What Are The Differences Between A Bookkeeper And An Accountant?

Regardless of your business’s industry, size, and model, bookkeeping and accounting professionals play an essential role in the financial health of your business. While many people know that a bookkeeper is not the same as an accountant, they can’t put their finger on what exactly differentiates a bookkeeper vs accountant. 

In this guide, you’ll learn what separates an accountant from a bookkeeper, which your business should hire and when to employ them. 

Bookkeeper vs. Accountant: An overview 

A bookkeeper starts and an accountant finishes. In other words, a bookkeeper handles the initial stage of an accounting process which is recording and organizing daily financial transactions. An accountant takes up the work done by a bookkeeper and carries on the remaining tasks of the accounting cycle. Accountants are then responsible for analyzing and interpreting data gathered by bookkeepers, consulting with business owners, and preparing financial reports. 

To look at the differences in detail, we will compare bookkeeper vs accountant in two major aspects: job description and required credentials.  

Bookkeeper vs. Accountant: Job description 

Duties of a bookkeeper:

The practice of bookkeeping is far from new to the human race. Bookkeeping may have existed as early as around 2600 B.C. A bookkeeper’s core duty is to maintain complete and accurate records of the money coming in and out of business in a general ledger. Bookkeepers keep track of daily transactions in a consistent, systematic way, and their records allow the accountants to perform their jobs. 

Apart from the primary task of managing accounting ledgers, there are many other responsibilities that a company would ask from a bookkeeper.

A bookkeeper’s job description typically includes: 

  • Entering and correcting Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable
  • Reconciling accounts and matching bank transactions
  • Issuing invoices and processing payments 
  • Managing expense reports 
  • Processing payroll 
  • Adjusting entries where necessary and as instructed by the accountant

Besides the above-mentioned typical responsibilities of bookkeepers, their duties vary depending on the industrial environment and business nature. For example, if you own a cannabis business, you may want to look for someone who can use seed-to-sale software (Biotrack, MJ Freeway, METRC, etc.) Or a bookkeeper who knows how to deal with IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement) will be an ideal choice for trucking businesses. 

Duties of an accountant: 

 An accountant analyzes the financial data collected by the bookkeeper to provide vital business insights and financial advice to the business owner. Accountants look at the big picture, putting key components of your business’s finances together and presenting them via financial statements. Such reports offer you a clear view of where your finances stand and what they imply, as well as what you can and should do about them and where you may anticipate your company will go in the near future.

The following are a few examples of typical requirements in an accounting job description: 

  • Preparing accounts and tax returns
  • Monitoring business spending and budgets
  • Auditing and analyzing financial performance
  • Administering payroll
  • Compiling and presenting financial and budget reports
  • Providing tax planning services 
  • Providing timely forecasts and important insights for future growth

Accounting work is often office-based, with usual 9 to 5 working hours. However, the workload typically becomes much greater during peak seasons like the tax period and the end of a fiscal year.   

In small businesses, an accountant may undertake all of the activities associated with the accounting process, but in larger businesses, various accountants are often in charge of different accounting areas. This might cover both financial and managerial accounting.

Bookkeeper vs. Accountant: Credentials and licensing 

Requirements of a bookkeeper:

In most cases, bookkeepers don’t need to acquire any certificates to handle the books. Businesses or employers usually only require their bookkeepers to have a high school degree providing basic math, communication, and computer skills. Other necessary skills like time management, organization, and multitasking can also be gained in high school.

While bookkeeping is not a licensed profession, businesses sometimes ask for a certification as proof of expertise. Many big organizations offer accreditation and licensing to bookkeepers, such as the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) and the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB).

Software companies for bookkeeping and accounting such as QuickBooks, Excel, Xero offer certifications to highlight bookkeepers’ skills and abilities using these software products. So if your accounting system is heavily dependent on software, a bookkeeper with a sophisticated understanding of accounting-support programs should be your best option. That’s when these software certifications can help you. 

Requirements of an accountant:

Although not always mandatory, an accountant needs to obtain at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or related fields like business, economics, finance, or management. 

In addition to a university degree, an accountant can earn advanced accounting certificates to demonstrate their competency, such as a CPA certificate. A CPA is a “certified public accountant” who has satisfied the state’s standards and passed the Uniform CPA test. They must also meet continuing education criteria to keep their certification. 

When interviewing for a CPA, seek someone knowledgeable about tax law, proficient in accounting software and with excellent communication skills. They should be familiar with your sector as well as the unique demands and expectations of small enterprises.

When to hire a bookkeeper vs. an accountant

If your business is still in the early stages and you feel confident managing all the receipts and recording transactions, you may not need a bookkeeper yet. Do your own bookkeeping and hire a part-time accountant as a financial consultant.

