Should I employ a Bookkeeper or hire a Freelance Bookkeeper?

Setting aside time to do your accounts whilst running your own business can be tricky. When first starting out you may be inclined to take on the duties yourself in order to save money. Of course this is fine in the short term, but once you start to get busy, you will find it even harder to make the time to keep on top of your books.

How can a Bookkeeper help you?

A Bookkeeper can help you do these things and much more:

  • Obtain all invoices and receipts
  • Pay suppliers
  • Collate financial data
  • Administer Payroll
  • Prepare your VAT return

Hiring a bookkeeper can save you time and money in the long run. Once you’ve decided that you need support with your bookkeeping, you have the option of employing a bookkeeper or hiring a freelance one. But which is best for you and your business?

Employing a Bookkeeper

Some people are of the impression only medium to large sized businesses should employ a bookkeeper, but it’s very common for micro and small businesses to employ an administrator who does both admin and accounts work. As with any employee you will need to pay them a salary and their National Insurance Contributions, Tax and Pension contributions and of course invest in the relevant I.T., resources and software.

The bonus of employing a bookkeeper is that when they apply for the job you can review their C.V. and check out any references and qualifications before hiring them. 

An employed bookkeeper will become part of your team and learn the ways in which your business works which is a great advantage. They will be aware of the everyday processes and procedures of the business. Forming a close relationship with your bookkeeper means that there is no short fall in communication and when they are on site with you, issues can get resolved instantly without delay.

You will be in charge of your own deadlines and can ensure that your bookkeeper is on track to meet them, if they come across any obstacles you are there to support them. 

By employing your bookkeeper the software you use is your choice and you can choose your bookkeeper on relevance of experience using your current software.

Hiring a Freelance Bookkeeper

When hiring a freelance bookkeeper they will either charge per hour, or will give you a one-off price per month/annum in order to do your books. Providing you are upfront with all your business needs there will be no surprises.

Be sure to ask to see evidence of their qualifications and bookkeeping license. Ensure they are up-to-date with regulations, such as Money Laundering Regulations for example and have the relevant insurance. It’s also wise to ask if they have a COPE (Continuity Of Practice Engagement) – this is a document which is put into place between two bookkeepers to ensure the continuity of your bookkeeping services in the event of your bookkeeper becoming ill, incapactitated or their death. We know that this seems like a grim thing to ask about, but it ensures that someone else is aware of process and procedures and can quickly pick up where your bookkeeper left off if the worst happens.

As the freelancer is running their own business, they will ensure that the job is done thoroughly. They will have books to do for various clients and therefore will be organised and efficient with their time management, setting deadlines for you to have paperwork to them in order to ensure nothing is left until the last minute. As they specialise in this area of expertise they will have a wealth of knowledge and understanding when it comes to systems and software and will always be on the lookout to make their processes more streamlined. 

You should decide if you are happy to have a freelance bookkeeper that will be virtual and may not visit your premises or one that you would prefer comes onsite. Either way, it is vital that you build a good relationship with them as communication is key to your relationship. The better you communicate with them, the more efficient your bookkeeping will be. 

There are advantages to employing and outsourcing your bookkeeper. It all boils down to what is right for you and your business. 

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