Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions.

by : 
Kim Perkins
June 1, 2013

Question: My store has been open three years. it has been a long road, but I feel we are finally out of the woods and making some money so I can take a paycheck. One area where I am still behind the eight ball is paperwork. My inbox overflows with paper, including invoices that need to be paid. Sometimes we have plenty of money, but the bills are late because I just can’t get to it. Truthfully, I also don’t really like paperwork. Should I hire a bookkeeper?

Answer: Yes—and the sooner the better! There is no shame in not liking paperwork and bookkeeping, but you do need to hire someone trustworthy right away. Not only do you need to pay your bills on time to continue enjoying good relations with your vendors, you also need to be able to assess your cash flow needs. You can’t do that if you don’t have the information in a usable form.

Having a bookkeeper who keeps your paperwork and payables current can help you see the big financial picture, as well as the obligations (e.g., vendor invoices, payroll, occupancy costs, taxes) you need to meet over the next 30 to 60 days. This person can provide you with weekly reports on sales and payables so you always have a bead on where you stand financially. One word of caution: You should still review and sign each check and make sure the bank correspondence comes directly to you. For your protection, no employee or outside bookkeeper should be both a signer on your account and balancing your bank statements.

Kim Perkins is co-owner of Elysian Fields Books & Gifts for Conscious Living (, an award-winning store in Sarasota, Fla. Send your retail questions to