Whether your business is growing quickly or you’re still at the planning stage, management of the company books is an important consideration. You may know your industry, your company, your plans for the future, but you may not know bookkeeping protocols, or even bookkeeping software.

Choosing and utilizing a bookkeeper to work closely with you delivers benefits and can enable you to focus on growing the company, not on crunching the daily numbers.

These 10 tips may help you select the right bookkeeper and develop a collaborative relationship that helps promote business growth.

1. Develop a list of bookkeeping needs. If you’re just starting out, or just starting to see company growth, costs are an important consideration. Do you need a professional bookkeeper to update daily sales records, or a tax accountant to prep your business’ quarterly filings? Do you need a full-time bookkeeper, or is this a job you could outsource? Outsourcing costs less, but your bookkeeper may have many other clients, making engagement more difficult.

Start by developing a job description for your company’s bookkeeper – in-house or outsourced. Balancing the books is just one possible chore. Who handles payroll? Bill payment? What can you do yourself without too much trouble?

Your job description should include a detailed list of what the company bookkeeper will do and when those tasks will be performed. This gives you a clearer picture of your objective – the right bookkeeper and a cooperative relationship with you and the management team.

2. Ask for referrals. Talk to vendors and sub-contractors, employees, customers – people you trust – about recommending the right bookkeeper for you. Chances are, these people know you, know your business, and know what to look for in a bookkeeper. A referral from a trusted source may reduce your search time and recruitment costs.

3. Communicate (a lot). Your relationship with the company bookkeeper should grow more solid over time as the bookkeeper takes on more responsibility. Talk to your bookkeeper often. Identify upcoming expenses or cash flow problems well in advance to enable your bookkeeper to account for these future events.

Get to know your company books. Don’t simply hand over bookkeeping activities and walk away. Keep an eye on the balance sheet. Ask for regular profit and loss statements. Let your bookkeeper know you’re involved. Schedule regular meetings to keep up to date.

4. Design a plan of operation. Once you’ve selected a bookkeeper, develop the logistics of easy communication and secure data storage. How will information be gathered, collated and analyzed? How will sensitive data be transferred and stored? What account permissions will the bookkeeper have? Full access? Read only? Once again, your company may get more when you and your bookkeeper work efficiently in cooperation.

5. Deliver the data your bookkeeper needs. Don’t keep your bookkeeper on the hook. Provide all the information needed in a timely manner so the books will be ready to meet both in-house and tax deadlines.

6. Ask for advice. Ask your bookkeeper for advice and information and encourage them to offer suggestions. Good advice from a professional, at no additional cost, is a great deal, so take advantage of their knowledge and experience.

7. Don’t mix personal and company bookkeeping activity. It gets confusing at tax time, it may run counter to federal or state regulations, and it may create bookkeeping problems. If you’re unsure, ask your bookkeeper.

8. Talk to your bank representative. Create an online banking account that you can access anytime, anywhere. Just check the books online, on your schedule. Your bank can help your business create bookkeeping efficiencies and help keep company resources secure. Create dual-identification accounts that require two signers on any bank activity. Programs like Positive Pay can automatically compare checks submitted for payment against a list of payees you provide.

9. Create a paper trail. Track every transaction end to end, and don’t assume your bookkeeper will “catch it.” Your company has responsibilities to adhere to regulations and tax law. Keeping complete, accurate records can not only take the fear out of an audit, but it may make it easier for you to back up any company claims. Make this clear to your company bookkeeper and check to make sure your books are complete and up-to-date.

10. Know when to get help. If bills aren’t being paid on time, if receivables are piling up, if you get regular requests for information from taxing agencies, it may be time to get more help. Add another bookkeeper, expand the hours of your outsourced bookkeeper, add a CPA or tax attorney to your list of resources – when the signs indicate you need more bookkeeping help, get it to keep the books current and in compliance.

Finally, stay on top of the bookkeeping activity, even if it’s not your strongest asset. As the owner of a small, growing business, you’re in the best position to determine the services you require, and to get the most from a helpful, collaborative relationship with the company bookkeeper.

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC