In October of last year, I wrote part 1 of a bookkeeper series, and here I am with part 2. I’m a bookkeeper and I love my job! Being a bookkeeper is so cool. I really think so, I know it’s a bit nerdy but I don’t care. As a bookkeeper, you are working in the here and now. You’re working with the business owner in and on their business. No day is the same and seriously numbers are not just numbers. They tell a story. More about that another time!
As mentioned last time, bookkeeping is a profession that requires skills! I’m referring again to a book named: Bookkeeping in Canada, written by Marge Wegren- Debris, Certified Professional Bookkeeper. I’ll continue with the last 5 of her 10 ingredients of a good bookkeeper. I never found a list that describes myself and my expectations for my team so well! So here we go:
- Honesty with High Integrity
- Detailed and Organized
- Able to Interpret Information
- Good communicator
- Good Listening Skills
- Good Follow Through
- Believes in Continuous Learning
- Able to Admit When You Don’t Know and Ask For Help
Good skills for becoming a bookkeeper
This one might seem a bit odd to be on this list, because we need to be pretty rigid when it comes to things like accounting rules and CRA compliance. To be clear, we do need to be strict on deadlines for remittances to avoid penalties and interest. We need to pay employees on time to stay within the agreement a business has with them for their payroll. But are you able to listen to different ideas about a certain process a company uses, or a new App they want to implement? To take it one step further, are you capable of being the one who brings new ideas to the table?
Are you flexible if they need you to change your work hours, or process their month-end two days sooner than it was being done? Are you able to accommodate any request – without being a doormat? Flexibility is an important consideration. You are certainly allowed to have limits, but be clear with what those limits are, and be clear with yourself as to whether or not these limits are reasonable. You need to be able to protect yourself, but you also need to know how to meet them in the middle.
7. Good Follow Through
This is about having good follow through in various aspects of this work. First, listen to you gut. If you are feeling like there is a deadline that needs attention, or a task that needs doing, check on it – Don’t ignore it. Your subconscious will often relay something you may have forgotten to write down or to do, and it only takes a moment to follow-up on that thought. This characteristic also applies to knowing the needs of your customers (i.e. request for documentation), knowing the deadlines you need to meet and answering questions they have asked – or getting the answers to questions you have asked.
When you have completed tasks, learn how to check your own work – never assume it is always correct. And if you find an error, then learn how to troubleshoot it and make accurate corrections.
8. Believes in Continuous Learning
You have heard it before: “ You don’t know what you don’t know”. I think one of the things I’ve always enjoyed most about instructing in this industry is that moment when someone’s face changes because they just really understood something new that they didn’t know before.
There is always more to learn in this industry. One of the reasons I love bookkeeping is that the fundamentals never change – total Debits will always have to be equal to total Credits and I don’t expect the mathematical equations for a Balance Sheet to change any time soon. But as one involved in this industry there is the quest for advanced bookkeeping knowledge and developing advisory skills. From the software side, with the explosion of cloud accounting and the constant improvement in the accounting software to the ongoing development of Apps, it leaves us with the challenge of staying on top of it all to be and stay good at what we do. That only happens through ongoing education, and you need to dedicate time for this along with achieving certifications which suit your interest and your customers.
This is another one we should be able to assume but it’s on our list just in case. BE RELIABLE. Show up. Communicate what you’re going to do and when you’re doing it and then so just that! Meet the deadlines for remittances, be compliant with rulings. Be on time. And have a plan B – just in case.
10. Able to Admit When You Don’t Know and Ask For Help!
I never met someone who knows it all – Don’t be one. There is nothing wrong with not knowing all there is to know in this industry. And there is certainly nothing wrong with admitting when you don’t know something.
When I work with a new employee and they don’t ask me questions or they just say everything is ok, it’s a red flag to me. Don’t be afraid to ask, as per Barack Obama!
Have you ever been in a situation where you THOUGHT you understood the task but realized afterward — you missed the boat? Send me a quick message at firstname.lastname@example.org with what question could you have asked to avoid this situation!
Love this post? Be sure to check back for part 1 of this blog post, where we go into the first half of the best qualities to have for being a bookkeeper!