By Tana Allers
What is the scope of your bookkeeping work?
We work mainly with small to medium enterprises in the Cornwall-Akwesasne-SDG area, however, we now serve clients right across Canada. We try to make the client's life easier by helping them manage the data side of their business.
What is the most common question small business owners ask you?
It usually has to do with the GST rate. when do I charge it? The answer is usually if you have under $30,000 of sales no you do not need to charge HST and GST however it can be beneficial to charge HST because it helps you look more professional to those that you are billing. Another way that it can be beneficial is that you can claim the GST HST on your taxes.
Can every small business benefit from a bookkeeper?
That depends on the size of your business and what you need to do. If it is a matter of just recording receipts, that is not enough value. It is beneficial when you are spending a few hours a month doing your bookkeeping, and perhaps it is no longer worth it to you timewise.
If you are a business that is just growing, do it yourself. you can develop a better understanding of your finances and develop an appreciation for the process. The best time to hire a bookkeeper is when you need to know: Is your business profitable? Do you want or need to know on a weekly or monthly basis? That is when it is time to invest in a bookkeeper.
How does one make sure their bookkeeper is the right one for them?
Can you get a hold of them? The biggest thing is communication. We want to be a part of your team and grow with you. Does your bookkeeper understand your business? Another thing is that bookkeepers need to evolve with the times and keep up with modern methods.
How do bookkeepers become qualified to do bookkeeping?
There is no real qualifier to become a bookkeeper, but most bookkeepers have at least some college, and at least a few years of experience. They also must be knowledgeable in various accounting systems.
What information or documents should a small business owner provide to their bookkeeper?
If you have an existing accounting system in place, you are going to want to bring in those files. You will also want to bring in your last tax return, and whatever else is available for that year, bring everything in. You can send the files electronically, on USB, or bring physical copies. When we are moving a system from manual accounting over to digital, we can fully digitize all the files within a week. We run a paperless system.
What kind of systems of bookkeeping are better for small businesses?
I cannot recommend QuickBooks Online enough. There are free online resources and YouTube videos, and it is very agile. There is a free mileage tracker, and you can even take pictures of receipts to record them. You might have to pay a small monthly fee for the service, but it can be more than worth having to pay somebody to do this stuff for you. Most accountants and bookkeepers first learn on a system called Sage, but Sage is not as agile as QuickBooks. Being able to access it through an app wherever you are, for example, can be very useful.
What is the difference between an Accountant and a Bookkeeper?
Anyone can be a bookkeeper, but an accountant is designated, such as a chartered practical accountant. Accountants must pass exams to be certified.
Let us put it this way: A bookkeeper enters the data, and an accountant analyzes the data.
How can a bookkeeper help a business stay focused on its goals?
Bookkeepers can provide detailed quarterly analysis and meetings with the client to set up goals. It helps to keep you accountable. We can provide a deeper analysis of your business data so that you know where your business is at any point in time, financially. We have an ethical responsibility to support our clients.
What happens if I do my books, but I have messed them up and now I bring them to you?
We offer you support- it does not matter how messy it is, we are a judgment-free zone, we will not judge you. Trying it yourself and failing is better than someone who just gives up. We can help to teach you to do it better on your own, or we can do it for you, but the bottom line is we try to give good energy in a stressful time for our clients. When our clients are happy with the results, we are happy.
What methods of payment are available?
We offer payment through E-transfer, debit, credit, cash, as well as a pre-authorized debit agreement also known as PLOOTO. All our services are provided in one bill and there are no surprises.
Does your firm offer any other services for its clients beyond bookkeeping?
We are a one-stop shop that can do A-Z for you. We do data analysis, payroll, taxes, and much more. We can do consulting, where we will take on the role of what would be equivalent to a CFO (Chief Financial Officer) in your company, giving you the best financial information to support your decisions for your business. We offer budgeting, tax planning, webinars, training, forecasting, tax planning, software training, implementations, corporate taxes, migrations from one system to another.
How do bookkeepers protect the sensitive data of their clients?
We use ShareFile, which is an encrypted, secure portal that is housed on Canadian servers. Never, ever send sensitive information through email. If it is something sensitive, you should use a secured, encrypted platform. Sensitive things that you should never send through email include your SIN number, any account information, or any other information that you would not want to fall into the wrong hands.
Is there any other expert advice that you can give to the new entrepreneur just starting?
It is OK to fail, it is part of the process. Just make something positive out of the fail, learn from it.
When you are managing your first staff member, no one has a manual on that. How you treat them is everything because you rely on their support. Just remember that things will get better as you move forward and keep being positive. Surround yourself with people that support you, be that people in the community, or other people in your life that you have relationships. Relationships are so important.