Given the huge variety of skills and tasks that go into bookkeeping, it should come as no surprise that they’re a diverse bunch. You might even be one and not know it.
Bookkeepers can serve a wide range of functions, from standard data entry to advising on business strategy. They come from all walks of life too.
Here are some of the types of bookkeepers that keep businesses running today:
Unofficial "kitchen table" bookkeeper
This might be the small business owner, their spouse, partner or family member. Or it may be someone with another role in the business who ends up working on the accounts by default. They’re doing the basic tasks of data entry, bank reconciliation, invoicing, payments, and filing the paperwork for the accountant. They’re probably self-taught.
This is a one-person bookkeeping firm. They may have started out as a kitchen table bookkeeper and loved it, or maybe they left a big firm. Now they’ve set up business and taken on a few clients of their own through referrals from friends, colleagues and other people who’ve heard they’re bookkeeping. They’re likely to have some training and certification.
Just as there are accounting firms, so there are bookkeeping firms. They often sell off-the-shelf service packages ranging from basic bookkeeping, all the way up to strategic advice.
Department in accountancy firm
Some accounting firms have a bookkeeping department that keeps your accounts up to date and produces monthly reports. These people may also be called accounting technicians.
These bookkeepers work in a business doing the full spectrum of bookkeeping duties. The full-charge bookkeeper often reports directly to the owner (or management) and they may work with an external accountant to deliver all of the business’s accounting needs.
Virtual bookkeepers deliver their service remotely by using online accounting software and meeting mostly via video conference. Doing business this way allows them to keep their prices down. They might be a sole proprietor, inside a practice, or be based offshore as an outsourced service.
Bookkeepers are generally good with people. They like breaking down concepts such as finance and tax so that any business owner can understand them. They’re also interesting characters. Meet some of them in our series of accountant and bookkeeper stories.