Should you hire a bookkeeper or do it yourself?

January 6, 2020
5 minutes read

A make-or-buy decision is a common problem that businesses large and small have to solve. Small businesses have an even more difficult time deciding if it’s best to make or buy something, as they have limited resources in both time and money.

With your small business, you’re faced with the decision to prepare your books by yourself or to outsource your bookkeeping for someone else to perform. While there isn’t a single best answer that applies to all businesses, there are factors you should consider to come to a decision you’re most comfortable with.

Here are some of the key things to keep in mind when deciding to tackle your books yourself or to hire a bookkeeper. Check out the pros and cons of each in our Bookkeeping 101 video below, or scroll down to read more.


Doing it yourself

While outsourcing your books might seem like the simplest and easiest option, it might not be the most efficient. Accounting and bookkeeping services can be costly, and depending on complexity and volume of your business, it might not even be worth it!

In many cases, the situation of a business owner who’s just starting out may be simple enough for them to perform their own bookkeeping. On top of that, the volume of transactions each month might be minimal enough that bookkeeping might not even be a time-consuming task.

Aside from saving money, a small business owner can definitely gain some value by preparing their own books and managing their own balance sheets.

First, performing your own bookkeeping can definitely teach you new business skills in accounting and finance. This knowledge can inspire business leaders at any stage to make better and more informed decisions for future growth opportunities.

Further, performing your own bookkeeping allows you to be more connected to your finances. Instead of looking at a single metric, such as your online bank balance, owning your books can give you a clearer picture of your finances on demand.

Business owners have resources available to help them learn how to perform their own bookkeeping. A great place to start would be blogs from entrepreneurs or companies that you trust and are familiar with, as well as a community of like-minded business owners where you can share tips and advice with each other.

Along with the informative resources, there are many powerful small business bookkeeping software applications in existence—some of which are free to use! Using the right small business accounting software can definitely make your bookkeeping a quick and simple task rather than a more manual approach of using spreadsheets. In addition, you can find a mentor to help teach you how to perform your bookkeeping in the software of your choice.

On the other hand, if bookkeeping is just not your thing, doing it yourself may cost you more than hiring someone else to do it. For instance, if you just can’t wrap your head around accounting concepts, it may cause you a lot of stress and time wasted on trying to prepare your books. Since time is money, it might actually be beneficial to outsource your books in such cases.

Hiring a bookkeeper

Saving time is one of the top reasons why you would want to hire a bookkeeper, but growth is also another key factor. When business picks up and you’ve got a lot on your plate, delegating the task of bookkeeping makes sense as you focus on the bigger picture. In addition, more complex issues usually arise the more you grow, and having a dedicated bookkeeper will not only keep your books accurate but give you immense peace of mind.

Putting your confidence in a competent and experienced bookkeeper can eliminate stress from complicated accounting concepts. Great bookkeepers will get to know your specific financial needs and can even provide you with expert insights into your business’s finances.

However, while hiring a bookkeeper does free up some time for yourself, it’s important to still pay some attention to your books. Your bookkeeper may be knowledgeable on accounting concepts, but they might not be an expert mind reader on what’s happening with your business. It’s essential to check in with them so that their treatment of your transactions is appropriate and relevant to exactly what happened in real life.

On a similar note, it’s important to check in with your bookkeeper so that you don’t completely lose ownership of your finances. If you outsource your books, you should still review your financial statements periodically to keep an ongoing picture of your financial situation.

What should you do?

There’s no exact answer that applies to all businesses. It’s up to you to consider and gauge your time, financial resources, as well as capacity and willingness to learn bookkeeping, in order to answer the make-or-buy decision for your books. Like any small business choice, this might require a bit of trial and error—but you’ll eventually find the solution that works best for you.

About Wave Advisors

We built our software to empower you to own your finances. Then we built Wave Advisors to lend you a hand if you’re looking for one-on-one coaching for your bookkeeping. We also take it off your hands completely if that’s your preference. Learn more about Wave Advisors or book a free consultation now.

