Overcoming Innovation Sabotage: 4 Common SBIR Accounting Mistakes to Avoid

The price of non-compliance can cost you an SBIR award. Are you making any of these easily preventable mistakes?

Government contracting can be a challenge; when you’ve cleared one hurdle, another one awaits, like finding a government-approved accounting system.

When COVID-19 hit, North Carolina's BioMedomics made a tremendous impact on the world by introducing their groundbreaking COVID-19 rapid test.

From their experience developing a rapid test to diagnose sickle cell disease through the SBIR program, BioMedomics was able to help combat the pandemic by slowing down the spread of contagion with their rapid COVID tests.

Doctor Holding BioMedomics COVID-19 rapid test

Now, we want you to picture a scenario where these rapid COVID tests didn't exist because of an oversight. What if the folks at BioMedomics failed to seize the federal seed funding needed for their initial research and development? And what if it was all because of something as simple as having an inadequate accounting system?

If BioMedomics didn't have their ducks in a row when they started their SBIR journey, this could have been the outcome. There are many pitfalls in traversing the SBIR program, and so many of them are easily avoidable.

There's a good chance you're reading this blog because you have a solution to today's most pressing technological and scientific needs, and you don't want to jeopardize your idea over something as trivial as accounting.

Let's look at some of the most common mistakes SBIR awardees make to sabotage their hard work.

Mistake 1:
Not having an acceptable and compliant accounting system. 

If it feels like we're constantly going on about the importance of government-approved accounting systems and Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) compliance, it's because we are. And that's for good reason.

Too often, we see dreams dashed because a small business owner's accounting system wasn't adequate. Unfortunately, oversight agencies, like the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) or the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA), aren't forgiving for non-compliance among government contractors.

auditor working with SBIR financial statements

The real shame is how easily avoidable these failures are. Having a FAR-compliant accounting system means you are following the BEST accounting practices. And practicing excellent accounting should be second nature.

Awarded SBIR grants are cost-reimbursable, but your accounting system must be compliant with FAR Part 31. This particular regulation establishes cost principles and procedures and helps you determine which costs are reimbursable, and you’ve accounted for them.

Typically, the first phase of the SBIR program is a firm-fixed-price (FFP) contract which is not subject to any adjustments, so your chances of having the DCAA breathing down your neck about compliance are relatively slim.

However, this doesn't mean you should wait until the last minute to ensure everything is in line with FAR requirements. These government watchdogs will check your accounting system before Phase II, and you can still lose an award for non-compliance no matter how much work you put into Phase I.

Mistake 2:
Proposing too low F&A or indirect rates.

You may think proposing a low, conservative estimate of your Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs might give you a leg up when it comes to winning over the government. But, this kind of thinking could land you in hot water.

F&A, or indirect costs in a grant, can include electricity, internet, rent, and administrative services (and more). Unfortunately, we often watch small business owners create SBIR proposals with inaccurate indirect costs.

Incorrectly projecting indirect costs can lead to all sorts of cash flow nightmares. For example, if the amount you spend on indirect costs winds up exceeding the amount you projected, you'll be responsible for paying the remainder out of pocket.

Not everyone has thousands of dollars lying around, which means grantees may have to tap into their bank accounts or take out a second mortgage. This, of course, can have devastating effects on your business.

On the flip side, if your rate is much lower than what you projected, you run the genuine risk of committing inadvertent fraud by overbilling the government.

Estimating indirect rates can be an uphill battle, but it is your responsibility to project these costs in your proposal accurately. You'll need to know all of your company's expenses (direct and indirect) and understand how to charge costs in your accounting system appropriately.

Here's a great place to start: list all of your company's costs (don't worry about whether they're direct or indirect at this point.); your profit/loss statement or your income statement can help.

Not only do you need to understand the differences between direct costs, indirect costs, and even unallowable costs, but you must also thoroughly track your indirect rates to avoid any nasty surprises that could spell financial ruin.

Mistake 3:
Improper timekeeping and uncompensated overtime issues.

Sometimes, the idea of having to fill out a timesheet can feel too micromanaging. You or your employees might find punching in for the workday an unnecessary task better suited for people working menial jobs. But this is far from the truth.

Timekeeping is a vital cog in the accounting machine. Payroll is one of your most significant expenses, and keeping track of the hours worked is crucial. By documenting the actual amount paid to you and your employees, you can allocate these costs to the various billable and non-billable tasks performed in your project.

Close-up Of A Businesswoman Filling Weekly Time Sheet On Laptop In OfficeEvery cost-reimbursable government award must be FAR and DCAA compliant, and this includes timekeeping. FAR 31.201-2(d) states:

"A contractor is responsible for accounting for costs appropriately and for maintaining records, including supporting documentation, adequate to demonstrate that costs claimed have been incurred, are allocable to the contract, and comply with applicable cost principles in this subpart and agency supplements. The contracting officer may disallow all or part of a claimed cost that is inadequately supported."

Yes, once again, we stress the importance of being FAR compliant. And yes, once again, this means employing BEST practices.

An audit will heavily scrutinize your timekeeping procedures. To ensure things go smoothly, make sure your company has documented policies and procedures, a labor charging system for hourly time, specific accounting and billing system properties, and a staff trained in DCAA compliance.

Here is what you'll need to do to get your timekeeping system up to speed:

  • Create a policy detailing the timekeeping requirements for ALL employees
  • Record EVERY hour of the workday, including leave
  • Have every employee track their time DAILY
  • Make sure you sign off and approve employee timesheets
  • Keep all timesheets (including timesheet corrections) for at least two years

Having a transparent, organized timekeeping system is one way to ensure you won't lose that hard-fought SBIR award. It will also ensure you don't run into the costly issue of uncompensated overtime. Uncompensated overtime is the excess hours worked by employees exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) (salaried employees) in a 40-hour week without additional compensation, and it is an oversight that can cost you dearly.

Mistake 4:
Thinking you can do the books yourself.

The SBIR program is aggressively competitive, and the government's expectations can seem insurmountable.

Having a detailed Excel spreadsheet and QuickBooks is beneficial, but there is only so much those tools can do. For example, they can't cover things like rates, labor distribution, and accurate timekeeping.

Frustrated Businessman doing his own SBIR accounting and looking at laptopYou probably think you can't afford the costs of accounting services to bring you into compliance. It's understandable. But what are your innovations and ideas worth? You can't afford to have your solutions shelved because of flimsy and inadequate accounting.

FAR compliant accounting systems are complex and unique. Your time is best spent focusing on the research and development of your project. Not tracking indirect expenses, reconciling books, monitoring job costs reports, developing timekeeping procedures, and keeping checks and balances.

Team 80 is on a mission to help innovators like you succeed. We're also on a mission to eliminate SBIR failures. We understand the nuances of government-approved accounting and FAR requirements, and our outsourced accounting solutions are affordable so that you won't be breaking the bank.

Why are you waiting? Let us take over the accounting aspects so you can focus on turning your vision into a reality! Get in touch today!


Female & Male Asian American Business Owners sitting at table working on accounting using laptop and calculator

How Do I Clean Up My Accounting Records?

We get it. Accounting and bookkeeping are complicated.

Small business owners come to us all the time with questions like:

Women Owner of a flower business sitting at a table with a laptop, invoices and calculator doing her accounting records“How do I clean up old QuickBooks transactions,” “How do small businesses maintain their accounts?”, “Why is bookkeeping so hard?”

Your time running a business isn’t best spent reconciling transactions or cleaning up balance sheets. You simply don’t have the time to focus your energy on accounting, and maybe because of it, your financial records have gotten a little chaotic and messy.

