Why slashie workers really need bookkeepers

Around 1.3 million people are now ‘gig economy’ workers, according to a recent report by the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development) and the number of people doing two jobs or more is set to grow in the next decade, as the likes of Uber, City Sprint and Task Rabbit become ever more popular.

We speak with the experts to find out the main benefits to these so-called ‘slashie’ workers in using bookkeepers to keep on top of things.

Paula Rutter, an AAT qualified bookkeeper, finance director’s assistant and restaurant worker, says “slashie” workers (i.e. people that work two jobs or more) should definitely enlist the help of a bookkeeper. “Busy lifestyles and working unsociable hours does not leave much time to spend with family. So why would anyone want to spend their precious spare hours sitting [and] looking at a mound of paperwork that has spiralled out of control with no idea where to start?” she asks. “They might be so busy doing multiple tasks that to them, trying to brain scramble a pile of invoices is not a priority and this is where they then run the risk of late fines.”

Melanie Power, head of bookkeeping at Xerox, says bookkeepers can actually help pass on their skills to slashie workers. “Gig economy workers are often working two jobs to help substantiate their lifestyle so another expense, such as hiring a bookkeeper, can feel like a loss when you’ve managed so long without one,” she notes. “However, the time saved by calling on a bookkeeper is of huge benefit, particularly when holding down multiple jobs. The services of using a bookkeeper is not only to just to do the bookkeeping, but if you wish they can also setup systems that train you to do your own.”

Qualified bookkeepers can also create specially tailored packages for gig economy workers. “With small amounts of hours going to different jobs, slashie workers might not get the best out of an hourly paid bookkeeper. Feeding in data to fit in with the allotted time you have with your bookkeeper simply isn’t an efficient way of working,” Power notes. “Instead, working with them to create a bespoke package will allow a bookkeeper to not only save their own time and provide a better service, but a better business turnover can be made. The more you produce of something the less it costs to produce!”

Having a number of gig economy workers on their books could actually be a great opportunity for newly qualified bookkeepers to gain experience and learn too, Power says. “This way, workers get a cost effective service and new bookkeepers earn experience for when they come onto bigger accounts, so it’s a win-win situation. The only thing worth remembering for new bookkeepers is to have a mentor or a colleague you can work closely with in your beginner months to ensure you’re using best practice.”

Stephen Levine, owner of Elbess bookkeeping, says many self-employed people would probably really appreciate using a bookkeeper but think they probably can’t justify the cost. “It comes down to the perceived value from the customer and depends on how much they value their time,’ he notes. “In a low earning sector, they perceive their time as inexpensive even as their free time diminishes and may never reach the point where the value exceeds to cost.”

Most self-employed people work very hard. “A bookkeeper is an experienced professional who will free up time ensuring work is completed to a high standard in a timely manner on a regular basis.  A good one can also bring insight into the business,” says Levine.

Wayne Doran, director at Humanforce and Time Target workforce planning firms, says the role of the bookkeeper has evolved over the last few years and is set to develop even more with the growth of the gig economy in the next decade. “Many bookkeeping systems now integrate seamlessly, meaning that the bookkeeper can use their specialist knowledge and work on keeping their clients up to date and compliant rather than the traditional data entry types of work,” he notes. “Changing technology will enable the gig economy to balance out the rights of the worker and the flexible labour businesses need. The workforce is changing as well and the idea of a permanent job being required to provide job security is not as desirable to incoming millennials,” says Doran.

So, maybe the question should not be whether you can afford to hire a bookkeeper but whether you can afford not to.

Georgina Fuller is an award winning freelance journalist and editor.

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