What does a bookkeeper actually do?

At this time of year, when I tell people that I am a bookkeeper and a business trainer, they will often say to me 'so you must be busy at this time of year, thinking that we must do tax returns. Wrong!

So what do we as bookkeepers actually do to earn our fees? That can be quite a number of things, but here's the 'usual' work we do with a client. I should add that this happens often and is a 'worse case scenario'.

Step 1: Meet with the Client. If it is a 'rescue job' then it means there's a heap of work to do and the client's records and paperwork are in a mess, which they are usually very apologetic about. The initial meeting is a chance to see what needs to be done, where the client wants to get to with the financial records of the business and working out a way of getting them from point A, the rescue job, to point B, the ongoing care and maintenance of the records.

Step 2: Sort out the records (the shoebox, miscellaneous files and whatever else we get as information). This is the messy bit, as we also try to work out how they run their business and what type of expenses they have. Then we setup the files in the same way as the Business Books South West records are structured, so there's an easy way to find and look at the records plus they are in sequence.

Step 3: Put the records into some sort of system. Sometimes it is Excel, or if the turnover justifies it then we'll use MYOB. This is the fiddly bit, where we have to go through all the records and cross match the bank statements to the records and pick up all the income and expenses for the month. This is also the most challenging bit for bookkeepers.

Step 4: Finalise all the financial statements and check them for accuracy. Sometimes this can be difficult if we don't really know what happened or if there's records missing, but we try to get it correct as much as we can.

Step 5: Take filed records and financial statements back to the client and make them happy that the mess is now sorted. And then setup an ongoing system whereby the records won't get into a mess again and the client knows what to do!!! This is the step with the greatest achievement for me personally as it signifies a happy and less stressed client and from my perspective another challenge conquered.

So when someone doesn't realise what a bookkeeper does, this is what we do, over and over again! Boring number crunchers I think not!!!