly, a dedicated online bill payment website, or one of a wide variety of simple software packages. Depending on the complexity of the business, managing payables can be a time consuming task and could require the assistance of a bookkeeper, but it is usually managed in-house at a tiny business.
To summarize, bookkeepers certainly have their place in small businesses. For the smallest businesses, quarterly or annual trips to a bookkeeper to help with taxes are usually all that is required. But as a business grows to a certain point where the volume of invoices, bills and other receivables and liabilities warrant meticulous tracking and reporting, bookkeepers take on a much more important role.
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