DIY bookkeeping is meant to save a small business owner time and money as their business grows, but what our clients tell us is a different story.

We’ve had business owners share their top 7 frustrations with either doing their own bookkeeping or outsourcing their bookkeeping. This article covers these frustrations, together with our suggestions on how to handle them.

Frustration #1: Time

“I’m wasting 2 hours per week on bookkeeping”

Have you ever watched celebrity chef Jamie Oliver prepare one of his ’15 minute” meals? He makes it look so easy, and it only takes him 15 minutes because he’s an expert, but have you tried making those meals yourself? I know I have, and they take me about an hour to prepare!

The same goes for bookkeeping. Doing your own bookkeeping takes time. If you aren’t a professional bookkeeper, then chances are you are probably fairly slow, and it’s going to take you a whole lot of time to do it.

There's only one resource that you can't afford to replace - your time. Click To Tweet

Let’s assume that you hired somebody to take over your bookkeeping… what would you do with that extra time that you’ve just freed up anyway?

Would you do things you enjoy with loved ones, or could you do other activities that you’re great at that contribute towards growing your business?

Ninja tip: Hire an expert bookkeeper and save yourself a whole bunch of time and headaches.

Frustration #2: Accuracy

“We made a bad business decision due to errors in our financial reports”

Do you worry about whether you’re doing the bookkeeping correctly? Are you paying the right amount of tax?

If you have to make business decisions like how much to invest in marketing over the next 6 months, then you need accurate information to make those decisions.

Poor bookkeeping resulting in errors, can mean bad business decisions.

How much is poor bookkeeping costing you and your business? Click To Tweet

Ninja tip: Avoid bad decisions and make sure your numbers are accurate. Hire an expert to review what you’ve done. This will help you stay out of trouble with the tax office too.

Frustration #3: Price

“It’s too expensive”

People used to complain about taxis being an expensive mode of transport, and then along came Uber.

There is a better, more efficient way of doing your bookkeeping, but unfortunately, a lot of bookkeepers are set in their more traditional ways and aren’t familiar with tools like Zapier and Trello, which can automate their internal processes.

Ninja tip: Ask your bookkeeper if they are using automation tools to speed up their internal processes (which saves you money).

Frustration #4: Unresponsive

“They take 2 weeks to respond to my questions ….”

Most bookkeepers are one-man bands; however, there are some bookkeeping companies with a team of employees.

The one-man band juggling everything involved in running a sole trader business and a client base, which can make them slow to respond.

Larger bookkeeping firms can have difficulties motivating their employees to provide the same level of service as the business owner, who is more passionate about their own business (and should be).

Both of these situations can result in slow response times.

Ninja Tip: Check with your bookkeeper what you can expect in terms of response times.

Here at Bean Ninjas, we’ve implemented a combination of automated tools and systems, hiring motivated and trained staff in different time zones, and a positive customer-first culture in order to deliver speedy responses to our clients.

Frustration #5: Extra Charges

“My accountant charged me extra to fix the bookkeeper’s mistakes”

Before an accountant can lodge a tax return, the bookkeeping needs to be accurate. Unfortunately, a lot of bookkeeping that gets sent to accountants needs to be re-worked.

Accountants are far more expensive than bookkeepers. Click To Tweet

The business gets stung with extra fees, and the accountant often can’t charge for all of the additional work, so they’re not happy either.

Ninja Tip: Using a good bookkeeper can avoid these costly mistakes.

Frustration #6: Lack of current information

“I don’t get our March figures until May”

Bookkeepers want to spread their workload out across the month, and businesses want their work completed as soon as possible. The two instances seem at odds.

We know how important it is for business owners to have current financial information. That is why we process transactions weekly for our larger clients and then focus on our small clients in the first week of the month.

Ninja tip: Clarify expectations around when you get access to your important financial information and determine whether or not your bookkeeper’s turnaround time serves your needs.

Frustration #7: Bookkeepers who don’t understand online businesses

“My bookkeeper has never heard of tools like Stripe or Shopify and isn’t familiar with bookkeeping for e-commerce stores or handling PayPal accounts in multiple currencies”

The tools we use to do business are rapidly changing. Some bookkeepers are working hard to stay up to date with the latest technology, and some are falling behind.

If your bookkeeper is not staying up to date with technology trends, then they are falling behind. Click To Tweet

Ninja Tip: If you are looking to outsource your bookkeeping and intend to use tools like Stripe, Shopify, or other Xero add-ons, make sure to ask your bookkeeper about their previous experience with these tools.

Our Wish: Better Bookkeeping for All

Please understand that this post is not a criticism of the bookkeeping or accounting industries. These are frustrations expressed by actual business owners, and the intent of this article is to:

  • Inform business owners of what to be aware of so that they can make the best choices for their own business when it comes to their bookkeeping;
  • Encourage any bookkeepers or accountants who are not regularly looking at how to improve their business to do so. That way, we can work together on improving our industry as a whole, and bookkeepers can be confident that they’re delivering a high-quality service that their clients will appreciate and value for many years to come.

Basics of Bookkeeping for Small Business

Yes. Bookkeeping tasks for small business owners can definitely prove to be frustrating and challenging. However, before going further down that well of annoyance, you need to gain a good understanding of the basics of bookkeeping for small business in hopes of alleviating some of the frustration.

The following are a few bookkeeping basics you really can’t ignore as a small business owner:

Accounts Receivable. When you sell products or services, and you don’t collect the money right away, then that account falls under accounts receivable. This means that there is still money due from the client for the products and services rendered. It is imperative that you track your accounts receivable and keep everything up to date, so everything is accounted for.

Accounts Payable. With accurate and concise small business accounting, you will have a clear understanding of timely bill payments. This is also a way to avoid overpaying or paying twice on something already paid. Staying on top of everything and making early payments may even result in certain discounts for your business.

Inventory. When you have products sitting on the shelf, that is like having money sitting on your shelves. All of your inventory needs to be tracked, managed, and accounted for. Inventory management means taking a physical count of all the inventory you have on hand.

Payroll Expenses. Even for a small business, the payroll expenses can easily prove to be the most significant expense. That is why it is so important to keep all your records and financial statements up to date and as accurate as possible while also meeting tax and government reporting requirements.

Overcoming Bookkeeping Frustrations

When you take the time to understand the basics, and you come up with better small business bookkeeping strategies, you will find that it is easier to save money, capture all your expenses, not miss any write-offs, and you can make better management decisions throughout the year.

You will have far less stress and frustration when you know that your books are being well taken care of, and everything is up to date and as accurate as possible. All of this proactive planning and action will also make it much easier when tax time rolls around, and frustration and stress levels are typically at their highest.

We hope this has been a useful article. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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Meryl Johnston

Co-founder at Bean Ninjas
Meryl is a Chartered Accountant, entrepreneur and surfer!

Prior to Bean Ninjas she ran a cloud accounting consulting firm, worked in both commercial accounting roles, as an auditor (BDO), and as a lecturer in accounting and audit.
Meryl Johnston
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