It happens. But should it KEEP happening? No. Unchecked messes can devastate a small business. Having impeccably clean books is everything.

For your business to survive and thrive, you MUST have clean account records and books. You should be able to access your business finances at the drop of a hat if need be.

Let’s take a look at some things you can do to clean up your chaotic bookkeeping.

Table of contents:

 

Are your personal and business accounts separate?

 

As mentioned in our previous blog, entrepreneurs shouldn’t blend their personal and business accounts.Female Business Owner sitting at table working on accounting using phone in hand and laptop on table

Every small business needs to have its own business account, period. Several banks offer low to no-fee, interest-earning accounts for small businesses, and almost all of these accounts have ATM accessibility and online/mobile banking tools.

“It will save you lots of headaches down the road if you keep your business and personal banking transactions in separate accounts. You should run all business transactions through a business bank account or credit card. Personal expenses should be kept separate.” — Sarah Sinicki, Director of Business Development, Team 80 Small Business Accounting and Bookkeeping

 

My software receives transactions from my bank feed; why are none of them reconciled?

You understand the importance of reconciliations. You know that when you don’t conduct regular bank reconciliations, you lose insight into how well your business is doing. You integrated your bank feed with your accounting software for this reason.

female business owner sitting at table with laptop, papers and calculator working on accountingBut what if your accounting system shows you’ve reconciled nothing? There’s a good chance you thought integrating your bank feed was all you had to do.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.

Importing transactions is only part of the process. No accounting software will do all the work for you. You still need to review, enter, and code each transaction into the correct general ledger account every time.

Compare transactions in your software with the same ones on your bank statements. Once you have reviewed everything, the difference between the ending balance in your accounting system and your bank statement should be $0.00.

 

How do I clean up old transactions in my accounting software?

Keeping your financial records clean is crucial for financial health visibility.

Purging old transactions by either deleting or voiding them out is a perfect way to unclutter and refine your reporting accuracy.

Doing so will ensure you have a true sense of where you stand when it comes to your finances.Senior Male Business Owner sitting at table working on accoutning

“If you are going to clean these transactions yourself, you need to make sure all transactions from your bank and credit cards are entered and coded in your accounting system correctly. The bank balance on your statement should tie to your books each month. If not, you will need to investigate and find out where the discrepancy is coming from.” — Sarah Sinicki

 

Is the balance sheet you manually keep track of missing entries?

You’re busy running your business. And you might forget to track an expense.

Errors happen - it’s human nature. But, when transactions fall through the cracks they can be hard to detect later. If you use an accounting spreadsheet, the best thing you could do is set it up as a check register, where you can enter each transaction and ensure it mirrors the bank statement like you would with your personal bank account.

As a quick fix, this method will suffice. In the long run, it won’t serve you well. For your business to grow, you need to invest in an accounting package and maybe consider hiring accounting professionals for help.

There is a lot at stake. If you make a mistake, you could be setting yourself up for incorrect tax filings or penalties.

If you don’t have the time, and you know you’re out of your element, it’s time to outsource your accounting to a trusted team.

We would love to bear your accounting burden! Get in touch with us today!


Everything You Need to Know About DCAA Compliance and Government Approved Accounting

DCAA Compliance and Government Approved Accounting

Your success depends on meeting DCAA (Defense Contract Audit Agency) compliance regulations when working with the government.

Government contracting can be a challenge; when you’ve cleared one hurdle, another one awaits, like finding a government-approved accounting system.

If you want to win defense contracts, you’ll need a DCAA-compliant financial system. Moreover, you’ll learn that responding to proposals without a DCAA compliant accounting system is impossible in some cases.

At Team 80, we ensure small business owners entering the SBIR/STTR program have an accounting system compliant with Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and Defense Contract Auditing Agency (DCAA). If you’re one of those small business owners, this blog is for you.