However, when your business starts growing you’ll soon be overwhelmed by the paperwork. Then, it’s the right time to get a full-time bookkeeper to record daily data and keep your finances organized. Plus, an accountant at this point can help you create a long-term business plan, handle taxes neatly or advise you on the legal structure. 

Before you finally decide between a bookkeeper vs accountant, consider not only their credentials and expertise but also their cost, reputation, and their experience working in your industry. 

Try Shoeboxed today!

Whether you do your own bookkeeping or hire a professional, receipts managing and organizing still causes a lot of headaches. Shoeboxed can help you digitize every receipt, automatically extract data and categorize them for you within seconds. With Shoeboxed your receipts are stored safely in the cloud, fully searchable and well-organized. 

Get started with Shoeboxed for free! 

6 Reasons to Invest in Bookkeeping Management Software for Restaurants

A day in a restaurant is as hectic as you can imagine. Everyone working both front and back of house carries out activities to keep the business running including purchasing raw materials, food preparation, customer service, cleaning, accounting, reporting… and the list goes on! 

A restaurant manager is the one who ensures that things run smoothly and efficiently. The manager usually focuses on customer service and team management during opening hours. Yet they’re usually the one who ends up doing bookkeeping and reporting at the end of an exhausting day. The tedious and monotonous bookkeeping task is often overlooked and much more likely to fall to the very bottom of the priority list. This can lead to confusion and chaos when one inaccurate record occurs. 

Why do you have to make it hard when you can make it smart? Let’s make bookkeeping tasks less tiresome with the aid of bookkeeping management software. 

In this article, we’ll look into the importance of bookkeeping in a restaurant business, examine six reasons a restaurant business needs bookkeeping management software, and guide restaurant owners or managers in finding the right application to fit their business.

Why is bookkeeping important to a restaurant business?

What is bookkeeping?

We all know what bookkeeping is to some extent, but let’s break down what exactly we mean by bookkeeping before diving into why it’s important for restaurant businesses.

  • Bookkeeping is the practice of recording all expenditures and incomes, which demonstrates the cash flow in a business. 
  • Bookkeeping management involves recording all financial transactions such as material expenses, service expenses, payroll, as well as income (like customer or client payments for goods and services).
  • Bookkeeping is carried out regularly so that managers can track all information and money movements on their books to make key operating, investing, and financing decisions.

A bookkeeper is a person responsible for bookkeeping. Without bookkeepers, companies wouldn’t be aware of their current financial position, as well as the transactions that occur within the company’s walls. Many restaurant owners and managers take on their businesses’ bookkeeping management to save costs. The success of this task lies in restaurant owners and managers’ bookkeeping experience. 

Why should restaurants do proper bookkeeping?

Bookkeeping management is a crucial function in the restaurant business for both legal and financial management purposes. It allows you to track every detailed report about the restaurant’s revenue, food, labor, and operating expenses. Based on these, a bookkeeper calculates precisely how much the restaurant is taxed and processes it on time. 

It’s the restaurant’s legal obligation to pay tax and any restaurant owner and manager wants the tax procedures to go as seamlessly as possible. Proper bookkeeping management will save you plenty of time and work. It also ensures your business violates no obligations when it comes to money affairs. 

Restaurant owners and managers often overlook the importance of matters such as keeping records of every penny spent. Over time this leads to confusion or even huge losses for any restaurant business. 

Proper bookkeeping gives restaurant businesses a reliable measure of their performance. Thanks to that resource of information, you can get a snapshot of the business’ health and whether or not to adjust any operational activities. 

Make the switch to bookkeeping management software

Bookkeeping management software which can do the same job as a bookkeeper and costs only a fraction of a bookkeeper’s salary is considered a good solution for restaurant owners and managers. Thanks to such software’s efficiency, thousands of restaurants have switched to these digital tools  instead of hiring a bookkeeper .

6 reasons to invest in bookkeeping management software for restaurants 

1. Storage

A study has shown that restaurants generate more than 1.5 billion pounds of paper waste per year on receipts alone. Your business does contribute a part to that huge number. 

Paper receipts from customers and vendors can take up to 25% of a restaurant’s office space. Like other restaurant owners and managers, you may be keeping two or three copies of some documents and filing them in different places. This duplication creates waste and makes the workplace environment cramped and uncomfortable. 

By digitizing receipts and storing them in bookkeeping management software, you don’t have to worry about storage anymore.

2. Waste

Every business should be conscious of the environment. With many tree-based products being used and wasted, there’s an estimate that the majority of Earth’s rainforests will be completely gone within the next 100 years. Going paperless is every business’ responsibility to help save the environment and protect the Earth. 

Much of the paper waste produced by restaurants are customer bills and vendor receipts. You can help reduce these sources of waste by using bookkeeping management software. 

