If you’re interested in investing in bookkeeping services for your business, there are plenty of options to choose from. Will you hire a bookkeeper or opt for accounting software? Should you outsource your bookkeeper or build a small accounting department within your company?
If you’re on the hunt for a streamlined bookkeeping solution, we’re here to help. Here’s what to look for in your bookkeeping solution.
Are bookkeeping services right for me?
As a small business owner, you’ll find that many decisions you make are informed by your bottom line. Most small businesses operate on precise margins, with plenty of business expenses to contend with.
They don’t have the cushion of investors’ finances or the pocketbook of a huge corporation to fall back on. So when it comes to necessary business services, such as bookkeeping, small business owners often opt to do it themselves. This business decision can have long-standing consequences if done incorrectly.
While DIY bookkeeping can certainly be cost-effective upfront, in many cases it can cost a lot in the long run. Do you have time to track your accounts receivable and accounts payable? Are you able to predict your cash flow in coming months? If not, inaccuracies may cause severe financial problems, affecting your overall bottom line.
Bookkeeping services are one of those cases. Outsourcing your bookkeeping to a professional bookkeeper, hiring a virtual bookkeeper, or investing in bookkeeping software like QuickBooks can provide a multitude of benefits. Streamlined bookkeeping services ensure your monthly financial statements are accurate, your bills are handled, and your team is paid on time, among many other benefits.
Additionally, the right bookkeeping service can free up valuable time. This allows you to focus on your business and work on building your bottom line. Additionally, investing in bookkeeping services can make your life a lot easier come tax season. Having the right information makes filing tax returns much easier and may help you remain in good standing with the IRS.
Understand your business needs
The first and most important step to choosing a bookkeeping solution is to understand your business needs. Before you start looking for any solutions, make a list of what you’re looking for. Use these questions to guide your brainstorming:
What bookkeeping services does my business regularly require?
This may include things like managing cash flow, preparing tax returns, tracking expenses, managing payroll, and more.
Which services do I need the most assistance with?
Perhaps you’re looking for an invoicing solution or you need help with payroll services. Take the time to really assess your financial needs. This can tell you how comprehensive your bookkeeping solution requirements are.
What is my level of understanding when it comes to bookkeeping?
If you don’t have key training in data entry, financial transactions, or payroll services, you may find DIY bookkeeping difficult to accomplish. In many cases, lack of understanding can lead to inaccuracies, which can topple a small business working on tight margins.
How much time do I currently spend on bookkeeping?
As a business owner, you likely juggle a variety of responsibilities. By outsourcing your bookkeeping needs, you can free up time to focus on the tasks that require your attention and build your bottom line strategically.
How much time am I willing to commit each week to bookkeeping?
The various tasks involved with streamlined accounting processes can be time-consuming, no matter the size of your business. Whether you’re running a 10-person startup or managing multiple departments across a 100-employee organization, accounting needs can be intense.
Next, prioritize your list into “need to have” and “nice to have.” Which services are essential to you, and which are simply desirable? If you can, ballpark how much you’re willing to spend on bookkeeping.
Can you quantify the cost of the time you currently put into bookkeeping? Use that number to guide how much you’re willing to pay for a solution that would simplify your process.
When exploring bookkeeping solutions, compare your list of needs to the services offered:
- Does it hit your “need to have” list?
- Does it include anything on your “nice to have” list?
- Does it fit within your budget?
These questions can help narrow your options to the top contenders, whether you’re considering hiring a bookkeeping company or tackling the job yourself with advanced online bookkeeping and accounting software.
Key components of a good bookkeeping service solution
As a small business owner, you’ve probably noticed that your business undergoes a lot more fluctuation than a larger corporation. Gaining or losing a new client or new employee can dramatically change the number of business expenses you’ll need to track.
That’s why it’s so important to find a bookkeeping solution that can adapt to the changes in your business. Invest in a solution that’s flexible and that will grow with you and your company. Do the basic services offered cover your accounting needs now? Are there additional services that may be added on for your needs a year, or five years, from now?
A flexible solution will not only adapt to your growing needs—it’ll also ensure you’re not paying for services you don’t use.
Access to support
Bookkeeping is a complex skill with real ramifications when done incorrectly. If you opt for a bookkeeping software, make sure there’s ample support behind it. Don’t pick a solution that simply hands you tools without any guidance.
Instead, choose a solution that offers real-life support. Make sure there’s a dedicated CPA professional you can look to for help—or even better, a real-time team! Additionally, make sure your dedicated help knows you and your business. Find a solution that will see you as more than a name on a list of accounts. A good support team will take the time to learn about your business to ensure your bookkeeping setup is optimized for your needs.
Here are a few solutions you may want to look for in your solution’s support:
- A dedicated bookkeeping firm that’s familiar with your industry
- Direct access to customer support via online chat or messaging
- The option to meet over phone or video chat
Ease of use is important, especially if you choose virtual bookkeeping solutions. The truth is that a bookkeeping software is only helpful if you use it. Online bookkeeping services may have the ability to revolutionize the way you handle financial data and tasks.
Therefore, it’s extremely important to choose a service that actually meets your business needs. How long will it take you to get up and running with this new bookkeeping solution? Chances are, if there’s a significant learning curve to financial data entry, you may not have the time to dedicate to it.
Be realistic about your capabilities and willingness to learn a new process. If you don’t consider yourself too computer-savvy, you may prefer a real-time bookkeeper. You might choose to connect with a professional bookkeeper to outsource your bookkeeping needs. It may cost a bit more, but some business owners will find that online bookkeeping services don’t suit their needs.
For most businesses, a universal bookkeeping service will do the trick. However, in some instances, you may need an industry-specific bookkeeping service.
For instance, if you own a nonprofit, you’ll likely have very different needs than a bookkeeper for retail businesses. It may be worthwhile to explore a bookkeeping solution that is tailored to your particular needs.
Note that an industry-specific solution can be more expensive than a one-size-fits-all solution. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad choice for your small business. Choosing an industry-specific solution may give you access to information and ideas pertaining to your bottom-line that you wouldn’t have thought of on your own. Plus, it can save you the headache of trying to jerry-rig generic solutions to suit your particular needs.
Whether you’re pursuing a real-life bookkeeper or virtual bookkeeping service, it’s imperative that you learn from other small-business owners’ experiences before making business decisions.
Ask around your professional circles for bookkeeping solutions that colleagues especially liked—or especially didn’t. If you don’t have others to ask, check out sites like Yelp and Angie’s List for reviews on brick-and-mortar establishments and outsourcing professionals.
Some websites for bookkeeping services will include reviews directly on them. While these reviews may be glowing and look promising, you should take them with a grain of salt. Businesses will cherry-pick their best reviews or request them from clients. So be sure to balance these out with unbiased reviews, too!
The best bookkeeping solutions give business owners peace of mind that their financial data is well-documented and help ensure their business taxes are done correctly.
Wondering whether QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping can help you? Discover how Live Bookkeeping works and learn how three business owners tidied up their finances with our bookkeepers.
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