“Accounting is hard enough without the government as your “partner.” That’s why government contractors should look for an accounting system that already strikes the right balance between ease of use and powerful capabilities.”
 – Sarah Sinicki, Director of Business Development, Team 80

Compare our Prices and Expertise Today.

When creating and pitching a dynamic SBIR proposal, it’s easy to overlook crucial details, like proving you can accurately (and quickly) show how you used their funds. The federal agency you’re working with needs to understand you have an approved system in place before they give you an award. They also want to feel confident you won’t misuse taxpayer dollars or engage in billing fraud (inadvertently or by design).

So, here’s what you’ll need to do: find a DCAA-compliant accounting system.

The government wants you to have an approved accounting system before giving you an SBIR or STTR contract. You also must comply with Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR). You should familiarize yourself with FAR’s guidebook to learn more about what you can do to ensure everything runs smoothly before the DCAA shows up.

Worker sitting at table next to laptop with DCCA DCAA compliance Paperwork

What is the DCAA?

The Defense Contract Audit Agency is a federal agency under the Department of Defense (DoD); they’re “stewards of taxpayer dollars.” The DCAA delivers high-quality contract audits and services to ensure taxpayers and the military get what they pay for at a reasonable price. Their mission has remained the same since 1965.

In 2019, the DCAA examined nearly $365 billion in DoD contractor costs. Their audits saved taxpayers roughly $3.7 billion. The savings go back into the DoD’s pockets for essential military operations, or the government returns the excess cash to the Treasury.

The DCAA is primarily responsible for DoD contracts. However, they’re also often brought in by other federal agencies (like Nasa and the Department of Energy) for contract audits and financial services.

You’ll have the DCAA knocking on your door if a government agency, the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA), for example, requests the DCAAs help with an audit.

If you’re not DCAA-compliant, you’ll be answering their call. And that’s not something you want.

What is DCAA compliance?

When you’re DCAA compliant, you’re following their rules, recommendations, and best practices. If that sounds simple, it’s because it is! So stay on top of your record keeping, and use DCAA compliant accounting systems that’ll pass their audits, and you’re off to the races.

Here are some tips to help you stay DCAA compliant:

  • Establish and document your policies
  • Use a DCAA compliant system capable of tracking multiple cost categories separately
  • Make sure your timekeeping records and cost-accounting are fully integrated
  • Keep detailed records, and make sure your documents are easily accessible for the eventual audit

*You should note that the DCAA won’t give you a certificate of compliance.

What is the DCAA Pre-Award Survey?

Man in white shirt with a approved stamper

The DCAA conducts pre-award surveys when they’re about to award your small business with a government contract. You shouldn’t confuse the survey with an audit. The survey is simple; it’s an evaluation of your accounting system, and it validates your ability to carry out the government contract tasks.

If you meet the DCAA’s accounting system requirements, and you’re ready to see the contract through financially, you’ll pass. In order to give yourself the best chance of securing a contract, we suggest that you use the pre-award accounting system adequacy checklist. It’ll help you stay compliant and ready for a DCAA

What happens during a DCAA audit?

You shouldn’t fear a DCAA audit, though you should prepare yourself for that eventuality. During an audit, the DCAA will determine if your accounting system adheres to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). They’ll check to ensure you’re recording expenses when you provide a service. Small businesses usually have to overhaul their accounting and record-keeping procedures to comply with GAAP. (If we’ve already sold you on avoiding that headache, let’s talk about how we can help.)

According to the DCAA’s Form 1408 checklist, your accounting system must:

  • Properly segregate direct costs from indirect costs.
  • Correctly identify and accumulate direct costs by contract.
  • Have a logical and consistent method for allocating indirect costs to immediate and final objectives (a contract is considered a final cost objective).
  • Be able to accumulate the costs under a general ledger.
  • Have a timekeeping system that identifies employee’s labor by intermediate or final cost objectives.
  • Have a labor distribution system that charges direct and indirect labor to the appropriate cost objectives.
  • Determine costs charged to a contract through regular posting of books of account at least monthly.
  • Correctly identify, exclude, track allowable costs based on FAR 31 unallowable expenses.
  • Identify costs by contract line item (CLIN).
  • Segregate preproduction costs from production costs.

