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Do I Need an Accountant or a Bookkeeper?

Small business owners have a lot on their plates. In addition to selling products and/or performing services, they also have to worry about marketing, employee management, business development and whole host of other duties that can easily eat up time and energy. One of the areas that many business owners are willing to relinquish some control is the area of bookkeeping and accounting. Many business owners are creative types and realize that numbers are not their strong suit. However, the question that most often occurs is, “Do I really need an accountant to look at my business’s finances or can I get away with a bookkeeper?”

The answer to this question, of course, depends on many factors including the type of business you have, what your financial picture looks like, your strategies for growth and much more. Once you know the answer to these questions, you can take a look at the differences between bookkeepers and accountants and see which category best fits your needs.

Bookkeepers

Bookkeepers tend to focus on maintaining daily accounting records, posting debits and credits, generating invoices for clients and checks for vendors and, occasionally, handling payroll. If you’re a small business owner who has not previously hired outside your company for helps with the books, then you yourself have acted as a bookkeeper. Bookkeepers typically do not have a CPA designation and are generally less expensive.

Certified Public Accountants

Certified Public Accountants have a focused education in accounting and must pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination as well as meet state education and experience requirements. They can do everything a bookkeeper can do, but tend to delegate many of these tasks to clerks or technicians (or bookkeepers) in their office so they can be free to look at the entire financial picture of an organization. They can perform auditing, tax and financial services for your business as well as strategize ways for your company to save money or increase revenue.

So Which One Do I Need?

It’s really pretty simple. Do you just need someone to keep track of your books to free you up to focus on running your business or are you ready for that next step up and want a CPA to help with your overall financial picture? Many small businesses move up a ladder: they start by doing the books themselves (or having a family member or employee to them), then they graduate to hiring a bookkeeper, then, after more growth, move on to working with a CPA or CPA firm. Determining which phase of business you’re in will help you do decide which type of professional you need to hire. Learn about the Heartland Accounting process for our accounting services.


Beth has a deep knowledge of QuickBooks and accounting as well as the patience of a great teacher. Beth often works with her clients’ tax CPAs to get their books ready for tax time. Not your normal bookkeeper, Beth holds a BS in Accounting from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She maintains numerous certifications to stay up-to-date technically in both accounting issues and QuickBooks software changes. For more information, please visit www.bookkeepingomaha.com.

4 thoughts on “Do I Need an Accountant or a Bookkeeper?”

  1. It’s nice that bookkeepers tend to focus on daily accounting records, handling payroll, and other duties. My husband wants to start his own business. We both agree that he shouldn’t be in charge of this stuff when he launches because he isn’t too great at math! I’ll pass this information along so that he can look for a bookkeeper to help him out.

  2. I appreciate how the article explains that a CPA is able to help you with all your finances and can be able to help with your taxes and can help you find ways to save money. My uncle is needing help with his finances at his retail company and he also needs assistance with finding new ways to save money. I will suggest that he look into hiring a CPA.

  3. I liked that you pointed out that it would be smart to look into getting a certified public accountant. It is good to know that they need to pass a test to become one. My cousin wants to open up a graphic design business this autumn. It does seem like he should get a CPA to help them out.

  4. It’s good to know from this article that accountants can do any task that is related to the auditing, tax, and financial aspects of a business. It reminded me of my friend who mentioned yesterday over a phone call that he needs help for tax preparation since he doesn’t seem like he’ll be able to handle all the documents by himself. Perhaps hiring an accountant would benefit him greatly in this situation.

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