Image courtesy of blacksburgbelle.com
Congratulations! You’ve decided to take the next step and hire a bookkeeper to help organize your business finances and get your bookkeeping systems in place. Now what?
With so many bookkeepers out there, how do you go about evaluating them and hire a bookkeeper best suited to you and your business? All it takes is a bit of research and to ask the right questions.
The internet is a treasure trove of possibilities and a great place to start looking. You may also want to ask around to your friends and friendly businesses for recommendations. Once you have a handful of possibilities for bookkeepers, keep the following in mind when evaluating them for the job:
Look for a bookkeeper with specific experience in your line of work. If they’ve worked with clients similar to you, your bookkeeper will be more keen to know what you and your business need to function financially. She will be better able to understand your particular needs and how best to help you.
Memberships and Certifications
Bookkeepers with memberships in an association is a great indicator of a good bookkeeper. By keeping membership in professional associations, the bookkeeper is bound to stay up to date with the latest in the bookkeeping field, which is a benefit to you. The Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada or the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers are good ones to look out for.
Check to see if they have any certifications in accounting software such as Xero, Wave or Quickbooks. This indicates training and a good knowledge base of these software systems. This is also a good indication that she will be able help you with your chosen accounting system.
This one may seem obvious, but it’s a good reminder. Does she have an overall professional demeanor? Is her website current and up to date? See how long she has been a bookkeeper. Are you ok with that experience? Look for client testimonials and/or ask for references from clients similar to you. Also make sure her rates are in the range of what a reputable bookkeeper would charge. This range is over $30 an hour.
Ask The Right Questions
Talk to her about the tasks involved in bookkeeping. Will she be responsible for entering invoices and payments? Will she create excel files for sales on third-party sites like Etsy? Will she be responsible for entering bills, or use a service like Receipt Bank? Make sure you understand your responsibilities as well as hers.
Ask how she communicates with her clients. How does she handle emergencies or mistakes? A good bookkeeper will outline how she corresponds with clients and will outline strategies that will help you fix mistakes and how she deals with emergencies situations.
A Word of Caution
As a small business owner, you should be wary of people claiming to be professional bookkeepers but are not actually legitimate bookkeepers. If you’ve done your due diligence above, you should easily be able to rule out anyone who isn’t legit.
If their rates are low, it is a sign of a beginner or an untrained bookkeeper. Again, most bookkeepers who are confident and reputable, will have rates above $30 an hour.
By reviewing each of your potential bookkeepers with the information listed above, you should easily be able to narrow down your options and select the best bookkeeper for you.
Contact me today to see if I am a good fit for your business. I specialize in creative businesses that use Xero accounting software and I would love to help you out!
Whenever I go look at bookkeeping websites, I wonder about the person behind the screen. Is she real? Does she really care about her clients? If I send a message will I receive one back?
I want to assure you that I AM real. And I DO care for my clients. And I DO reply to emails. Today I’m sharing a look behind my business, as part of the coolest blog tag started by April of Blacksburg Belle.
Question 1: What’s your two to three sentence bio? (You know, ‘what the heck’ do you do?)
Lisa Savage is the bookkeeper for Creative folks. Having experience from her own creative businesses, she now gives advice to new and old Creatives so that they can make money doing what they love.
Question 2: What’s your favorite part of your job?
At the end of a cycle, whether it’s monthly or yearly, I love seeing everything reconciled. I have a great sigh of relief and satisfaction that everything makes sense.
Question 3: What’s your least favorite part of your job?
I dislike the marketing and website upkeep- even though I have ton of help for that, I don’t look forward to it.
Question 4: What are the top three tools you use the most in your work?
My PC, Receipt Bank, Xero
Question 5: What business goal would you love to reach before the end of the year?
I’m having my website fixed up, and that should be done before the end of the year.
Question 6: Who are three creatives that inspire you?
Question 7: What do you listen to (if anything) while you work?
I have a playlist on youtube.. songs from Adele, Pink, Avril Lavigne etc.
