The Canada Revenue Agency publishes a pamphlet called Keeping Records-RC4409 that provides a detailed definition of the records you need to keep and why you need to keep them.
To start with, keeping records is a legal requirement. You may want to keep records because you may save on taxes if your records are organized. You will need to keep records in case of an audit of GST/HST, payroll or taxes.
You may want to keep records to keep yourself informed of the financial position of your business. You will need to keep records if you expect to obtain any sort of bank or creditor financing. You will need to keep records to identify your sources of income to determine if those sources are non-business or non-taxable.
Many business owners hire a bookkeeper or record keeper to keep records for them. The fall seems to be the time when business owners begin to look for a bookkeeper to help them get ready for their year end.
The bookkeeper will be responsible for recording transactions that in summary, will indicate the health of your small business and the amount of tax that you may or may not have to pay will depend on your bottom line net income.
However, you as the business owner still have the responsibility of making decisions for your business. You can’t blindly run a business, without periodically reviewing the paperwork. You need to stay informed so that you can work in partnership with the professionals that you hire.
So how do you find a bookkeeper who would be qualified and capable? An excellent indicator is to ask your friends and relatives who have small businesses and find out who they use and if this person would be able to take on another client.
Another source would be to ask your accountant if they can recommend someone. Most accounting firms have several bookkeepers that they work with and sometimes take on the bookkeeping in-house.
Finally, you can advertise for a bookkeeper.
Regardless of the source, you need to interview the bookkeeper to determine if they would be a good fit for you, if they are qualified to do the job.
Determine if they have any experience keeping the books for your particular kind of business. If they do, then that means there is less training and educating that you need to do to teach the bookkeeper about your industry.
You would want to make sure that the software program is set up correctly, so you would want them to understand the basic differences between the basic business structures and about the benefits/pitfalls of the different software programs in use.
If you have any sales on account or purchase on credit, you would want them to know what a control account is and what a subledger is.
If you are inventorying product, you would want them to know the difference between margin and markup and periodic and perpetual inventory systems.
If you have employees, they would need to be able to prepare the paycheques and remittances.
They would need to know which benefits are taxable and which are not. They would be required to balance your bank account on a monthly basis so they should know how to reconcile a bank account and any other sort of account required by the business.
Finally, are they certified? Do they belong to any professional bookkeeping association? Are their rates and payment terms reasonable?
During the interview you would have gotten a sense of their communication skills. If, at the end of the interview you have not totally understood what you have been told, then I would conclude that the bookkeeper would not be a good fit for you.
You would also need to determine if your data would be safe by inquiring about back up procedures of the computer data and also what would happen if the bookkeeper suddenly became ill or had a fatality. Remember, ultimately you are responsible for the actions of your business, so you don’t want anything to bite you in the backside just in case you are audited by the CRA.