3. Supply cost

Paper-based records include the cost of paper and several sources of indirect supply costs. The indirect supply costs include costs of filing cabinets, printers and ink, and other stationery. 

Such costs for restaurants change depending on the season, with more papers issued during the busiest periods and fewer papers issued during off-peak seasons. 

With bookkeeping management software, the supply cost remains the same through different points of the year, thus saving a lot of expenses for restaurant owners.

4. Productivity

It’s hard to find the right piece of paper in a pile containing thousands of others. Even in the most organized workplace, it can still puzzle anyone searching for things, which slows them down. It can go from bad to worse if you’re in a rush and have to deal with difficult customers or merchants. 

A digital document archive with a powerful search function will greatly improve one’s productivity. Bookkeeping management software helps restaurant owners and managers cut off lots of time on finding documents, thus staying focused and engaged in more important tasks.

5. Accessibility

Easy data accessibility is one of the key qualities that restaurant owners and managers look for in their bookkeeping management software. With a huge customer and vendor database, extracting and analyzing information done by a bookkeeper for one specific request is nearly impossible. 

With bookkeeping management software, customer and vendor data has been extracted and stored in a place where you can search for it with a click. Thanks to this highly accessible feature of bookkeeping management software, now restaurant owners and managers can search their database in seconds. 

6. Security

Paper documents are susceptible to risk. Keeping piles of files on-site can introduce several risks, including an incident of fire, poor environmental conditions, and even theft. 

If your business office catches on fire, your paper records could go up in smoke. Floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters can also result in the loss of important business documents. If records are stored in moisture-prone areas, they’re subject to mold. 

Therefore, off-site storage is a solution to protect important documents that many businesses look for. Unfortunately, restaurant records are not as secret and confidential as other financial documents, and restaurant owners and managers could not afford to pay a place at a professional records storage provider. Chances are they’ll look for something which can store documents safely and cost a reasonable price. 

Bookkeeping management software is an optimal solution. Files digitized and stored on the cloud are much safer than in their physical form. Besides, digital documents are protected using multiple security solutions, encrypted, and restricted to limited users who have been granted access. 

What is the best bookkeeping software for restaurants?

Now that you know about bookkeeping management software and its benefits, it’s time for decision making. Choosing the right one is essential because you’ll use it every day to track the money coming in and going out of your business. 

However, the variety of software available in the market can confuse and overwhelm any decision-maker. Ask yourself these questions and you can eventually come up with a clear picture of what you’re finding.

Identify your needs

Do you need a platform that allows you to track inventory, receipt, and sales tax or more direct concerns? Do yourself a favor by making a list of your bookkeeping needs and prioritizing them from least to most important. Understanding your needs before you start researching solutions helps you find the right software without any doubts or concerns.

Look for features that meet your needs

It’s easy to get starry-eyed about features. Don’t blame yourself for this because some software is made to catch the eye of many people. Escape distractions, return to your list of prioritized needs, and evaluate only the software that meets the majority of those needs.

Check your budget

What if bookkeeping management software is amazing, but it’s beyond your budget? Or you may find a hot deal that does not come up with the features you wish to have? All in all, you should figure out the ideal software you wish to have and evaluate whether or not it can fit your budget.

Make bookkeeping management software part of your business operation today

Bookkeeping management software developed by Shoeboxed is an ideal tool for professional accounts and small business owners.

With Shoeboxed, you can turn your receipts into data and organize, make reports and analyze your current financial position at any time and anywhere. 

To get the most out of your bookkeeping management, get started with Shoeboxed for free!

Career Profile: Everything You Need To Know About Bookkeepers

All over the world, most businesses by law must do bookkeeping. Bookkeeping records all financial transactions and systematically categorizes them, calculating the business’s exact income and expenses. In other words, bookkeeping is critical to your business’s success, but how much do you know about the profession that keeps you in the financial loop? Read on to find out the career profile of a bookkeeper!

What is a bookkeeper?

A bookkeeper is someone who records your daily business’s transactions and manages accounting ledgers. In essence, a bookkeeper keeps your finances in order. 

Responsibilities of a bookkeeper

So, does a bookkeeper only enter data into the accounting system? The answer is definitely no! Besides the main task of collecting and recording data, here are some other common roles a bookkeeper performs:

  • Bank reconciliation 

A bookkeeper double-checks whether the money leaving an account matches the actual money spent. 

With cash flow constantly changing and so much money coming in and out, it’s easy for errors to fall through the cracks. To avoid this, bookkeepers check and compare your recordings to documents provided by a third party (such as a bank, a credit card company, etc.) to ensure data is synced and accurate. In case there are any discrepancies, the bookkeeper will review and promptly correct them. 

