2013-06-25 00:00:00Accountants and BookkeepersEnglishhttps://quickbooks.intuit.com/uk/resources/uk_qrc/uploads/2017/01/Working-from-home.jpghttps://quickbooks.intuit.com/uk/resources/accountants-and-bookkeepers/building-a-virtual-practice/Building a virtual practice

Building a virtual practice

4 min read

The Intuit ProCloud Partner Programme offers a package of benefits and support to help accounting professionals looking to work with their clients online. The ProCloud Partner Programme benefits are free to accountants and bookkeepers with at least one active QuickBooks Online client. Join now.
In today’s world of high-tech communications and increasing prices for commercial premises, more and more people are deciding to give up the office and work from home.

There are some major benefits, from avoiding the time and stress of the daily commute to gaining more quality time with your family and saving on traditional office costs. You will also be able to claim back a ‘reasonable amount’ to cover the cost of using a room/rooms at home for your business.

High-speed broadband and cloud tools mean working from a home base or on the move is now a realistic and increasingly popular choice for accountants and bookkeepers.

However, before you give notice on your business premises, there are a number of issues you should consider:

1. What kind of work can you do on a virtual basis?

Many of the accountancy services you now perform from the office can be done ‘virtually’ thanks to technology. Tax, compliance and bookkeeping services can all be carried out effectively from just about any location, especially with easy-to-access cloud services like QuickBooks Online.

However, before you take the plunge, think about your clients’ needs. Some people will prefer to meet up to discuss things face-to-face so it is worth investigating whether serviced office space is available for rent on a daily or hourly basis nearby.  Alternatively, you may be able to just agree to work at clients’ offices from time to time if necessary.

2. What technology do you need?

Working from home requires more than a computer and a good internet connection. Look at the equipment you currently use, such as:

  • Desktop PCs
  • Laptops
  • Tablet devices
  • Scanners
  • Printers
  • Phone system
  • Comfortable desk
  • Ergonomic chair

Talking to an IT expert on a retained or ad-hoc basis can take the stress and uncertainty out of the IT side of things.

You will also need to research what cloud applications are available to store the data that you currently keep on your PC’s hard drive or company server. In addition, consider what technology your clients use and how they’ll share their information with you. With QuickBooks Online Accountant, it’s easy to collaborate with your clients and share real-time data.

3. How will you manage your work?

If you are a sole trader, you probably already have a practical set-up for managing your day-to-day and longer-term tasks. However, if you outsource jobs on a regular basis or have employees, you’ll need to review the way things get done to ensure a smooth transition into the world of virtual working.

Look at the way tasks are transferred between staff, clients and yourself, and consider what checks need to be carried out on a regular basis to ensure the process remains well-oiled and runs smoothly. Introducing project management software can lighten the load and reduce your stress levels.

4. What communication tools can you use?

Email and mobile phone contact are now the norm but there are other useful ways to stay in touch too.

Video calls are more widely used due to the affordable – and often free – applications that are available. Skype, Google Hangouts and FaceTime, for example, are brilliant for maintaining the face-to-face element with both your staff and your customers. Online tools such as Google Docs are also useful for staying productive and collaborating remotely.

Microsoft Communicator, or even Facebook messaging, can ensure you get quick answers from staff without having to call or email them.

Consider virtual receptionist services too, so if you are in a meeting or know you will be travelling and not contactable, you can divert incoming calls to a real person rather than an answer phone.

5. How will you talk to clients about the change?

It may take your clients – and even your staff – a bit of convincing, particularly if they have been used to a certain way of working for a long period of time. However, you can bring them around if you explain things to them clearly with regards to security, benefits and practicalities.

For example, explain the cost savings clients may be able to take advantage of due to you wasting less time and petrol money travelling between appointments.

If clients are resistant to the change, suggest they try it for a month – if they’re still unhappy, offer to refer them to another local QuickBooks expert or offer to do the work on-site at their premises. It’s unlikely you’ll lose many clients and if you do, you’ll have room for customers who are on the same wavelength as you regarding working methods and technology.

Deciding to move to a home-based office can bring a positive change to your working patterns, lifestyle and job satisfaction. Fortunately, the tools are now available to make it a truly realistic option.
The Intuit ProCloud Partner Programme offers a package of benefits and support to help accounting professionals looking to work with their clients online. The ProCloud Partner Programme benefits are free to accountants and bookkeepers with at least one active QuickBooks Online client. Join now.

[Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net]
Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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