The Similarities and Differences between a Bookkeeper and an Accountant

They both work with financial data; they’re both essential for managing a successful business. Yet the roles and duties of a bookkeeper and accountant rarely overlap.

If you are like many business owners, you may not be exactly sure of the differences between a bookkeeper and accountant and whether you should hire one, or both.

An established, growth-focused company will employ the services of both an accountant and bookkeeper. The two professionals work in tandem, to ensure business financials are up to date and accurate, and the financial health of the company is carefully monitored.

If you are still in the early days of your business, you might choose to do the bookkeeping yourself, or hire a bookkeeper for a couple of hours a month until it makes sense to bring someone on full-time or outsource the work.

An accountant, however, should be a key player on your team from day one.

A Look at Bookkeeping for Small Business

The primary role of a bookkeeper is to handle a company’s day to day financial management. A bookkeeper will take care of the small but important details that are essential for providing an accurate picture of where a business stands at any given moment.

In addition to a bookkeeper’s main job, making sure every financial transaction is accurately recorded in the general ledger, they may also lend a hand with other key tasks like invoicing, paying suppliers and vendors, and processing payroll.

Ideally, a company’s books are updated at the end of each business day, so you always have a true account of your sales, expenses and the bottom line. If your business is still in its early stages without a lot of financial activity, however, you should aim to reconcile your own accounts at least once a week.

Why You Need an Accountant

An accountant’s primary role is to help companies make sense of their numbers for the purpose of strategic planning performing such tasks as analyzing, summarizing, interpreting and reporting on financial data in order to provide “big picture” business advice.

As a small business owner, you will want to work with an accountant from the very early days of your business to help with budgeting, forecasting and decision making as well as for strategic tax advice, and identifying opportunities to reduce costs and maximize profitability.

Many business owners think they only need to talk to their accountant once a year, at tax time. But in order to be able to truly gauge the health of your business and make the most of your accountant’s expertise, it is recommended you check in at least once a month.

Your monthly meeting is a chance to review key reports, like your profit and loss statement, discuss opportunities or areas of concern and get timely advice to help meet the goals you have set out in your annual business plan.

Final thoughts

As your business grows, it is essential to have trusted financial professionals managing your books and providing strategic financial advice.

After all, the busier you get, the more complex financial management becomes and the less time you will have to maintain your books and try to make sense of all the data.

A trustworthy bookkeeper’s services are essential for a thriving business, and an accountant can do so much more than handle your taxes. Think of your accountant as a trusted business partner and someone whose services you rely on year-round for advice on how to increase profitability as you take steps to achieve your business goals.

Learn More

At Bennett Thrasher, we provide customized outsourced accounting solutions partnering with you to fill the role of both bookkeeper and accountant.  Contact Matt Grosvenor or Shane George today by calling 770.396.2200 to learn more about how we can help.