So, an accountant and a bookkeeper are basically the same thing, right? Wrong.

However, if you thought this was the case, don’t be sitting there red-faced. The two professions are often confused as being the same thing due to them sharing some similarities.

Despite these similarities though, there are also many differences. Bookkeepers and accountants offer different services and areas of expertise. So it is a wise move to get up to speed with what each profession can actually offer your business before you make a costly, time-consuming mistake by hiring the wrong person!

How can a bookkeeper help my business?

Finical, exact and meticulous: all traits characteristic to good bookkeeper. These are all important skills for a bookkeeper as they are the person responsible for recording the financial details and transactions of your business. They are responsible for recording the purchases, sales and petty cash transactions. This all contributes to maintaining the general ledger – the place where they note every single financial transaction involved in the running of your business, no matter how small or how big.

Common tasks bookkeepers will undertake include: issuing invoices; ensuring suppliers are paid; reconciling accounts; dealing with debits and credits; deal with petty cash transactions as well as dealing with payroll.

So how do you know if I need a bookkeeper or not? Well, if you find yourself stressing over your business transactions or if you are perhaps not keeping your records as up-to-date as they should be, it may be time to find yourself a bookkeeper.

Not only will having a professional deal with these key details help take part of the stress of your shoulders and keep your records up-to-date but it will give you more time to do carry out other essential tasks related to the business.

However, if you require more detailed expertise, guidance an assistance, it may be that an accountant would better suit your needs.

How can an accountant help my business?

People often view accountants as number crunchers, but in reality they actually deal with what happens after the numbers have been crunched.

An accountant will prepare financial statements, reports and tax returns and will do so by using the information recorded by the bookkeeper, or in some cases the client.

Accountants use this information to offer informed predictions on profitability and cash flow, as well as providing their expert opinions on tax planning and forecasting financial information. This puts accountants in the ideal position to offer you valuable advice on business planning and growth, helping your business thrive.

So what does my business need: an accountant or bookkeeper?

Before making any rash decisions, ask yourself some key questions. Do I want to expand my business? Do I want to buy a new business premises? Do I want to hire a new employee?

Maybe you have an issue related to tax. You have a tax bill and are unsure of how much or how often you should be saving to cover it. Or does the world of claiming expenses make you feel like a fish out of water? Or perhaps the words ‘tax’ and ‘self-assessment’ simply make you want to scream!

You may be considering seeking some outside investment but want to ensure your business plan is sufficient beforehand. Or maybe you wish to reinvest in the business but want some advice on whether or not it is the right time?

It may be that you are a business beginner and are in search of some general advice reassurance that you are correctly following all financial regulations and are going in the right direction with your business plan and your business finances.

Do these situations sound all too familiar to you? Well in that case, an accountant is likely to be the best option for you and your business.

Helping your business through situations like these by offering their professional expertise is all part of what an accountant does. Investing in valuable advice from an accountant on matters such as these could not only prevent you making costly mistakes and save you money but also prevent you making damaging mistakes that could potentially have disastrous consequences for you and your business.

However, if you don’t relate to any of these scenarios – you have no desire to expand any time soon, have no plans of immediate growth and have no problem when tax return time comes around – then perhaps a bookkeeper would be the best choice to help you and your business for the time being.

How do I know when I need an accountant and/or bookkeeper?

If you are in the fortunate position that business is developing smoothly and you have an increasing number of transactions coming through, then it could well be time to invest in a bookkeeper’s expertise to help ensure all the businesses transactions are recorded efficiently.

If you have reached this point in your business though, it is highly likely that you will also require the professional expertise of an accountant in addition to a bookkeeper. So if you are in this situation, the solution is simple. The best way forward for you and your business will most likely to invest in the expertise of both a bookkeeper and an accountant in order to ensure that your business continues to run swimmingly and continues to thrive, develop and succeed.