You’ll probably make it through an audit if your accounting system checks every box on this list. And if you’re feeling uneasy, it’s okay; the DCAA wants you to succeed, so they provide audit process overviews and let you see the checklists auditors use for assessments.

What accounting software is DCAA compliant?

Here’s a mind-bending truth. There’s no DCAA approved software, but there is software optimized for DCAA compliance. DCAA compliant software can include any commercial accounting package capable of tracking job costs. For example, Quickbooks provides accurate data, process flows, and reports that you’ll find helpful during an audit.

Still, your comprehensive, government approved accounting system is only one-half of the battle. Your accounting package is only as reliable as your information. In addition, you must establish policies and procedures for routine finance documentation.

And compliance is eternal. Once your software is compliant, it must remain compliant. With the help of a qualified accounting team (like Team 80), you can feel confident that you meet and exceed regulatory requirements.

You should let Team 80 manage your government-approved accounting needs. Here’s why:

You didn’t start your small business to manage tedious accounting tasks. Instead, we want to help you stay focused on researching and developing your SBIR program passion project. That’s why we offer affordable, turn-key accounting services – so you can stay focused on what matters most to your business.

“Federal accounting regulations are complex and ever-changing, both in their wording and how government auditors choose to interpret and enforce them. Team 80 can help you prosper in this challenging environment. When you’re serious about doing business with the federal government, you need an equally serious accounting partner.” – Sarah Sinicki, Director of Business Development, Team 80

We’ve been doing this for more than 20 years. We’ll ensure your system is DCAA compliant – today and into the future.


Indian American Small Business Man working on laptop at desk

8 Easy Accounting Tips to Help Small Businesses Maintain Their Books

Accounting is the language of business. Understanding that language is an essential part of keeping your small business alive.

Being a small business owner isn’t easy. And neither is being an unofficial accountant.

With the hectic day-to-day operations of running your business, how can you possibly make time to learn bookkeeping? The idea of sifting through endless stacks of financial documents and ledgers sounds overwhelming.

Still, you understand the importance of not letting your accounting fall behind. Because maintaining accurate financial records is vital to the health of your business.

That’s why you’re asking Google questions like, “how do small businesses maintain accounts?”

These simple accounting tips will help you and your labor of love succeed!

8 Easy Small Business Accounting Tips

  1. Invest in an accounting system
  2. Keep business and personal expenses separate
  3. Don't wait until the end of the year to do your accounting.
  4. Meet with your CPA throughout the year.
  5. Look at your financial statements monthly.
  6. You need to understand your cash flow.
  7. Create a budget.
  8. You should hire a professional.

1. Invest in an Accounting System small business owner using laptop at desk looking at accounting software

Small business owners with no accounting experience need a reliable accounting system because that system is often the difference between success and failure.

Many affordable options will simplify data and organize your financial information to track expenses, income, and other activities easily. Xero, Quickbooks, Intuit, and Wave Financial, are just a few of them. You can even link your bank and credit card accounts directly to the software.

An accounting system makes your life easier and helps you to focus on business growth.

2. Keep Business and Personal Expenses Separate

New entrepreneurs often dip into their personal bank accounts in the early stages of business development. The practice of intermingling expenses can be problematic for many reasons.

Here are some of those reasons:Women Owner of a Small Business sitting at desk organizing business and personal expenses

  • Personal and legal liability
  • Tax implications
  • Audit trail issues
  • Bookkeeping problems

You can avoid these issues by opening a business bank account and establishing separate credit card accounts. Keeping personal and business accounts separate also improves your business credit score, helping you secure better business loans and reduce business insurance costs.

Run all business expenses through the business, and pay all personal expenses from a personal account. Trust me, your CPA will thank you at the end of the year. You don't want to spend lots of extra money untangling combined finances.” - Sarah Sinicki, Director of Business Development, Team 80 Small Business Accounting and Bookkeeping

3. Don't Wait Until the End of the Year to do Your Accounting

Do you remember January’s expenses when you wrap up accounting in December? You probably don’t.

Male Small Business Owner working on end of year accounting his laptopBusiness owners will too often make the mistake of waiting until the last minute to start thinking about their accounting. And they usually suffer from financial troubles as a result because waiting can cause significant issues.

You can handle most finances monthly.

Taking control of your finances and keeping bank reconciliations up-to-date monthly saves you from frantically scrambling at year’s end. We suggest you set a schedule so that you are touching financials monthly.

Well-managed finances close the door to preventable errors.

4. Meet with your CPA throughout the year.

You should meet with your CPA to review your books no less than twice yearly to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.black man cpa meeting woman small business owner

Meeting at least twice a year also helps your CPA understand your business. The person handling your finances should know your company inside and out.

Be proactive. If you meet with your CPA at least twice a year, they’ll have time to review your finances, uncover missed details, and devise effective strategies that you can implement to help your business before the deadline.

Don't wait until tax time; it could already be too late.

5. Look at your financial statements monthly.

We can’t overstate the importance of understanding the real-time financial health of your business.

Black Eyeglasses Calculator and Pen sitting on paper financial statementUnderstanding your financial statements helps you discover where your business stands today and where it’s headed. It’s also an excellent way to learn if operations are running smoothly.

It's also essential to always understand your profit margins and net income. Generating a monthly profit and loss report and reviewing revenue and expenses is a best practice we advise.

Never neglect your balance sheet since it shows your cash balance, outstanding accounts receivable, and all other assets and liabilities. Your balance sheet is a current snapshot of your business’s financial health; use it, love it.

When you stay on top of your financial statements, you’re empowered to make timely strategic business decisions. These decisions can help business thrive today and into the future.

6. You need to understand your cash flow.

Small business owners that don’t track cash flow are on the fast path to becoming former small business owners.

You must understand and optimize your cash flow because cash flow measures the real-time movement of dollars in and out of your business.male small business owner sitting at desk looking at laptop with calculator and financial statements on desk with 3 employees in the background

Your cash flow is positive when there’s enough money in your business account to pay bills. If cash is rapidly dwindling, you could have a severe problem.

Cash flow visibility helps you grow operations strategically. You can start by monitoring and documenting your incoming and outgoing funds using your accounting system.

You should also prepare a cash flow projection looking two to three months out to avoid surprises. If there are cash flow constraints, it’s time to leverage a business line of credit.

7. Create a budget.

You can use your financial statement and cash flow information to create a budget aligned with your business’s economic trajectory.

concentrated female business owner holding pen working on accoutningEvery entrepreneur should develop a budget. It’s an essential tool for financial tracking, especially for smaller businesses with limited funds that can benefit from operating within their means. A realistic budget can also help you understand the appropriate actions to take when problems arise.

Budgets help you anticipate future needs like repairs, expansions, and improvements without relying on credit. Accurate budget forecasting can also help you plan for staff hires and product and service investments and establish earnings and sales goals.

Even a poorly executed budget plan is better than no plan at all. Take some time and plan out what you think your revenue and expenses for the upcoming year will be. Then compare the budget to the actuals monthly. The variances in these numbers can give you some great insight.” - Sarah Sinicki, Team 80

8. You should hire a professional.

It is okay to admit when you’re in over your head - it’s also understandable. You didn’t launch a small business to become a full-time accountant.  black accounting manager-shaking-hands-with-successful-small business owner

You started your business because you’re passionate about your offering, and you want to provide customers with exceptional products and services.

