What Is a Small Business Bookkeeper? (Duties and Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 22, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Businesses document their transactions in books of accounts, including sales income, tax payment, interest, wages, and other operating expenditures. Bookkeeping is an essential aspect of accounting, and this role is best for people who have accounting skills, preferably having an accounting degree. Understanding what a small business bookkeeper does can help you to know the qualifications and skills you require for the job. In this article, we discuss what a business bookkeeper is, explore their duties, highlight the skills the role requires, provide tips for selecting the tools they use, and outline how to become one.

What is a small business bookkeeper?

A small business bookkeeper is an employee that manages and balances financial records and archives for businesses and companies. They're in charge of ensuring that they curate and audit the financial statement of the company. The job involves recording transactions like expenses, invoices, payments, tax payments, wages, and sales revenue. A bookkeeper usually makes use of general ledgers for making the balance sheet and statement of revenue. Bookkeeping is vital to a company's finances because it helps track the company's running cost, calculate the business's net income, and calculate employees' wages.

Related: The Differences Between a Bookkeeper and an Accountant: A Review

Duties of a bookkeeper

Every business has to keep track of its spending, and an effective best way to do this is through a bookkeeper. Here's an overview of some of the duties of a bookkeeper:

Data entry

Bookkeepers are primarily responsible for keeping records of a company's financial transactions. Depending on the nature of the organization, they may enter data into detailed financial books or accounting software. The bookkeeper is responsible for maintaining a high level of accuracy, as financial records are sensitive documents. Entering data consistently and accurately helps businesses monitor the effectiveness of business operations. Companies can leverage this information to plan feature projects or improve existing processes.

Tracking expenses

A bookkeeper is responsible for monitoring a business's expenses and keeping accurate records. They ensure the cash flowing out of a company aligns with other financial documents, like receipts and purchase orders. This confirms that a business receives value for its expenditure. Bookkeepers monitor all expenses, including credit cards or petty cash purchases. In addition to validating all expenses, bookkeepers can also track who's spending a business's money and ensure they aren't overspending.

Managing invoices and receipts

Bookkeepers are responsible for handling and resolving invoices and receipts. They help businesses send invoices to relevant customers and monitor them to ensure payment. Similarly, they also ensure that companies pay all debts by managing receipts. This duty is essential for all businesses, especially small businesses, as failing to resolve invoices and receipts can cause inaccurate financial analysis.

Processing payrolls

One of the significant sources of expenditure for most companies is paying employees. Managing payroll can be a strenuous task, as it usually involves calculating several variables, including time at work, commissions, bonuses, and taxes. Additionally, it's essential companies keep updated records of employee payment information. A bookkeeper can handle this task by processing weekly, biweekly, or monthly employee payments. Allowing a specialist to manage this process promotes efficiency while reducing errors.

Legal compliance

With the right qualifications, a bookkeeper can help businesses ensure all their financial records and transitions abide by relevant regulations. Additionally, bookkeepers can help businesses file their taxes and prepare relevant reports. They can also assist with filing relevant bank documents for obtaining loans and other financial transactions.

Creating reports

Bookkeepers prepare various financial documents, including budgets, balance sheets, and profit-and-loss statements. These documents are essential for businesses to understand their financial performance. In addition, bookkeepers can analyze them and propose tactics to improve business performance.

Essential skills for bookkeepers

Here are some skills you require as a bookkeeper:

Organization

A bookkeeper performs better when they have good prioritizing and planning skills. This helps the bookkeeper organize financial records in a system that's easy to comprehend and use. For example, bookkeepers can classify the different financial documents they handle in categories like tax records, invoices, and wages.

Integrity

The bookkeeper is responsible for identifying inconsistencies in the company's finances. Integrity ensures that the bookkeeper doesn't overlook any signs of fraud or partake in it. Bookkeepers with integrity also ensure that businesses are compliant with all relevant laws and can pass audit screenings.

Mathematical or arithmetic skills

Bookkeepers handle a lot of numbers when managing company records. Due to the statistical nature of the job, a good bookkeeper requires good mathematical skills. You can improve your mathematical skills through consistent practice or by taking math classes.

