What is a Bookkeeper?
Many times when working with small businesses, I wish the owner would ask, “What is a bookkeeper?” The answer might really surprise many small business owners. The typical business from the 1950’s through the 1980’s blended many duties into the role of bookkeeper. Sometimes they would call them the office manager or use some other title, but the mission was the same.
So, on a really basic level, what is a bookkeeper? In business, we need someone who will be our ‘Finisher.’ The finisher is the person who gets out the invoicing, enters the vendor bills, processes the payroll, and accounts for the banking transactions of the business. A bookkeeper is responsible for the day to day financial transactions of a business. In larger businesses, these duties may be spread among a number of bookkeepers. However, in small businesses, quite often the bookkeeping role is only one of a few duties that might include answering the phone, covering sales duties, managing human resources, being the administrative assistant to the owner, and so forth and so on or in other words, a jack of all trades.
Why does it matter that we answer the question, “what is a bookkeeper?” The answer is actually very simple. Bookkeeping is a highly specialized task. In the time before computers, it was an important duty that was done manually and was very labor intensive. Many small businesses now think that if someone can open Quickbooks, they should be the bookkeeper. The fact is that the skills required 50 years ago are still required, with the additional need to understand computer software as well. It is very important for the financial success of a small business that the owner separate these bookkeeping duties from administrative tasks.
So what is a bookkeeper? A bookkeeper is the person that will create the system of accounting that will help you use financial data to run your business. They are the recorder of your financial transactions of the daily operations of your business. A bookkeeper needs to be knowledgeable about bookkeeping, not coffee making. If you don’t have a good bookkeeper, you don’t know how much fun running a business can be.