You should focus on growing your business and serving your customers. And that’s not possible when you’re mired in book balancing, payroll management, financial forecasting, and tracking your accounts payable and receivable.

We want to do this work for you. Get in touch with us today!


Clients Fustrated with thier Bookkeepers Balance Sheets

15 Signs You Have a Bad Bookkeeper

You took an enormous risk starting a small business. Are you letting a lousy bookkeeper put it in jeopardy?

As a small business owner, the fear of failure is always in the back of your mind. When combined with the stress of financial management, that fear can turn into pure dread.

You’re an expert in your chosen field—you shouldn’t have to be an expert at balancing books, payroll, and forecasting, too.

And since you’re on top of things and aware, you’ve wisely outsourced your bookkeeping.

But have you hired a skilled bookkeeper?road warning sign with text risk in front of storm cloud background

The last thing you need is an outsourced accountant tanking your trust and dreams.

We’ve pulled together a list of red flags and warning signs to help you determine what kind of bookkeeper you’ve hired.

  1. Your Bookkeeper is Constantly Out of Reach

    As a small business owner, you need answers to finance-specific questions. And you need those answers fast. When your bookkeeper doesn’t return your phone calls or emails, it’s a significant problem.

    Trust is essential when it comes to outsourced bookkeeping.

    If you notice long stretches between replies from your bookkeeper, it’s time to ask why. There could be many reasons for the communication lapse. The bookkeeper might be overwhelmed or lacking communication skills. Or, it could be more serious.

    Maybe they don’t care?

    You need to set ground rules (if you haven’t already) and communicate your expectations around acceptable communication timelines

  2. They’re Constantly Behind on the Books

    It’s easy to lose track of finances when your bookkeeper is continuously behind on the books. You might start making fatal errors like spending more than the business earns.

    If your books are behind, then your business is behind. Growth is almost impossible when you’re regularly playing catch-up.

    You must set deadlines to ensure that your bookkeeper is on track if you want your small business to thrive.

  3. Your Bookkeeper is Panicked

    Tax filing might give you a panic attack, but it should be second nature to your bookkeeper. The accountant should remain calm, relaxed, and collected under every circumstance.Panicked and Overwhelmed Booker

    If managing tax documents, payroll information, and quarterly payments to prepare for tax prep causes your bookkeeper to become frazzled, you have a severe problem.

    A panicked accountant is a business threat.

    Their panic could indicate inexperience. And the last thing you want is a bookkeeper who is in over their head

  4. They Never Approach You With Ideas

    You’re so swamped with everyday business operations that you might be neglecting growth opportunities.

    Your bookkeeper should have a deep understanding of your day-to-day financials. They should also provide you with helpful feedback. Should you lower costs or increase revenue? A great bookkeeper will have the answers.

    If they aren’t coming to you with ideas and solutions to help push your company to the next level, ask them why.

  5. They Don’t Understand the Basic Terminology

    This one seems like a no-brainer, but many bookkeepers don’t have the slightest clue when it comes to basic accounting terminology.

    It’s not your responsibility to explain what cash vs. accrual means or the definition of accounts receivable.

    If your accountant doesn’t know the term “reconciliations,” run away!

  6. They Don’t Understand the Reports

    Your books are crucial for recording financial transactions and activities like sales, purchases, earnings, payments, etc. Recorded data allows you to determine monthly/annual revenue and anticipate and calculate payroll and tax payments.

    If your bookkeeper doesn’t understand your reports, accounts can be overdrawn, and you might find yourself in hot water with the IRS.

    Nobody wants an IRS audit.

    Failing to keep-up with numbers leaves you without a grasp of the money coming in and out of your business.

  7. They Constantly Pass Blame or Make Excuses

    It can drive you crazy. Your outsourced bookkeeper dropped the ball, and rather than getting a simple explanation, they make excuses and shift responsibility.

    Managing failure and disappointment is natural. But, there is a thin line between explanation and excuse, and the latter only delays the solution and blocks progress.