Question 8: Morning person or night owl?
Night owl. I’m the last to bed and the last to get up. (on weekends- I have kids to care for during the week, and I let Daddy take care of the weekends. It’s only fair)
Question 9: How many employees do you have and what are the main things they do for you?
None, but I do have contractors working with me, for website and administration duties.
Question 10: What’s your favorite social media platform?
Question 11: What’s your least favorite social media platform?
Question 12: What works best when it comes to marketing your business?
I’m not actually sure. My website has been good to me so far, but I have a ways to go before coming to any conclusions.
Question 13: What’s one thing about your business that your blog readers probably don’t know?
I am very sociable. (that word looks weird to me). I like talking to people, and answering questions they may have.
Question 14: If your business were a fashion accessory, what would it be?
Since I make fashion accessories, I’ll tell you my favorite. Mittens. Lonnnnnggggg mittens that go to the elbow.
Question 15: What’s your top tip for someone who wants to do something similar to you for a career?
Experience is everything. If you want to start bookkeeping for a creative business, start a creative business. It’s the easiest business to start- easy because Etsy has made it easy for someone to open an online shop- and get the experience of keeping your own books going.
Here are a few twitter followers that may like to do this:
This blog post is a part of the ‘Behind the Scenes of My Business’ Blog Tag started by April of Blacksburg Belle. She began this blog tag experiment to build community among creatives, help us bloggers to connect more and get to know each other better. This month’s topic is all about sharing the behind the scenes stuff of our businesses. If you’d like to participate or want more info, check out this post right here.
(Disclaimer: It’s totally cool to NOT participate if I tagged you and you either: don’t want to do it or don’t have the time. You won’t totally crush my feelings.)
If you’re like most small businesses, cash flow is tight and if you’re just starting out, it’s easy to think you need to do all the administrative work yourself. This line of reasoning is especially true if you’re from the handmade community. The urge to DIY can be so strong, it wipes any notion of extra help from your mind. Because hiring a bookkeeper is an expense you think you don’t have.
So you sign yourself up for what looks like the easiest software and make half-hearted attempts to keep track of expenses. Perhaps you keep your receipts in a shoebox. Or forget to keep them at all. Maybe you check in on your software once or twice a year. Everything looks like its working? Maybe you don’t even look.
Then comes tax time when you have to really look at your accounts and records. Surprise! It’s a mess. Maybe the software stopped working. Maybe there’s double entries you have to fix. Perhaps you find lots of expenses miscategorized. You’re not sure how much money you made or what expenses you can claim.
That’s time and money out the window you weren’t expecting to spend to clean up the mess.
Here’s how hiring a bookkeeper will save you from this headache and save you money to boot!
1. Help Set up a System
A bookkeeper will help find the right accounting software for you. Be it desktop or app, a bookkeeper will train you on how to use it and when and how to input your account information, expenses and invoices. If you’re a small business you don’t need the biggest or most powerful system; you need one suited to your individual needs and a bookkeeper will do just that.
A bookkeeper will also train you on how and where to save your receipts. One way to organize your receipts is to use Receipt Bank. This app allows you to quickly take a picture of your receipt and it helps track your expenses.
By having an accounting system in place and the knowledge on how to use it, you’ll be better prepared to keep track of your incoming and outgoing money.
2. Prepared at Tax Time
Imagine tax time as a stress free time. If you’ve set up that system with your bookkeeper, it can be. A bookkeeper can help keep you organized and on track with your accounting system throughout the year, so this dream can be a reality.
Instead of scrambling for lost receipts and unpaid invoices, a bookkeeper will have helped you reconcile your accounts, (where you match your bank statements to your transactions), and remind you of your unpaid invoices and help ensure that there are no unaccounted expenses.
This is beneficial for quarterly or annual sales tax filing, as well as income taxes. Your nicely organized files can simply be downloaded and sent to your tax preparer, stress free.