Technical skills

There are specific tools that the bookkeepers use to manage a company's financial records. Bookkeepers can fully enjoy the features of these tools when they have technical skills to aid them. You can develop your technical skills through professional training and online courses.

Related: How to Become a Bookkeeper With Examples of Important Technical, Hard, and Soft Skills

Communication skills

Bookkeepers often make presentations on their findings and the company's financial situation. As a result, bookkeepers require excellent communication skills to explain complex financial terms to non-finance company executives and relevant stakeholders. They also require excellent presentation skills, including public speaking and the use of visualization tools.

Attention to detail

When bookkeepers are attentive to details, they make fewer mistakes and identify errors better. This skill can help discover hidden information in financial documents that can reveal fraud or severe errors in financial records. You can develop attention to detail by being patient and thorough with your work. Generally, it's an attribute that develops over time.

Spreadsheets

Spreadsheet software is a program that people use to input and manage data. This type of software is essential for preparing, manipulating, and analyzing financial data. For example, bookkeepers with spreadsheet skills can conduct complex financial analyses and present data in easily understandable formats.

Tips for selecting good bookkeeping tools

There are specific tools that bookkeepers use in managing the financial records of businesses, and the following tips can help in choosing relevant tools:

Time tracking

A good bookkeeping tool can have a time tracking features to help set up and track company finances, especially when a business bills per hour. This feature helps measure and determine which customers and parts of the company expenditure are profitable. Some software features inbuilt time tracking features that both the business and clients can use.

Tracking your expenses

It's crucial to select a bookkeeping tool that can easily track business purchases and other expenses. Many types of bookkeeping software allow you to record invoices, transaction statements, and receipts by recording their images. This can aid in balancing financial documents or resolving legal issues. It also allows businesses to track who's spending what, which can be helpful for budgeting.

Related: What Is a Balance Sheet? FAQs, Components, and an Example

Processing of payment

A smooth payment process can help keep a business running smoothly. A good bookkeeping tool can have a comprehensive payment system that customers can use quickly. It's essential the tool has a system that's familiar to customers to reduce pressure on finance staff.

Budgeting suitable

Every business needs budgeting to plan for the businesses' expenses over some time. As a result, it's crucial to select a bookkeeping tool that you can use to draft a budget, review it, and adjust it as you manage a business. Many bookkeeping tools have inbuilt spreadsheets that are compatible with major spreadsheet programs.

Payroll functions

A good bookkeeping tool can have features that help with executing payroll orders. This means retaining employee data and integrating it with the payroll system. Automating your payroll processing prevents errors or delays with employee payment.

File sharing features

It's vital that a bookkeeping tool can integrate with filesharing software. This makes it easier to share financial documents with other employees in the company. Sharing relevant financial documents with several departments and employees allows greater synergy in business operations.

How to become a bookkeeper

Here's an overview of how to become a bookkeeper:

1. Get a degree

To become a bookkeeper, it's essential you obtain a degree or diploma in accounting. You can pay attention to subjects like accounting and mathematics in high school to aid your numerical skills. While studying for your degree, ensure you pursue internships to gain relevant experience.

2. Consider obtaining certifications

This involves pursuing further formal learning on bookkeeping by taking certificate programs and tutorials. You can do this through colleges and online learning platforms. Some of the relevant certifications include AAT Level 2 Foundation Certificate in Bookkeeping and Certified Professional Bookkeeper. Certifications signify skill and exposure to potential employers.

3. Prepare your resume

A resume is a formal document that summarizes your professional skills and competencies. You can prepare a resume by summarising your relevant education, work experience, and skills. Most employers require resumes to be a page long. You can also include keywords and make your achievements measurable to create a memorable resume.

Related: Bookkeeper Resume Sample and Top 10 Tips for Writing Yours

4. Apply for bookkeeping roles

After obtaining relevant skills and preparing your resume, you can apply for a bookkeeping role. You can find jobs by searching job sites or informing professional and financial contacts that you're looking for a job. Ensure you prepare for your interview and other employment assessment procedures.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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