If you are reading this, then you probably know the day-to-day responsibilities of running a small-to-medium business (SMB) can be overwhelming. As a small business owner, CPA, or tax preparer, you wear many different hats, but is a bookkeeper one?
Customer Relationship Manager, Salesperson, Accounts Payable and Receiving, Customer Support, Bookkeeper… wait, Bookkeeper? You serve probably every role for your business in some fashion, but a bookkeeper? It may be a surprise, but many small business or SMB owners do not realize that they are the bookkeeper for their business.
What is Bookkeeping?
A typical bookkeeper job description would read as someone who records, maintains, or reconciles financial transactions. This means if you log or manage expenses, incomes, or accounts, you’re a bookkeeper.
“Wait, if I have a shoe box of receipts and update a spreadsheet every month, you’re telling me I’m a bookkeeper?”
Yep, that’s what we’re telling you. As a small business or SMB owner, you’re likely a de facto bookkeeper since you likely know your books and accounts, or at least have a hand in their operation. Even those in direct sales serve as bookkeepers by entering sales, managing cash flow, and tracking expenses every day.
While it may be difficult to see yourself as a bookkeeper, it is a fundamental role for a business owner – even if you have someone else performing the role daily. What’s important is not to get bookkeeping confused with accounting. While the terms are often considered loosely interchangeable, there are differences between the two. However, both roles work hand-in-hand to manage finances.
Bookkeeper vs. Accountant
So if there’s a difference, what is it? Well, the definition of both isn’t crystal clear. Some say the difference between is a bookkeeper and an accountant is their primary focus. Bookkeepers typically log or reconcile transactions, and prepare basic financial statements, while an accountant’s focus is directed at ensuring accounts balance (double entry bookkeeping or accounting), tax-related issues are satisfied, and often create and manage more detailed financial reports.
Okay, What Now?
If you don't have a bookkeeper on staff, the next and most important step is to create an actionable plan to own your new position. Developing a workflow or checklist to help manage daily basic bookkeeping tasks, weekly or monthly reports you may need, or financial forecasts can save both time and headache later. If you’re worried or need help finding examples or assistance, here’s the good news: there are numerous resources, tips, and tools to help you succeed as a small business bookkeeper.
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