3. Saves you Time
Time is money. If you keep on top of your accounting system and do a little bit throughout the year, it adds up to big time savings. For you and for your bookkeeper. If you don’t, disaster can happen.
After vacation one year, I came back to a client’s year end, where you reconcile accounts for the year. I quickly learned that their files weren’t up to date. I spent a month to get the work done. Not only did it cost the client more because of the extra time I had to put in, but it was super stressful for the both of us.
Hiring a bookkeeper to help you set up a system and working with them throughout the year to keep your files organized helps save you money in the long run.
It may seem like a big expense, but it will be an even bigger expense to hire one during the busy seasons to tidy up a big accounting mess.
Free Bookkeeping Assessment
Worried you may be losing money because of your accounting set up? Not sure if your system is running properly? Let me review it. I’d like to offer you a free assessment of your current accounting systems.
Contact me today for your FREE assessment
Image courtesy of smarnad, at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Last week I read on Blacksburg Belle about sharing this post and I thought it would be a good idea. I’ve been working behind the scenes, and not really paying attention to my blog. All that is going to change, starting with this post!
Question 1: How tall are you?
4″11 technically. I tell people I’m 5 Feet.
Question 2: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?
I’ve recently started playing flute again, after 14 years.
Question 3: What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve?
Having to go through hoops just to make a comment on a blog.
Question 4: What’s your biggest non-blog related pet peeve?
Cutting of toe nails/finger nails beside my open drink.
Question 5: What’s your favorite song?
I go through stages of favorite songs.. right now it’s Say Something sung by Pentatonix
Question 6: What’s your favorite Etsy shop that isn’t yours?
Pixie Bell I love the designs
Question 7: What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?
I will watch Hemlock Grove on Netflix.
Question 8: What’s your favorite junk food?
Anything chocolate. I will go so far and eat Nutella on toast.
Question 9: Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?
1 dog, Sasha, who we adopted from my brother-in-law due to “problems” with the dog barking. She doesn’t bark, the “problem” is the neighbor.
Question 10: What are your number one favorite fiction book?
The Stand by Steven King, which I first read when I was a young girl.
Question 11: What’s your favorite beauty product?
Ummm.. I don’t wear makeup. I’ll sometimes put on the stuff that makes your face nice and smooth.
Question 12: When were you last embarrassed? What happened?
Context: I was part of concert to help raise funds for a church to replace some stain-glass windows.
So I was sitting in the audience, waiting for my turn, and after the song ended, I said “psst! Bill!” thinking it was his turn to announce the next song. He quietly pointed to the big screen and I saw we were still on the group songs. I felt like an idiot, and I know I flushed.
Question 13: If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?
If it was healthy, I would drink Pepsi.
Question 14: What’s your favorite movie?
Question 15: What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?
Band Geek all the way.
Question 16: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
Probably New Zealand. It looks nice there.
Question 17: PC or Mac?
Question 18: Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?
A back rub after hubby got home from work.
Question 19: Favorite celebrity?
Patrick Stewart. Love him and Star Trek.
Question 20: What blogger do you secretly want be best friends with?
Jessika Hepburn. I look up to her and am afraid to be in her presence because she’s a successful blogger + writer. I do hope she sees this, and I hope she doesn’t! I am a shy person by nature.
Now here’s a list of people I want to see answer these same questions:
1. Nicole of Mercentile 519 We’ve been online buddies, pen pal buddies, and who knows, maybe we’ll meet one day.
2. Lucinda of Mont Tricot. She’s my local yarn shop owner. She’s fun and we have fun knitting together. She’ also taught me a lot.
3. Jessika of Oh My Handmade. She’s the genius behind a great community, but I’d like to know more about her (after all she’s my secret best friend).
4. Eric of That Bookkeeper. Eric was one of the few bookkeepersI contacted at the beginning of my career. He’s helped me along the way, and I can’t thank him enough.
5. YOU! I hope that you’ll come back with your blog post so that I can get to know the people who read my posts
Back before internet, people used to collect little slips of paper called receipts and organize them (or not) into a shoebox. Eventually one shoebox became many..
