Dear Aunty B,
I hired a delightful woman as a bookkeeper. At the time I didn’t know her and I found her through an associate. But we have become very good friends and last year we even went camping together for a week over summer.
Anyway, the problem is she now won’t do what I tell her. Part of this is my fault because I run the business myself and when she joined I loved having someone to talk to about it. But now I feel she has crossed a line. So far it has been little things, like she refuses to move money into another month and won’t get me the accounts a few days early, etc.
But the other day I told her I was sacking a non-performing staff member and she told me to rethink it and that she wouldn’t process her final letter until I had “slept on it for a few days”.
She also told me that I should be giving staff members a bonus at Christmas (ie. her) while telling me that I spend too much money on marketing. She believes we should keep the business small so it is more manageable but I am very ambitious.
I feel like I have lost power to my bookkeeper but I still want to keep her as a family friend.
Well, you are a nong. What have I told you about personal friendships and business friendships? You keep them separate is what. And no, that doesn’t mean you can’t socialise with people from work. But you must always know that it is a business relationship first and foremost.
Ultimately, your responsibility is to your shareholders and stakeholders – not her. She is a bookkeeper. She will always see your business from her very narrow angle.
You are right to feel she has overstepped the line. Your bookkeeper is there to do your books not abuse your credit card or give you self-serving advice. She probably wants to keep the business small because it suits her. She has more control that way and gets to work fewer hours!
What you have to do is this: whenever she comes into your office talk only about the bookkeeping. Keep your time with her very limited and professional and don’t ask her advice or share with her anything that doesn’t directly concern her. If she insists on giving you advice then politely remind her that she should stick to bookkeeping. If she doesn’t get the message very quickly move her on. Tell her you are restructuring accounts and as the business is expanding, corporate governance is an issue and you need an accountant to take over more functions.
I am sure that once she has another job the friendship will continue!
Your Aunty B