Bryant's Bookkeeping Services Bryant's Bookkeeping Services Wed, 22 Jun 2016 23:56:14 +0000 en-AU hourly 1 Why track time? Wed, 22 Jun 2016 23:43:32 +0000 As a business owner have you ever found yourself completely at a loss as to why some jobs have made no money at all and taken so much longer than expected? Or what you thought was a reasonable time estimate turned out to be completely off the mark? It can be quite easy sometimes for hours worked to blow out, especially with a looming deadline, unexpected complications arising or a desire to keep a new client happy. And with fixed fee jobs, the business simply has to wear the cost of the extra hours worked. It ‘s essential for all businesses, particularly project based ones, to know exactly how the time of their employees and contractors is being spent in order to monitor productivity and ultimately profitability. By always using employee time sheets and job time tracking software, managers can consistently track hours worked and know which jobs are most profitable, which to outsource or which to simply say ‘no’ to.

By knowing how long certain tasks are taking, and seeing where you spend your time, you can make your project estimates more accurate and your business more productive. This close monitoring helps keep project hours in check, and businesses that track billable hours can easily see the time spent on a particular project. This is also a very good way of ensuring accurate billing by simply generating reports with relevant hours worked and tasks performed. This provides accountability to clients that may be concerned they are being overcharged.

Some time management software offers flexible monitoring for different employees and job types. Employers can track each employee or contract worker and even generate individual reports for greater accountability. For those companies that hire contractors or other freelance talent, time tracking can help keep hours to a specified amount. It also helps to minimises employee distractions. It keeps employees focused and accountable for their every minute ensuring time spent on personal or other non-work related activity won’t take their attention away from the job at hand and it gives employers a way to track it if they do.

The use of time sheets and job tracking software can also be an excellent way to manage time even if your business doesn’t do project based jobs and you don’t need to closely track time spent on client or billable work. It allows you to adjust resources, reprioritise and streamline processes where needed. Tracking your time across all jobs and other business activity can help increase productivity by making you focus on the task you’re working on and can give you a clear picture of exactly where your time is being spent, on a daily basis and over the long term.

Time tracking improves overall company time management. When employees and their managers track the time spent on daily tasks, the company can use this data to streamline processes and improve efficiencies at the individual level but also throughout the business. This makes good business sense, increases efficiency and profitability and ultimately makes both management and clients happy.

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The hidden costs of taking on new staff Wed, 08 Jun 2016 04:05:45 +0000 There are many benefits to hiring full time employees. They will generally have a greater level of commitment and be more likely to perform a variety of different tasks and learn new skills. Also, the hourly wage is often much less than a contractor or casual employee because of the job security and entitlements. But when taking on permanent staff you need to be very careful that you take into account all of the costs involved. You then need to weigh up these costs against the expected increased productivity that this new employee will bring, and ultimately how this affects your business’s profitability.

You may find that the additional benefits outweigh the additional costs, or that you are better off leaving things as they are.

If you are time-poor then employing someone to help you at a lower rate than your own can leave you with more time for chargeable work & actually be financially beneficial

There are many hidden costs associated with taking on new staff.

• Recruiting – You need to consider the time and costs associated with advertising, selecting and interviewing applicants. For some businesses this could mean a lengthy process.
• Training – Then once you’ve decided on a new employee, there is the time and costs involved in ongoing training so they’re familiar with the systems and processes and can grow into their new job and work effectively with other employees. Setting procedures up to minimise supervision requirements is time consuming initially, but will pay off over time.
• Space – There may also be the expense associated with improving the infrastructure of your business premises such as creating space that another employee will need. The business may even need to move somewhere else in order to employ new people.
• Equipment – You also need to consider other factors such as the cost of the equipment they will require eg protective clothing, tools, extra workstations.
• On-costs – Apart from the obvious cost of paying a base salary, there are also the costs relating to employee entitlements such as setting up and preparing regular payroll in a compliant manner, superannuation, annual leave, sick leave, public holidays and workers’ compensation insurance. These additional costs can add 25% to 30% to the basic wage.
After careful consideration of these expenses, you will be in a much better position to decide whether or not it’s a good idea to take on permanent staff or to just continue resourcing your business with casual employees and contractors.

