John (and others),
While not a regular poster to this site, I came across this discussion and thought I'd weigh in on John's question about the costs of bookkeeping, since this is an area I have experience in. That said, I have to disclaim that I run a firm that provides entrepreneurs access to flexible accounting resources....including bookkeeping services.
So, in response to John's comments:
1. $100/hr for bookkeeping is far too high. So is $60/hr. I'm hoping that your accountant and other builders may have thought you needed something more than just bookkeeping and maybe more like a Controller. A Controller is performing a more sophisticated role that often requires a strong understanding of Generally Accepted Accounting Principals, uses high-level financial reporting and analytical skills, and often complex accounting systems.
2. You're correct that bookkeeping is not a highly technical nor specialized function. In fact, it's more akin to data entry. So you should not pay equivalent rates like you would to a CPA, attorney, or another professional with deep technical experience.
A few of additional thoughts and opinions (for what it's worth):
1. There is huge volatility in the quality level of bookkeepers. Because most bookkeepers are self-employed or contractors there are hidden gems and then there are some real stinkers. Make sure you perform solid due-diligence on these individuals as they'll often have access to all of your business assets (bank accounts, credit cards, etc) and the instances of fraud in small businesses occur far more frequently than the large company scandals that we read about on the pages of the Wall Street Journal.
2. Because the question about costs was framed up in a rate per hour context, I'll initially respond that I'd seek to be paying around $20 - $40/hour for bookkeeping. That said, when you're paying for a largely transactional/data entry role, I believe an hourly rate model has misaligned incentives. That bookkeeper will not be incented to work efficiently or use automation tools if they can make more income by being slower and more manual. I think bookkeeping can be done on a fixed price basis.
3. This view will likely make me unpopular with some people posting here, but I do not think your tax preparer should also be your bookkeeper. Tax preparation, planning, and strategy is a specialized skill that requires technical expertise and, therefore, you should be prepared to pay more than you would for bookkeeping. Not only that, your books should be accounted for with an eye toward producing financial information for you as the owner, your investors, or your lenders...and not just to make filing tax returns easiest for your CPA.
Thanks for letting me post here and I hope that my comments may prove helpful to some of you. Also, thanks for being patient with my long post....I'm passionate about helping entrepreneurs with their accounting function so I can get a bit carried away! :)