starter
Plan
starter
Plan
$0
pro
Plan
$16USD
$20CAD/mo
Option to accept online payments
Starting at
2.9% + $0.60
per credit card transaction
Starting at
2.9% + $0*
per credit card transaction
for first 10 transactions/mo
Unlimited invoices, estimates, bills
Add your logo and brand colors
Automate late payment reminders
with online payments
Wave mobile app
Unlimited bookkeeping records
Dashboard and reports
Auto-import transactions
Auto-merge transactions
Auto-categorize transactions
Add users
Live-person chat and email support
with any paid add-on
Digitally capture unlimited receipts
additional fee
Payroll
additional fee
additional fee
Hire a bookkeeper
additional fee
additional fee
Option to accept online payments
Starting at
2.9% + $0.60
per credit card transaction
Starting at
2.9% + $0*
per credit card transaction
for first 10 transactions/mo
Unlimited invoices, estimates, bills
Add your logo and brand colors
Automate late payment reminders
with online payments
Wave mobile app
Unlimited bookkeeping records
Dashboard and reports
Auto-import transactions
Auto-merge transactions
Auto-categorize transactions
Add users
Live-person chat and email support
with any paid add-on
Digitally capture unlimited receipts
additional fee
Payroll
additional fee
additional fee
Hire a bookkeeper
additional fee
additional fee
starter
Plan
$0
Legacy businesses
New businesses
pro
Plan
$16USD or
$20CAD/mo
starter
Plan
$0
Legacy businesses
New businesses
pro
Plan
$16USD or
$20CAD/mo
Invoicing + payments
Option to accept online payments
(and create unique links with checkouts)
Starting at
2.9% + $0.60
per credit card transaction
Starting at
2.9% + $0.60
per credit card transaction
Starting at
2.9% + $0*
per credit card transaction
for first 10 transactions/mo

Send invoices, estimates, and other docs:

  • via links or PDFs
  • automatically, via Wave
when you add-on online payments
when you add-on online payments
Automate late payment reminders
when you add-on online payments
when you add-on online payments
Add your logo and brand colors
Remove Wave branding from footers
Add attachments to invoices and estimates (coming June 10)
Create reusable message templates (coming June 10)
Invoice and estimate in the mobile app
Accounting
Unlimited bookkeeping records
Auto-import bank transactions
Auto-merge and categorize transactions
Add users to your business
businesses already auto-importing bank transactions and/or that already have users added to their businesses as of May 1, 2024
Digitally capture unlimited receipts
Manage accounting transactions in the mobile app and sync with desktop (NEW!)
when you add-on receipts
when you add-on receipts
Other Wave features
Dashboard and reports
Live-person chat + email support
with any optional add-on
with any optional add-on
Optional add-ons
Receipts
nothing changes
additional fee
included
Payroll
nothing changes
additional fee
additional fee
Advisors
nothing changes
additional fee
additional fee
Invoicing + payments
Option to accept online payments
(and create unique links with checkouts)
Starting at
2.9% + $0.60
per credit card transaction
Starting at
2.9% + $0.60
per credit card transaction
Starting at
2.9% + $0*
per credit card transaction for first 10 transactions/mo
Send invoices, estimates, and other docs via links or PDFs
Send invoices, estimates, and other docs automatically, via Wave
when you add-on online payments
when you add-on online payments
Automate late payment reminders
when you add-on online payments
when you add-on online payments
Add your logo and brand colors
Remove Wave branding from footers
Add attachments to invoices and estimates (coming June 10)
Create reusable message templates (coming June 10)
Invoice and estimate in the mobile app
Accounting
Unlimited bookkeeping records
Auto-import, -merge, and -categorize bank transactions
businesses already auto-importing bank transactions and/or that already have users added to their businesses as of May 1, 2024
Add users to your business
businesses already auto-importing bank transactions and/or that already have users added to their businesses as of May 1, 2024
Digitally capture unlimited receipts
Manage accounting transactions in the mobile app and sync with desktop (NEW!)
when you add-on receipts
when you add-on receipts
Other Wave features
Dashboard and reports
Live-person chat + email support
with any optional add-on
with any optional add-on
Optional add-ons
Receipts
nothing changes
additional fee
included
Payroll
nothing changes
additional fee
additional fee
Advisors
nothing changes
additional fee
additional fee

*While subscribed to Wave’s Pro Plan, get 2.9% + $0 (Visa, Mastercard, Discover) and 3.4% + $0 (Amex) per transaction for the first 10 transactions of each month of your subscription, then 2.9% + $0.60 (Visa, Mastercard, Discover) and 3.4% + $0.60 (Amex) per transaction. Discover processing is only available to US customers. See full terms and conditions for the US and Canada. See Wave’s Terms of Service for more information.

By Oliver Mathias

The information and tips shared on this blog are meant to be used as learning and personal development tools as you launch, run and grow your business. While a good place to start, these articles should not take the place of personalized advice from professionals. As our lawyers would say: “All content on Wave’s blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice.” Additionally, Wave is the legal copyright holder of all materials on the blog, and others cannot re-use or publish it without our written consent.

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