  • Bills and invoices 

Bookkeepers can also take care of bills and invoices. This directly involves handling accounts receivable and accounts payable. Both of these responsibilities ensure that customers pay you (ideally on time) and that your bills are paid before the due date. 

An excellent tool that can help your bookkeepers to stay on top of these problems is Shoeboxed. Shoeboxed helps you categorize, digitize, and extract important data from your receipts in just a click. Every one of your bills and invoices will be well-organized and easy to find. Using Shoeboxed, your bookkeeper no longer needs to go through piles of paper to process a payment. 

You can sign up for free and let Shoeboxed save you time & money!

  • Payroll management 

Bookkeepers are sometimes in charge of payroll processing, as well. While the procedure may differ among businesses, the task typically entails verifying and calculating employees’ salaries, deducting taxes and other deductions, and then sending payment. 

As every business is different, the responsibilities of a bookkeeper vary across companies and industries. However, in every business, a bookkeeper should carry out excellent and systematic bookkeeping in order to manage finances better and achieve your company goals.

What skills does a bookkeeper need to master?

Here are some ideal qualities and proficiencies to look for when hiring for a bookkeeper: 

  • Excellent with numbers: All the tasks that a bookkeeper performs involve numbers. That’s why a bookkeeper has to be comfortable dealing with complex calculations. In certain circumstances, the nature of your business determines the level of numerical expertise. But there is no escape from numbers and calculation. So it’s best that your bookkeeper doesn’t get headaches whenever they see digits.
  • Extraordinary organizational skills: A successful bookkeeper is someone who’s well-organized. They’re responsible for recording each and every transaction, from supplier invoices to customer receipts. So if bookkeepers don’t know how to organize things, they’re likely to make mistakes and cause you financial damage. 
  • Good communication skills: A bookkeeper needs to be socially intelligent as they have to communicate with customers, suppliers, and colleagues to collect data. Plus, they should be able to speak in plain English, simplifying technical terms so that everyone can understand. 
  • Proficient skills in accounting software (optional): If your business doesn’t use an accounting program, this trait is totally optional. Otherwise, computer skills are essential as they can save you time when training, as well as ensure data entry will be accurate to avoid issues..  

Do bookkeepers need any qualifications?

In general, a bookkeeper doesn’t need any qualifications or license to perform their job. However, many organizations offer bookkeeping certificates. Though these certifications are not regulated by any state or federal office, it’s still a useful tool for you to seek the most suitable bookkeeper for your business. Below are two examples of common bookkeeping certifications:

  • American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB): To earn AIPB certification, bookkeepers must have at least two years of full-time work experience, pass a national exam, and agree to follow the AIPB code of ethics. Through its assessment, the AIPB qualifies professionals in many areas like adjustments, error control, payroll, inventory management, internal controls, and fraud prevention. Additionally, bookkeepers need to engage in continuing education to maintain their accreditation. 
  • National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB): Bookkeepers can obtain different types and levels of NACPB certification and license. To get NACPB licensed, bookkeepers must have 2,000 hours of work experience, pass an exam and sign a code of conduct. They must complete 24 hours of continuing education each year to keep their license. 

What is the average salary for a bookkeeper?

The salary or hourly rates you’ll pay totally depend on your business’s nature and what it needs. That means you can determine the right compensation for your bookkeeper through these two factors: services/workload and expertise.

  • Services/workload: This is pretty straightforward as the more work you need bookkeepers to do, the more you have to pay them. For example, if you need someone to check the books once a month, it’ll cost less than hiring someone part-time to handle your daily operations. So, determine what tasks you need professional help with, estimate the time it might take them to finish, and then you can know if you need someone part-time, full-time, or on a project basis. From there, you can determine the cost to hire a bookkeeper. 
  • Expertise: If your accounting system is complex, you would want a certified or licensed bookkeeper. It can give you peace of mind and assurance that your money is in excellent hands, but it will definitely cost you more.

Visit recruiting websites to give yourself a good idea of how much it should cost in your company’s particular market. For instance, according to Indeed, bookkeepers’ average base salary is $38,615 per year and $18,94 per hour (based on 2021 statistics). 

Bookkeeper vs. Accountant

By and large, a bookkeeper mainly focuses on recording and organizing financial data. An accountant analyzes, interprets, and communicates those data to business owners and investors. 

Check out this article for detailed explanations: Accounting Vs. Bookkeeping: What Are The Differences? 

Final thoughts 

There is no reason for you to stay caught up in day-to-day tasks like recording data or organizing receipts. Hiring a bookkeeper is a wise investment that will help your company flourish. A dedicated bookkeeper can take care of your books and keep good track of your cash flow, freeing you up to devote more time to really grow your business. 

Want to streamline your bookkeeping process? Or improve accuracy? Shoeboxed has got you covered. 

Experience paperless with Shoeboxed