Is a career as a bookkeeper right for you?
The recording of financial information and tracking of assets and liabilities is an ancient profession. There are records of bookkeeping using tokens in ancient Mesopotamia dating back more than 7,000 years, while 5,000-6,000 years ago in ancient Iran, clay tokens were used to track finances. It has even been suggested that a 76,000 year old engraved ocher plaque found in South Africa might have been used to count or store information (See Wikipedia). Modern bookkeeping is a specialised and highly developed subset of accountancy but it can be traced directly back to these ancient practices that were a huge cognitive leap forward for humanity and have made our modern society possible.
Right now you’re probably excited by the prospect of joining this ancient and respected profession! Read on.
Must love numbers
It probably goes without saying, but bookkeepers spend a lot of time working with numbers. Recording, reading, moving, writing, multiplying, subtracting, adding, dividing – you’ll spend most of your time working with numbers so loving (or at least enjoying) them is definitely a prerequisite for this profession. It makes sense – if you enjoy it you’ll have a happier day and will be more likely to be great at your profession than someone who feels compelled to do it because they have to. If you dislike math, calculations, figures and working with calculators and computers, this is not the profession for you.
Organised and thorough
When working with large sums of money, it pays (literally!) to be extremely organised and have a high attention to detail. Missed a decimal point? Suddenly you’ll be sending out a payment for $10,000 instead of $100.00. Keeping and maintaining documentation is also extremely important. Misplace those receipts and not only might you be losing money, suddenly the tax office could be asking you all sorts of uncomfortable questions and slap you with a whopping fine. Being methodical and managing paperwork are attributes important to be an excellent ‘number cruncher’ in any age.
To be a good bookkeeper you should also have an analytical mind – the kind of person who can take information, critically review it and find the meaning behind it. Data without the ability to interpret and apply it is useless. Not only should you be able to decipher what has happened to your business, you must also be able to use the data to look ahead to what you should be doing in the future. How much money you’ll need for that expansion, whether you can pay for a new loan, how much working capital you need to keep on hand are all important considerations for businesses.
Bookkeeping is a time sensitive business. You need to keep financial records up to date but it’s also important to review and report information. There are also many hard deadlines throughout the year where action items have to be completed. End of financial year duties like stock takes and the deadline for tax returns are two of the most important days in your year as a bookkeeper. Messing either of these up can cost you money in fines and other costs.
Most of the bookkeeping duties you’ll be doing will be taking place on computers and increasingly on mobile devices like tablets and phones. Being comfortable using technology is a massive boon for your career as a bookkeeper. If you’ve got the skills to do software installations, configurations and conversions, you’ll have a big advantage over the less technologically proficient. Troubleshooting problems is even more important than setting up software. These is nothing worse than losing data because of technical malfunctions.
If you’re up to the challenge, enroll in a bookkeeping course today!
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