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Advantages to hiring full-time employees Wed, 18 May 2016 23:21:37 +0000 Following up from our blog earlier this month on the various types of employment categories there are, I thought it might be a good idea to take a look at the advantages of employing full-time staff compared with contractors or casuals. As a business owner, the decision to employ full-time, part-time or casual staff can be a difficult one. When you hire full time employees they will usually have a long-term commitment to you and your business. This, however, is not always the case with casual employees or contractors. Because full-time employees will generally work thirty five or more hours a week, they will feel pride in their position, have a greater sense of job security and also feel the satisfaction of working for a business that they can call ‘home’. Most employees want to feel that they are an important part of a team and if they feel this they will generally ‘go the extra mile’.

With full time employees you don’t have to ‘wear all the hats’ in your business yourself. Instead you can delegate tasks permanently to others. They know you and how you like things done, and can do the work without the need for continual direction. This frees up your time to do the tasks best suited to you, and if you want to take a break from the business you can feel more confident that someone is looking after things in your absence. Full- time staff can also undertake a variety of different tasks, learn new skills and diversify their talents. Casual or part-time workers, on the other hand, may have less experience and be limited or unwilling in the types of tasks they perform. This flexibility in staff resourcing also means you don’t need to scramble to find help when your workload increases and are able to act quickly when opportunities arise or challenges take you in a different direction. If you only rely on independent contractors and need urgent help, your preferred contractor might be unavailable or it might cost you a lot more to hire one last-minute. And because part-time or casual staff may not be as committed to the job as a full-timer, absenteeism may be higher causing you even greater staffing headaches.

With full time employees it’s also easier to establish and maintain your business’s culture such as the way you conduct business, your attitudes, beliefs and values. Ultimately this reflects how people perceive your business and distinguishes your offering from others. But probably the biggest advantage of having full time employees is that the hourly wage is often much less because they have job security and are paid entitlements. If you were to hire a contractor to do the same work you would expect to pay quite a bit more.

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Employment options when hiring staff Wed, 04 May 2016 02:11:40 +0000 Correctly resourcing your business with employees is an important issue for all businesses. Having the right number of staff with the right employment status allows existing businesses to meet demand and growing businesses to take on more work. There are significant costs associated with employing staff, so getting the balance right between meeting customer demand and staff utilisation is vital. One of the most important aspects to consider when hiring staff is the different employment statuses that exist, and being aware of your responsibilities as an employer.

Staff can be employed under a number of categories. Some categories offer more flexibility for workers, while others provide more security for the business. Ideally, when looking to employ you would choose an employment structure for each staff member that suits both the business and the employee. There are four main employment statuses to choose from and each one comes with their own set of obligations for you and your staff: Permanent Full Time, Permanent Part Time, Casual and Temporary.

Full-Time Employees work 38 hours per week: which is 7.6 hours per day, 5 days a week. They are entitled to Annual Leave, Personal Leave, Public Holidays, Parental Leave, Long Service Leave, Superannuation Guarantee and a period of notice if their job is terminated.

Permanent Part-Time Employees work less than 38 hours per week but these are usually set hours and/or days. They are eligible to the same entitlements as permanent full-time employees (above), but just proportionally less based on time accrued in the job.

Casual Employee’s work hours may vary each week, depending on the work available, and are not guaranteed. They are paid for the hours worked and receive a loading (usually 25%) to compensate them for not receiving the same benefits as full or part time workers. Casuals can be entitled to penalty rates, loadings and allowances.

Temporary Employees are engaged for a specific period of time either a fixed term contract or to work on a particular project with an end date. Employees are also considered temporary if they are engaged via an agency or replace permanent employees who may have taken long service, parental or some other leave. Temporary employees are eligible for entitlements depending on whether they are employed on a full time, part time or casual basis.

It’s important to distinguish if your workers are employees or independent contractors. If they are employees, then their employment status and your obligations as an employer is one of the most important things to consider when deciding on how to manage your human resources. Contractors can also be deemed employees with regard to superannuation and workers’ compensation, so it’s important to understand the parameters. The ATO offers a handy resource to work this out.

For more specific information related to your industry and employees, please refer to your specific industry award or the Fairwork website.

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7 Marketing mistakes businesses make Wed, 20 Apr 2016 04:24:51 +0000 There aren’t any set rules when it comes to marketing. What’s best for you depends on your business and your target audience. Marketing can take many forms, from word-of-mouth referrals, to traditional advertising and pay-per-click campaigns. Actively marketing your business is crucial for its success, but it can be easy to make mistakes and waste money if your marketing activities lack a strategy. Here are some of the biggest mistakes I’ve found small businesses make

1. Not Having a Marketing Plan or doing no marketing at all
A marketing plan is a strategy document that outlines your business’s marketing tactics for the upcoming period. If you don’t have a marketing plan, it can be very tempting to simply do no marketing at all, especially if you’re already overworked and short on budget. It’s also easy to think that if you provide a good service or have a terrific product, then it’s just a matter of time before the word gets around and business will be ticking along nicely (having said that, it can also be a mistake to underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing). But the bottom line here is that without marketing, and a marketing plan, the engine that is your business has no fuel.

2. Not paying attention to details
How people perceive your business is based on what image you regularly project, and not reviewing your marketing materials is a big mistake. It’s important to always be checking for spelling and grammatical errors, technical imperfections or something that potentially could offend your target market. Errors in your marketing materials detract from the professionalism of your business, and send a negative message at a time when you want to make a great first impression. If you don’t care if you project the best possible image for your business, then what makes a potential client think you will deliver excellent service to them? All successful marketing efforts need to be consistent, accurate in their details and also regular, so it remains top of mind with your audience, but not so regularly that it becomes annoying. No matter the marketing medium you’ve chosen whether it’s print, web, video or whatever, always have another pair of eyes look at it before you publish or post, both online and off, because attention to detail matters.

3. Not tracking results
If you don’t monitor the results of your marketing activities, then you really don’t know what works. And if you don’t know what works, then there’s no way to learn if you make mistakes, or to even know if you’ve made a mistake in the first place. Accurately tracking the results of some traditional marketing activities such as newspaper ads or letter box drops can be difficult. But in today’s online world, whether it’s monitoring activity on your website with Google Analytics, or checking sales conversions through pay-per-click ads, precise data is at your fingertips. And if you aren’t closely analysing these results and adjusting your activities accordingly, you’re wasting your marketing budget. Once you know what’s working you can concentrate on those forms of marketing and stop spending time and money on the ones that aren’t.

4. Avoiding New Technology
Operating with outdated technology can cause long-term problems throughout your business and will ultimately impact on both productivity and profit. In small businesses, new technology can provide opportunities, help you work more efficiently and also save money. New technology, however, can be intimidating to some who may not be keen to embrace it and who don’t fully appreciate how it can benefit their business. But an unwillingness to adapt to it can potentially be a disaster for your business. Technology is constantly changing, there are new tools available all the time and if you don’t make the most of it it’s very easy to be left behind.

5. Not having a website
A fundamental marketing mistake we see quite often is not having a website. It’s surprising the number of small businesses that still don’t have a website twenty-five years after the introduction of the world-wide-web. Every business, regardless of size, needs to have a web presence. This is the first place anyone goes to search for products and services or research your organisation. Your website will often be the first impression they have of your business. This web presence must be technically up to date, simple to navigate and be desktop, mobile and tablet friendly. A well designed, informative and modern website can make a world of difference. It needn’t be complex, just a few pages is quite often all that you need. It should have some information about yourself, an outline of your business offering and contact details. It’s also very important that your logo, colour scheme and branding is consistent with all your other marketing material.

6. Ignoring Social Media
It’s important these days to embrace social media and not ignore it. Depending on the business you’re in, it’s becoming increasingly important to interact with, and to be active on, sites like Facebook and Linked In. If you’re not, you may run the risk of being left out of the loop on important business issues. But you shouldn’t spread yourself too thin. Many businesses would like to be active on every single social network but we usually don’t have the time and resources. Taking on too many social media platforms in an attempt to gain positive exposure and audience engagement can backfire. You need to be present and engage with your connections and if you aren’t, it can quickly have the opposite effect. Select those social networks that are the most appropriate to connecting with your target audience and be there one hundred percent.

7. Not knowing who you’re selling to
Finally, not understanding who your ideal customer is and trying to reach everyone is big mistake. It’s also not enough to create a marketing budget and try a little bit of everything. You need to do market research, identify who you are trying to reach, where you can find them, how best to deliver your message and how they will react to it. Often the least expensive thing such as attending a networking event, where you actually meet potential clients, can be the most successful, and some of the most expensive like placing a newspaper ad is actually the least effective. You also have to know what your competitors are up to, you mustn’t ignore them. You should try to monitor their marketing and learn from their successes and failures. Having said all this, you should also not be afraid to try new marketing activities if what you’re doing isn’t working.

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Some Simple Cash Flow Tips Wed, 16 Mar 2016 22:53:22 +0000 It is essential to make sure you always have enough cash available to keep your business operating. To do this you need to closely monitor cash ‘inflow’ and ‘outflow’, know how much you have on hand at all times, and how much you need on a day-to-day basis. Every business has peak times and quiet periods, and many are subject to seasonal impacts. Properly managing your cash flow means accounting for cash inflows and building up reserves for capital expenditure or to cover price increases from suppliers, payment delays, or other unexpected costs. It also means planning to cover your cash outflows and making sure you can pay your bills when they’re due in the less busy times.

Managing your income

We regularly generate Aged Debtor reports for our clients, and often see just how much outstanding there is in the 30-60 and 60-90+ days overdue columns. This managing of funds coming in can often be tricky and potentially cause difficult situations to arise with your valued clients. There may well be a very good reason why they haven’t paid, and you might need to offer them a bit more time, but in effect what you’re doing is making your payment terms meaningless and extending your client an open ended line of credit to fund the operations of their business.

  • Issuing invoices at the same time as you provide goods or services, rather than leaving it until the end of the month, and offering a discount to customers for paying early, will also help cash inflow.
  • Make it easy for customers to pay you quickly. Give them your account details or help them to pay by offering EFTPOS, BPAY or other simple online payment options.
  • It is important to be clear about how and when payments should be made. Specifying a pay-by date on your invoices, rather than just saying ‘Due within 30 days’ for example, is one way to help solve this problem.
  • Let debtors know how much extra time you’re willing to give and be clear on what your next steps will need to be if they don’t pay on time. But when chasing up payments, always be polite – getting angry or upset is not likely to get you paid any faster and could damage your reputation and client relationships. If you’re really having trouble, you could ask your bookkeeper to assist you with this – they will be experienced in this task. Only consider a letter of demand or speaking to a debt collection agency as a final resort.
  • You should also obtain a deposit from customers for more expensive items or large projects, plus encourage late payers by offering a discount for prompt payment or sticking to a payment plan.

Managing your spending

Managing your cash outflow is equally important.

  • By checking when you have to pay bills you can work out how to stagger your payments. Pay your bills on the due date, not weeks or months early, and make sure any loans you have suit your needs.
  • If you need equipment, find out if it’s more cost-effective to lease or purchase with a loan – and if you do purchase, spread the loan repayments out over the life span of the equipment, keeping your cash for day-to-day expenses.
  • Other things to consider are adjusting the amount you pay yourself at times when your cash situation is tight and looking at how you can better use the people you have, rather than employing more people.

Also, make sure you don’t have money tied up in excess stock and bank cash/cheque amounts as you receive them. This will also give you a better idea of your actual cash position. Your cash flow will be greatly improved by regular reviews, and it’s a really good idea to set up a routine of weekly reporting initially, perhaps changing to monthly later on. We recommend monthly being the least frequent schedule to work with – quarterly reporting will just let you know how long ago things went wrong!

Good cash flow management is vital, and hopefully you can implement some or all of these tips in your business.

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The Importance of Networking Thu, 10 Dec 2015 04:35:05 +0000 As business owners we are constantly bombarded with and are expected to respond to advertisements, emails, status updates and special offers. This has resulted in a cluttered, overwhelming flow of information and messaging. Networking is important because it’s different. It creates personal relationships enabling you and your business to stand out, rise above the noise and remain top of mind with those in your networking group. Business networking leads to word-of-mouth advertising which yields an excellent return on investment because it is generally inexpensive compared to other marketing.

Networking is about making connections and building enduring, mutually beneficial business relationships. But to be successful you must continually connect with new people, cultivate emerging relationships and leverage your network. Relationships are the catalyst for success because people do business with those they like and trust. 

