Think you’re at a place with your business accounting where you might want to hire a bookkeeper? That’s fantastic—you’re taking a huge step toward getting your business as financially healthy as possible.
Bookkeepers can do a lot of things that you may not be able to do with general financial knowledge. Even if you consider yourself very financially literate, bookkeepers are trained to save you money by spotting inefficiencies and redundancies, making sure your affairs are in order for tax time, and ensuring your bills are paid on time so you don’t get charged late fees.
These financial professionals do come with a cost, however. Depending on the extent of their duties and expertise, fees for bookkeepers vary. Still, it’s worth considering enlisting the service of a bookkeeper—especially since you might end up saving money in the long run.
Here’s what to expect.
What you should expect to pay a bookkeeper
As we briefly mentioned, there’s a range of fees associated with hiring a bookkeeper. That range will be contingent on how much experience you require, whether or not you want that person onsite, the breadth of their duties, and more.
You’ll want to keep in mind whether you have a certain goal for your bookkeeper, such as overseeing your books to ensure you’re organized and tidy with your finances, or whether you’re hoping for someone to keep a strategic eye on your records for the long term.
You also may want to consider whether or not you have a preference as to which kind of software they’re using. Some will have expertise in, say, QuickBooks, while others will prefer Xero, Bench, Zoho Books, or something else entirely.
Part-time costs for bookkeeping
Some small businesses take the first step with a bookkeeper on an hourly basis. It’s a good choice for many, especially because you’ll be able to choose which side of the range you want to pay.
Hourly fees for bookkeepers generally range between $40 and $60. You could also hire a certified public accountant (CPA), who can do your taxes and act as a controller or financial analyst for your company. As you might expect, they come with a higher cost; some CPAs run about $75 per hour, while others can charge $200 per hour and up.
Besides looking at hourly rates, you also will want to figure out how many hours you anticipate this person will be spending on their work. Some businesses will only need a few hours a week; others with more complex finances may need a bit more attention.
If you’re not sure about this number, write out a list of the duties you’ve been performing, and add in any other wish-list items. You can either track the time you spend doing all of these tasks, or ask a fellow business owner how long their bookkeeper works on similar work.
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Salaried or full-time costs for bookkeeping
You may get to a point at which your hourly rate surpasses a flat fee or salaried position. In that case, you can negotiate with a bookkeeper to see if they can work on a set retainer (a flat fee for a scope of work), or pay someone to join your staff.
According to a recent salary estimate at Glassdoor, bookkeeper salaries can range between about $25,000 and $49,000, depending on a person’s level of expertise and location. You’ll also want to factor in what benefits cost to your company if you’re thinking of bringing on someone full time.
Software costs for bookkeeping
Let’s come back to software now. You may be at a place where you already have a good foundation of accounting software, and you’ve already factor in your fees. But if you don’t, or your bookkeeper has a different preference for the ideal software for your company, then you may need to factor in the cost of these programs.
Some accounting software is a one-time, flat fee. This generally ranges from about $200 to $350, depending on the kind of features you’re hoping for. Other software is billed monthly, generally with tiered pricing. In those cases, you can plan to budget about $10 to $50 per month, with a few exceptions here and there.
One thing is nearly universal: Professional business accountants generally don’t find enough function with free accounting software.
Places a bookkeeper will help you save money
Remember that although a bookkeeper or accountant is an investment, you may find that the savings associated with having a professional do your books is greater than what you’re paying for the help.
Pros can help you save the following costs:
- Late fees on bills
- Mistakes on taxes and withholdings
- Cost inefficiencies and redundancies
- Supplier discounts for early payment
- Collecting on delinquent payments
And much more.
Weigh the costs and benefits of hiring a bookkeeper
Before you enlist the help of an accountant or bookkeeper, do the same diligence you would do for any other employee. Figure out whether you can afford it, then get quotes from a few different candidates. Make sure you also do an audit of the time you’re spending, and duties you think you need; consider also getting a second opinion. Remember that you can also hire someone for a one-time project to get your books in order. This can serve as a test run.
With all of this information, you should be able to get a clear sense of whether or not you can afford a bookkeeper. Don’t forget that even if you can’t see all of the benefits now, you may be looking at a great investment down the line.
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