    As a business owner, you require a bookkeeper who can take accountability and execute a proper response to any mistake. A competent bookkeeper will be able to address an error and take control in making it correct.

  8. They Don’t Understand Reconciliation


    Proper bank statement reconciliation is crucial for every small business.

    When your numbers are off and discrepancies pop-up, your bookkeeper probably isn’t performing reconciliations regularly - or at all.

    Critical errors could go undetected if nobody verifies that your balance sheet transactions correspond with general ledger transactions.

    Improper reconciliation makes you susceptible to fraud, costly bank errors, and unauthorized withdrawals.

  9. Your Accountant Doesn’t Ask Questions

    Your outsourced bookkeeper must understand how your company operates to identify cost-cutting opportunities. They also need to ask questions to have this understanding.

    If your bookkeeper is afraid to ask questions out of the fear of appearing unqualified or inexperienced, they’re letting ego get in the way of good business tactics.

  10. They’re Unable To Provide Answers To Their Work

    You’ve noticed bounced checks. And this morning, you saw old transactions in your Quickbooks undeposited funds windows! What is going on?

    Your accounts probably aren’t managed regularly or adequately reconciled by your outsourced bookkeeper.

    When you ask your bookkeeper what’s happening, they can’t provide answers or insight.

    Minor mistakes are inevitable, but a good bookkeeper is willing to go over routine tasks with you to establish what went wrong.

  11. They Don’t Let You See the Books or Give You Access to Your Accounting System

    Is your bookkeeper holding your records hostage? Is looking at your data like pulling teeth?

    With today’s cloud-based accounting software, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have complete data access.

    Put your foot down. Tell your accountant you want shared-access to the books. If they are reluctant to share that access with you, it’s time to work with someone who will.

  12. They Don’t Understand Balance Sheets

    The business has gone up, but your cash balance doesn’t reflect the increases. Where is that cash? The answer should be on your balance sheet.

    Not everyone knows what to look for on their balance sheet or profit and loss statement. Still, an experienced bookkeeper will analyze the assets, liabilities, and equities data.

    Your balance sheet is a snapshot of your business’ financial health. If you have any trouble identifying cash-flow problems, it might be time to seek another bookkeeper.

  13. Coding Inconsistencies

    Incorrect and inconsistent coding can take hours to rectify and cost your company thousands; it’s usually an honest mistake.

    But entering incorrect accounting codes is a significant problem. Coding helps classify, record, and group all your transactions.

    Wrong accounting codes can cause you to miss out on tax savings. Incorrect coding might also impact tax claims. In extreme circumstances, it can indicate your bookkeeper is stealing money. Either way, misclassifications can land you in hot water.

  14. Your Accountant Is Patronizing

    The person handling your finances must be the expert. But do you need that experience and expertise delivered with condescension?Patronizing Accountant on Phone with Client

    Nobody likes being talked down to - the behavior isn’t conducive to a productive workplace. You wouldn’t let your staff treat you poorly, so why let your bookkeeper get away with it?

    Be open with your bookkeeper. Let them know the terms with which you are comfortable speaking. You shouldn’t feel belittled because you aren’t up on the latest financial jargon.

  15. Your Bookkeeper is Controlling

    Have you noticed that your bookkeeper wants complete, unsupervised control of your business’ financial management? If so, it’s time to start investigating why.

    As we’ve already mentioned, trust is critical. When a bookkeeper wants to take control of everything inexplicably, your confidence can be a little shaken.

    Handing over unsupervised access to your bookkeeper is like running your company blind. Some bookkeepers wind up stealing from a business because the business owners made it easy.

    Your bookkeeper should be a business partner. You can avoid theft and mismanagement through collaboration.

If you’re feeling uncertain about your bookkeeper, it may already be too late!

Is it time to find a new accounting team? Team 80 offers full transparency, and we might save you money. Call us today!