Recruiting a book-keeper? Start here. As a business owner, it’s common that you become a jack of all trades. You manage and understand all elements of your business and need to have the ability to see holistically what needs to be done. At some point in your growth, even if your background is in finance, you’re likely to identify the need to employ a financial expert. Whether you choose to take on board a book-keeper or you consider a broader accounting position, there are key skills that you need to look for to make sure your accounts are in good hands. Here are 11 expectations to set for your book-keeper.

1. Know the terms
To keep books it’s important to understand the basics. There are key terms that are used to describe the different types of accounts, and whoever you hire will need to be able to understand and apply them. The five basic types of accounts are assets, liabilities, equity, income and expenses.

2. The devil’s in the detail
If you’re recruiting someone to look after your books it’s going to be incredibly important that they are able to focus on details. Looking for a detail-oriented individual is key to allowing you to focus on the bigger picture.

3. Can they see the big picture?
Accounting isn’t just about being able to scrutinise the details, it’s also about understanding the wider view. You need an individual who can see the bigger picture in terms of how accounting needs to support the way you operate your business. Can they create asset and liability accounts? If you purchase a new asset will they know how to allocate the payment to interest expense and liability principal reduction?

4. Look for a driver
Whatever financial support you are looking for you need a candidate who can manage a line of enquiry through to completion: whether it be a financial enquiry or a larger project. This is key to the support you require as it will allow you to focus your attention elsewhere.

5. Keep to deadlines
Finance works in a cycle so you need someone who can keep to deadlines and ensure that nothing gets in the way of hitting key dates. Monthly financial statements need to be available by the 12th of the month. Basic financial statements include the balance sheet, the profit/loss statement and the cash flow statement. Annual financial reporting requires a big commitment in your book-keeper’s calendar that they need to be able to support from the beginning.

6. What are the costs?
Growing a business is all about understanding the financial impact of your decisions. You need to hire someone who can do a proper job tracking all costs by item and job details. The information needs to be accurate and reliable because job costings are critical to understanding the true cost and profit of your actions.

7. Do they understand your business?
While not required, being able to recruit someone who has an understanding of your business will set you miles ahead on the learning curve. Each industry has its own financial fundamentals, and previous experience will give you a real head-start.

8. Let’s talk
In every member of your team, communication skills will be key to your ability to create a cohesive unit that can be as productive as possible. This is also true in finance: communication is critical. You need someone who can both understand direction from the rest of the business, and can translate back the financial information that your business needs to function.

9. Computer literacy is required
It seems obvious, but your ideal candidate will certainly need to be comfortable navigating their way around a computer. Look for someone who is familiar with Word, particularly Excel, email and the internet. If you use specific accounting software then a track record of working with that will also be an advantage.

10. The opportunity to advance
As your business evolves your accounting needs will evolve too. It’s unlikely you will be able to predict and recruit someone who has the skills you will need in the future, so look for someone with an interest in continuing their education. Additional classes or self-study could be required to make sure their accounting skills keep up with your business’s demands.

11. It’s time to commit
As with everyone you recruit, you need a candidate who is willing to make the commitment to be a strong part of your company. If you’re going for part-time employment then make time management skills a priority and make sure there is a commitment to delivering for your company. However many hours your book-keeper works, they need to be committed to delivering the support you need on time, when you need it.

Cash flow is at the financial heart of your business. Your ability to understand, track and monitor your impact on the finances of your business is absolutely crucial to your success. So without a doubt, a book-keeper is a very important member of your team. Recruit carefully and make sure that they bring to your business a skill set and level of experience that will support you on your path of growth. Bringing a well-suited book-keeper into your team will support you in achieving your goals and continuing the journey towards your business success.