3 Tips for When Your [insert family member here] Does Your Books

Ask any business owner; profit is the name of the game.  It is literally the bottom line.  Business 101: increase revenue and decrease expenses to get more profit.  First rule of business, we all know it.  We know it well.

So naturally, when [family member/friend] offers to do your books at a steep discount (or no fee at all), the entrepreneur in you is like, “Hell, ya!”  We know you are out there; yeah, I’m talking to you.  You just agreed to this!

Good. For. You.

Family and friends are a blessing and a curse – yes, I know you love them.  We all do!  We also fight with them, argue with them and get our buttons pushed by them like no one else.  It’s important to protect that relationship, to have some solid conflict resolution techniques and make sure that you still want to speak to each other at the end of the day.  

So here it is: 

  1. Write it down.  Simple right?  Let me clarify: write down exactly what they will do and what you will do before you start working together.  Have that discussion first.  Write it all down, make sure you both 1) understand and 2) agree to this collaboration.
  1. Talk it out.  How to approach questions and disagreements should be part of the first step, however, make sure you have a relationship that can withstand hard conversations.  They will happen.  You need to be able to put aside the “relationship” stuff – compartmentalize – and talk like an entrepreneur and professional service provider would if they weren’t related or friends.  You need to be able to talk it out.
  1. Skill it up.  Unless you are really lucky, the kind well-meant offer did not come from an actual bookkeeper; instead someone looking to help you out.  Maybe they’ve “done some bookkeeping” before, maybe they took a course in college ten or twenty or thirty years ago.  Maybe they just finished their QBO ProAdvisor certification.  Unless they are a Certified Bookkeeper (and sometimes even then), they will need to continue educating themselves on bookkeeping.  Include this in the agreement and understand that you should be supporting them in this, and they should agree to do it.  It benefits you both!  Win-win, right?

Down, out and up – remember at the end of the day, family first.  This person is important to you, more important than the books getting done.  Protect your relationship, talk about what they and you expect and agree to learn together.

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