In 1. Managing Your Biz Numbers

3 Signs of a Bad Bookkeeper & How to Let Them Go and Move On

I spent literally hours this week cleaning up a mess in a new client’s books.

This kind of forensic clean-up is something I do a lot & that I am predisposed to be good at. It engages the same parts of my brain as a good crossword puzzle – the unknown, the tangles, eat at me until they’re put to rights.

I happily fall down the rabbit-hole of clean-up, deaf to repeated calls that dinner’s ready, that it’s time to walk to dog, that I haven’t gotten out of my chair for hours. It’s satisfying to me to put order, impose structure, organize and make clear what has previously been murky, unclear and, honestly, not useful.

Because that is the point, yo: your financials should be USEFUL.


I guess I’m kind of on a mission about this, especially after the week I had. Call me crazy, but I just think you oughta be able to read your numbers and understand something critical about your business Right Now, your business Yesterday, your business Tomorrow. bad  And you want the right help to do that.

Back to this week’s mess: like I said, it’s something I’m super-used to, although generally, what I find is a mess born of business owners not knowing accounting. Which, obviously, is totally normal. Most people don’t start a business because they want to deal with their bookkeeping or reading their financials on the regular or even know how. And in the rush to do everything our own selves when we’re bootstrapping, yeah, things can go a little sideways.

So while the clean-up is normal for me, what bugged me so much this week was that the mess I was cleaning up was created not by a business owner trying to figure out accounting by pushing buttons in Quickbooks, but by the bookkeeper before me. By someone who really should have known better.

And THAT, my friends,  totally put my knickers in a twist.

And meant I have to write this.

Seriously, fire your bookkeeper.

If any or all of the following are true in your situation, then fire that bookkeeper and find someone better.

Please fire your bookkeeper, if

1.     You don’t feel like you’re getting any stronger in understanding your numbers than you were back when you started working with your person. You look at your reports and you’re still like, WTF, no idea what this means. SERIOUSLY, this is like therapy, people: you’re supposed to make progress. Learning takes time, but if you’re just as in the dark after 3 months of working with someone, address that bad bookkeeping. Your person should be teaching you how to use these resources to SERVE you.

2.     You’re not getting some regular time on the phone or on a Zoom/Skype or face-to-face with your person to ask your questions, to have them explain what your numbers are saying, to allow them to point out trends to you, patterns that perhaps you haven’t noticed and need to be aware of. Your person should be available to you beyond just an email here or there.

3.     You don’t feel like you’re in a partnership with this person for the health, growth, sustainability of your business. YES, sure, you can find someone to do your books for cheeeeeeeap – someone to take care of your transactions, do the basics – but if you want to RULE your business, stomp around tall and powerful in your CEO shoes, then you need a savvy advisor who has your back. Not just someone who’s pushing buttons. Your person should feel, act, deliver like they’re invested in your success.

You Deserve Better.

You deserve a financial advisor who is partnered with you to ensure that your business does as well as possible, who, sure, handles your books but more than that, ensures that you have correct, clear data at your disposal to understand how you’re really doing, to make strategic decisions, to succeed on your terms.

Get what you need. If you’re paying someone and you’re still in the dark, fire your bookkeeper.

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