Technically speaking, anyone can perform bookkeeping services, and that includes a CPA. You obviously want someone who knows what they’re doing. That usually includes four options:

  1. A CPA
  2. A general bookkeeper
  3. A niche bookkeeper
  4. A regular person

Given those options, how do you decide who should be doing your books? Let’s take a look.

Price

The first thing I recommend people look at is how much the monetary investment will be for the services you’re looking at. A CPA will tend to charge the most. After all, they’ve been through years of school and certifications to obtain their title. Depending on what bookkeeping services you need done, it could be very expensive, costing several hundred dollars per hour of work.

A niche bookkeeper is the next tier down, followed by a general bookkeeper, and then a regular person. Many people end up choosing a general bookkeeper, but a niche bookkeeper can be invaluable for specialized markets like real estate.

Attitude and knowledge

Choosing a regular person to handle your books has several drawbacks. They may be cheap, but they may not know what they’re doing. And if you keep coming to them with questions or concerns about their work, it can negatively impact your relationship with them.

A slightly better option is a general bookkeeper. That person will likely have a good base of knowledge regarding Quickbooks, debits, and credits. But when you encounter something specific to your industry—like real estate—they likely won’t understand. I’ve talked to people who have been told, “That service isn’t included,” or even, “Only a CPA can help with that.”

So let’s look at a CPA instead. They’ll have a huge amount of knowledge regarding what you need from them. However, they’re used to handling much higher level work than data entry, so many will find the task below them. And even if they will do it, they charge their normal rates for higher level work.

Your best bet as far as attitude and knowledge goes will be a niche bookkeeper with industry specific knowledge and experience.

Timeliness

So who is going to get you what you need the quickest?

A CPA has the ability to do your bookkeeping quickly, but their availability will hurt the overall turnaround time. You may have noticed that CPAs tend to be the busiest in April and October. They won’t have time to clean up your books during those busy periods. And even if they can make time, they will have far less time to communicate with you then.

A niche bookkeeper will tend to have the best results when it comes to taking care of you in a timely fashion.

So yes, a CPA can do your bookkeeping, and may even have time to do it well. But your CPA is never the best option or even the easiest one. If your business is in a niche market like real estate, your best option is a niche bookkeeper. Hire someone who understands your specific industry and can help you prepare and plan for taxes, manage cash flow, and give you specialized advice.

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