Forward to internet days, we had our receipts sent to our email, print them and organize them into shoeboxes.
Forward to NOW, we receive our receipts to our email and then we forward them to the cloud.
I love the cloud. I send everything there that I don’t want to lose.
I’m also happy to say that Receipt Bank is one of the top services for cataloging expenses and invoices. What’s even better than that, I am a Receipt Bank partner! I can now offer Receipt Bank to my clients, which in effect, saves you money.
I’m offering the multi-user account for $18, whereas a regular user would pay $25.
Saves time too- sending receipts to Receipt Bank is simple, just forward your email to Receipt Bank via a specialty address. When you have a good bookkeeper on your side, (like me), the entrepreneur part ends and the bookkeeper begins, taking care of your precious info and exporting it to your online accounting software. That allows you to do what you do best: create.
Get 15 days trial, when you sign up today, and receive an introductory price of $15/month (Regular Price $18/month)
I bet you didn’t know that you could connect your woo commerce site to Xero.
I, of course, read up on the docs to know how to set it up, but I didn’t anticipate the lack of clarity in the instructions. Unless you are a coder and deal with old-school Command Prompt, get ready for a headache!
So I decided to give my own little tips on how to make it easier to install. Here goes!
Step 1: Get OpenSSL
For windows: http://www.slproweb.com/products/Win32OpenSSL.html
For Mac: OpenSSL comes with Mac OS X
Step 2: Using OpenSSL
A) Find your CMD – start menu – search “cmd” – right click it – Run As Administrator.
B) The default directory is or is similar to c:\windows\system32 and what you want is c:\, which is the root directory. To change it, type cd c:\ AFTER the prompt, so visually you’ll see c:\windows\system32>cd c:\
Note: cd means Change Directory
Now you should be seeing c:\> (all code to be entered is in BOLD)
c) You need to find where you saved the OpenSSL and type in the exact file folder where the keys are in (bin)
D) Now enter in the code:
c:\openssl-win32\bin>openssl genrsa -out privatekey.pem 1024
E) Enter the next code:
c:\openssl-win32\bin>openssl req -newkey rsa:1024 -x509 -key privatekey.pem -out publickey.cer -days 1825
If it worked, there will be 7 fields to type in about your business. Fill them in, and you should be able to see a new file in your BIN folder, and it should be called Security Certificate.
Congrats, you now have a Security Certificate. I don’t know how to open it yet, or even if I need to.
I think the rest of the instructions are pretty good to follow, so I won’t get into the rest. There were a lot of people experiencing the same error code, “unable to write to random state” and I believe it is because I wasn’t in Administrator mode.
The first thing to try is Run As Administrator, instead of going into the BIN folder and using the OPENSSL cmd.
I hope this helps! At least this post will serve as a reminder of my efforts!
Happy New Year Business Folks. I hope you were able to enjoy a day of rest from business planning, but if not, let’s get back to work.
If you are looking back and seeing all the things that are wrong and looking forward with anxiety, you aren’t alone. I would say that January is a very stressful month just because we’re all thinking about our impending tax returns and worrying about how our business didn’t quite reach our goals.
Take a breathe. You can organize yourself to make your business and life easier.
Starting this year, signup to a file sharing system like Drop Box. This will keep your important files backed up in case of hard drive failure.
Organize your file system to make sense FOR YOU. I happen to keep separate folders per month and I name them as “1-Jan 2014″. Call it a pet peeve, but I hate to look at a bunch of folders in alphabetical order when I really want to see the files in order by month.
Get yourself a professional accounting system. I can’t say this enough times. My favorites to refer is Wave Apps, and Xero. Wave Apps is free forever, and Xero has a 6 month free trial. There are certain cases to use one over the other, but you can’t go wrong with trying them BOTH for six months.
So those are my tips for a brighter business. And yes, I’ve followed my own advice for a whole year and I’m not bombarded with my ziploc baggies of receipts to enter before taxes are due. True story.