Structured business networking groups such as the local chamber of commerce, BNI or charitable organisations provide great networking opportunities. But you can also network anywhere you have an interested audience: at sporting events, family gatherings or other social environments.

Remember that participating properly is important. At networking groups make sure everyone knows what you do and how they can help, or you can demonstrate how you can help them first. Ultimately, it’s not about who you know, but who knows you.

Stay tuned for our next blog about Tips for Successful Networking.

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7 Tips for Successful Networking Fri, 25 Sep 2015 04:03:28 +0000 In our last blog we talked about the importance of networking as a cost effective and valuable marketing technique. We’d like to now go a bit deeper into this topic and offer some tips on how to make networking events successful for you.

1. Get into a Networking mindset
Before you even start networking it’s a good idea to make sure you are in the right mindset. Networking is not the sort of thing that comes naturally to all people. If this is you, then you’ll need to step up, face your fear and approach it head on. With practice and in time it will become easier and the benefits will be worth it.

2. Present yourself well
It’s important to present yourself well to make a great first impression. At face-to-face events, dress well, practice and refine how you speak, make eye contact and generally present yourself to impress others with your professionalism.

3. Interact
It’s important to interact, not just impose yourself on others. If you view business networking simply as an opportunity to talk about yourself and your business, you’ll bore and irritate others. It’s better to carefully limit how much you talk, and increase the time you listen to and interact with others in the group.

4. Be Prepared with an ‘Elevator Pitch’
If business networking doesn’t come naturally to you then one of the best ways to ease anxiety is to prepare an “elevator pitch”. An elevator pitch is a short description of what you do and the value you offer to your clients. The goal is to be able to deliver this “pitch” (the length of an elevator ride) concisely and in a conversational way.

5. Be Selective
There may be many networking events to choose from. By going to all or too many events you run the risk of spreading yourself too thinly and failing to capitalise on any one opportunity. Identify and act on the highest value opportunities rather than pitching to every possible audience at every business networking event.

6. Help others
While your ultimate goal may be to gain new clients and improve your own business situation, you may also be in a position to help others. Offer whatever resources and help you can to others such as advice, contacts or leads in order to increase your value to the business network as a whole. This kind of selfless participation will, over time, eventually work to your advantage.

7. Have fun and relax
The best way to network is to be unaware of the fact that you are networking at all. Don’t get hung up on the fact that you are at a networking event and need to walk away each time with results. Some events will yield better results than others, and sometimes the results won’t be immediately obvious. Try and lose yourself in the moment, relax and enjoy yourself. It will be more fun and ultimately this approach should be more successful for you.

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Home Based Business – Pros and Cons Fri, 06 Dec 2013 01:47:09 +0000 Many of my clients run home based businesses, but working from home isn’t for everyone. There are definitely pros and cons. But if you can make it work for you, it is a great way to find a workplace with flexibility and an understanding boss.

There are a variety of reasons why people may decide to run a business from home. These include: retrenchment, lifestyle choices – you can pick the kids up from school, and as mentioned, greater flexibility. Working from home can offer a great solution for start-ups or businesses looking to cut costs on the rent and utilities of an office space.

If you are looking to maximise potential, then a home-based business can be appropriate for you. People enjoy freedom, but this independence comes with a price. If you’re interested in self-employment but are uncertain about whether it’s right for you, assess the pros and cons of starting up a home-based business.

The Pros

You are your own boss
One of the most attractive aspects for many people is that of being your own boss. There is no one to answer to, and you can run things the way you think they should be run. That makes the accountability of running a successful business entirely your own. You need to be disciplined and well organised to work at home.

Reduced expenses
Another benefit of working at home is having fewer costs associated with eating out and travelling to and from a work place. You’ll probably save on clothing expenses too. By working at home, you will save on overhead costs. Also, you don’t have to pay rent as well as other expenses that come with an outside office space.

It’s easy and inexpensive to start up
Anyone can start their own business from home. Expenses are at a minimum and starting from home is a great way to test the waters with minimal outlay. All you may need is a desk, smart phone, computer and your tools of the trade.

The cons:

There is no set income
As with all situations where you ‘work for yourself’, there is a potential for greater earnings, it is also likely that you’ll have some periods where the jobs could dry up. In such cases, where you don’t have a partner’s income to fall back on, having an emergency savings account might be a great relief during periods when you are not making income. I recommend putting some earnings aside when times are good to cover yourself when times are slow.

