03 Mar Bookkeepers: Rigid Bean Counters or Allies in Compliance?
Bookkeepers As Partners, Not Opponents
We, bookkeepers and accountants, may get a bad rap. We are often characterized as rigid beancounters who suck the fun out of entrepreneurship. Bookkeepers must straddle the worlds of inflexible compliance and chaotic entrepreneurial spirit.
The “advisor” variety of bookkeeper has the job of nurturing the entrepreneur’s idea, and coincidentally the spirit of entrepreneurship itself. Bookkeepers must do this while also guiding along a perilous journey. Lack of cash flow, payroll rules and fines, audits, and lawsuits lurk in the margins waiting to bring down even your best ideas.
Bookkeepers: What They Should Not Be
If I, as the bookkeeper, have too much control and am too overbearing I stifle the wonder of the entrepreneur. The bookkeeper should not control the purse strings or be the decision maker. Advisor yes, CEO no. If the bookkeeper and process get in the way of the mission and vision it’s time for us to change up the process. It is possible to be compliant and flexible, it just takes work.
If the bookkeeping lacks a consistency and doesn’t meet basic standards that is also a problem. Inconsistency in systems causes compliance failures. This opens your business up to the headache of outside interference either from the government or other outside interests such as insurance companies. Audits, for example, can pull time and financial resources from all aspects of your small business. Not to mention they draw vast amounts of mental energy. Furthermore, such hassles inhibit growth and stifle your entrepreneurship with red tape, cash flow concerns, and general headaches.
The Bookkeepers’ Balanced Relationship
The balance of process rigidity and an eye to the growth of the venture is key. The “advisory” bookkeeper’s role should be developed in such a way that they have the ability to keep the enterprise compliant. In turn, they also should be able to provide input, but not overreach to the point of stifling the spirit.
A relationship between the entrepreneur and bookkeeper should be a conversation. Input is given and discussion happens. Ultimately the entrepreneur must make the calls and executes the vision. The relationship should also be respectful of the unyielding parameters in which the business operates, like the tax laws for example. If and when decisions are made that are contrary to the rules this should be done because it is necessary. Laziness or simple disregard for the parameters will not yield the best outcomes. One must fully understand the rules and constraints to successfully challenge them. Uber didn’t go into the rideshare business without first learning every letter of the taxi and car-for-hire laws. A great advisor will understand ALL of the rules then help you decide when and where to challenge them. A great entrepreneur will find an ally and advisor in a great bookkeeper.