Like this? Subscribe to my email list and get your FREE Wave Apps start up ebook!
Image courtesy of marin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Have you seen the show Princess on TLC? A “Princess” spends money like crazy using her credit card while avoiding bills and the financial burden that she places on her family and friends. Most of the young women turn around their lives, and they learn how to better manage their budgets. And how do they do it- they stop spending credit like it’s free cash!
This is the worlds perception of credit. It can be bad if you spend more than you can afford, and is good for when you need to borrow; when you need a new car or want to buy a house.
In the accounting world, it’s not so clear cut. As in debits, credits also swing both ways.
Lets go back to my example of yarn supplies.
I bought $100 worth of supplies and I learned that I had to make two accounts in my bookkeeping software. I made a debit to Yarn Supplies and a credit to Paypal. If I were thinking of credit in terms of a credit card, this example would make sense. My Paypal account isn’t my actual bank account, but a medium in which to pay for purchases. Eventually, if I keep buying yarn with my paypal account, my account would go to zero and I’d have to fill it up again by transferring my bank account money to paypal. But I digress.
In this new example, I sold a pair of Bella Mittens for $100 using my paypal account, and here’s how the old fashioned way of showing it:
Now my credit has new meaning. I credited an account called Bella Mittens Sales, which tally’s up all my sale amounts and gives me a credit balance. A credit balance in a Sales(Revenue) account means that I am well on my way to getting rich. In turn, my paypal account has also increased, because it is an asset and debits increase asset accounts.
In Wave Apps, the transaction would look like this:
Click on “Add Income”
1. Credits increase revenue(sales or services) accounts.
2. Credits decrease assets(paypal, bank) accounts
3. Debits increase assets(paypal, bank) accounts
3. *Debits decrease revenue(sales or services) accounts
*For Experts: This isn’t a normal transaction. When there is a sale or service performed but not paid, it becomes an account receivable or payable.
Want to know more about Wave Apps? Sign up to my mailing list to get your free ebook!
- Learn how to make an account on waveapps.com
- Learn how to link your Etsy account
- Learn how to link your paypal account
- Learn about Transactions
- Learn about the the basic settings
- Learn about the Income Statement
If you are a blogger and wish to review this ebook, I’ll be very happy to send it to you!
Have a question? Leave a comment below!
Image courtesy of worradmu / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
When I was younger, say 20- I didn’t know what a debit is. I’d get confused when I went across the border and I was asked if I was paying with cash or credit. Everyone over on my side asked for débit (say it with a french accent) and I knew that once I used it, it would take money out of my bank account directly. I thought of my debit card as a money-sucker.
I was oblivious and most people are.
Now that I am a business owner, it has a new meaning. Debit is no longer just a drain of my money, but a way to organize balances.
Accounts with a DEBIT balance are your expenses, assets, and draws.
Expenses are anything you purchase to run, manage, and maintain your business. For example, Etsy fees, Paypal fees, supplies of materials, website hosting, house utilities, advertising.
Assets are objects with monetary value. For example, cash, office furniture, car, building, account receivables (amounts owed to you).
Draws are the amounts that a business owner takes out of the business to use for personal reasons. This is equivalent to a paycheck from an employer. Congrats to you if you can pay yourself a wage!
Now lets apply this to your bookkeeping.
I bought $100 worth of yarn for last month. Old-Style, it would look similar to this:
Debit- yarn supplies account
Credit- paypal (more on this later!)
In Wave apps it would look like this:
First click on “add expense”
In Wave Apps, the “account” field automatically enters your money account, taking the first one listed. My money accounts are “Cash on Hand”, “Paypal” and “Paypal USD”, so I chose “paypal”, and then I have to determine what type of account( (or category, in this case) that my expense goes under. In the drop menu of category, I can choose from a list of expenses, or make my own, which I did, and called it Yarn Supplies. Simple right?
My Yarn Supplies account now has a debit balance(increase) of $100, and my paypal account has credit balance(decrease).