One of the most common complaints I hear is that you may miss the interaction with people at work. Many of us are social by nature, so think about how you are going to get your ‘people’ fix now you don’t have the office photo copier to hang around.

Working from home might be a distraction, particularly if you have small kids or have a hard time overlooking home-related jobs. Many people I know with home-based businesses are busy parents. Setting up a distraction free room to work and allocating a certain amount of time each day just to focus on your job will help increase productivity.

You have to find your own clients
This is not just for home-based businesses. Getting new clients is going to be an uphill task if prospecting doesn’t come naturally to you.

This is essential for any business owner and can be viewed as a pro or a con depending on your attitude. Becoming a successful business owner requires an investment in personal and professional development because most of us don’t start off with those core business skills.

Working from home may not be for everyone, but there are certainly many benefits to being your own boss at home. And, it is widely accepted now. Many of my clients use their local cafes as meeting rooms and as they grow, may see the need for something more permanent, or not. The ATO has a great resource for people thinking about starting their own home-based business. It includes the tax implications and financial rules of running a home based business.

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How’s the Communication with your Bookkeeper? Tue, 10 Sep 2013 13:09:12 +0000 You’ve made a decision to hire a bookkeeper. Well done, smart move. Now, here are some things to consider, because the more your bookkeeper understands about your business and the better the lines of communication are, the better your working relationship will be.

Tell your bookkeeper why you got into business in the first place. Discuss your vision for its future such as how much money you want to make and your plans to introduce new products or services. Tell them about your current offering, what you feel separates you from your competitors and what areas you think could improve. Your bookkeeper will also need to know how you’ve dealt with your accounts in the past. Consider how you’ve previously tracked money and handled your personal expenses. What accounting software have you used? Does dealing with money overwhelm you or are you good at it? Are you a details person, or do you just want to know the bottom line? All this information is very helpful for a bookkeeper to know.

The next thing to do is to tell your bookkeeper how you want your financial information explained to you. Let’s assume it’s time to review your profit and loss for the quarter. Do you want your bookkeeper to come to your office and talk to you about how your business is doing, or you come to them or just call? Do you want the report emailed to you as an excel spreadsheet or PDF? Do you want to access it yourself from your online accounting software? Are you interested in all of the numbers or just the bottom line? Basically, you need to tell your bookkeeper how much information you want and how you want to communicate with them. It’s important to build a good working relationship with clear, regular communication rather than just exchanging the occasional email.

Your bookkeeper will also need access to your financial information such as your bank account and credit card statements. Most online accounting software packages have real-time bank feed functions which are very convenient and secure, but are you happy to give your bookkeeper online access or will you send duplicate statements? Most bookkeepers would prefer instant online access to your financials and to also get copies of your paid receipts and bills. It’s also very important to remember that just because you’ve hired a bookkeeper you don’t stop looking at your credit card statements to make sure nothing unusual is going on. So how will you allow your bookkeeper access to this? Software packages and smart phone apps allow you to attach an electronic copy of a receipt or invoice. You could also mail, email, drop them off or the bookkeeper can come to your office to pick them up.

Your bookkeeper can perform other duties such as pay bills and deposit cheques, but if they do this you should get them to email you the details on a weekly basis so you know what’s going on. Another good thing to do is introduce your bookkeeper to your accountant. This way they can better serve you by communicating with each other, but make sure that your accountant can work with the software that your bookkeeper uses. Also have your bookkeeper teach you how to run a few simple reports such as your profit/loss. It’s always good to know how your business is doing from a revenue, expense, and profit perspective.

Hiring a bookkeeper is very affordable, even for a small business. Still, the only way for a bookkeeper to give you an accurate estimate is to understand what services you need. Price depends on how many hours work you need each month, how often your books need updating and the bookkeeper’s experience. If you’re open about your budget, you’re more likely to get the result you’re after. Most bookkeepers understand that some people have trouble letting go. It’s reasonable to feel anxious about handing over your financial records to a stranger, as reputable as they may be, but once your bookkeeper has proven themselves, you’ll be able to relax a bit more. But probably the most important thing to remember is that the better you can communicate with your bookkeeper, the better your working relationship will be.

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