I purchased yarn, and I have an increase?? It sounds ironic right? In this case, like I said at the beginning, an expense account has a regular debit balance. Then it follows that because I debited the account with $100, it has increased and my total expenses to date is $100.
Most people are accustomed to only using and tracking their bank account. In Wave Apps, each purchase that you now make has TWO accounts. When you buy supplies, you make a supply account. When you buy advertising, you make an advertising account. When you hire someone to do your taxes, you make a tax expense account. You can call them whatever you like, but the point is to be consistent so that you can track all these accounts and be able to judge whether you are spending too much on advertising, or on materials, whatever the case.
Next time I’ll go over the second part of this, which is Credit. And no, not your credit cards
Do you have an expense that you don’t know how to categories/label? Let me know in the comments below!
When I opened my Etsy Shop, Petite Tuques, I didn’t know much about online selling. Instead, I started out knowing how to track my sales and purchases. To most, the mere thought of entering data into an excel sheet or a professional accounting system is frustrating to say the least. Bookkeeping doesn’t have to be tiresome, and I’m going to tell you why.
You Are A Pro
Being a pro in your profession, whether you are a knitter, painter, jewelry maker, or coach, you have decided to take things seriously, and work on your shop or website full time. With that, you are probably using professional systems that make your business easier to function. Bookkeeping should be in that category.
The more you understand about bookkeeping, the more you will realize that you need to use professional systems, ie. QuickBooks, Sage 50, Xero, Wave- to name a few.
I was referred to a FREE accounting tutorial website, Bean Counter, where you can learn the basics of accounting. Terms like debit, credit, posting, special journals, balance sheet are all explained in detail. There are mini tests to do to test your knowledge- presented in a fun way that is guaranteed to make you smile. If you feel up to the task of learning how to book-keep for your business, I highly suggest starting there.
Pick Your System
There are many programs out there, and it can be difficult to choose. Most softwares are online now, and have free trials, so you can join and use a program for a limited time and choose which one to use for your business.
My suggestions are
1)Wave Apps – a FREE online based system that syncs with Etsy and Paypal
2) Xero – an online based system that is more professional and requires a monthly fee as low as $19 a month.
Both the above systems can be connected to an accountant/bookkeeper of your choice, which brings us to:
Outsource Your Bookkeeping
If you really, really, really don’t like to do bookkeeping, then outsourcing is the best thing that you can do for your business. Letting someone else do the work for you will enable you to focus on what you are good at.
The bookkeeper you choose will be a part of your business, and will know your business intimately, so you do want to interview and get to know your potential partners. Yes, I consider a bookkeeper to be a partner in the sense that bookkeepers are in the position to help the business owner with the financials, and should actively work to help the business owner save costs, where possible.
Work With Me
If you haven’t already guessed it, but my line of work here at Crafty Bookkeeping is bookkeeping. I suggest Wave and Xero because I am part of their Pro Network and I actively use the programs for my own businesses.
In Wave Apps, I can be added to your account via “Invite a Guest Collaborator” from the dashboard. I can then link your Etsy account (if applicable), bank account (if applicable), or paypal account. You are able to scan or photograph your receipts and upload them directly to Wave, which will then allow me to enter the transactions.
Xero has all the main functions as a traditional accounting software (like Sage 50) where you can enter transactions into a general journal, sale invoice, or purchase invoice. If are already familiar with the concepts of entering debits and credits, then this program should be easy to navigate. Unlike Wave Apps, it’s the bookkeeper who invites you to collaborate. I have a “partner edition” on Xero, which allows me to make an organization which I invite a client with limited uses into the software.
I’ve been searching the internet for info about what bookkeepers charge to clients; and what I’ve seen is that junior bookkeepers will charge anywhere between 25-30 dollars an hour. So I’m going to charge $25 an hour.
I want to make clear that you can email me with questions, or set up an appointment on skype, all for free. I want to learn about your business, and your concerns as you do business.
Give me a shout, and I can’t wait to start working with you!