People who start a new business expect it to be challenging — after all, the path of least resistance is working for someone else. Entrepreneurship demands a great deal from those who choose to be their own boss, including the imperative to deliver a great product or service, expand the customer base, manage hiring and firing, build vendor relationships and much more.
But one facet of business ownership that many aren’t prepared for is keeping the books. Larger companies typically turn to a CPA firm to manage their financial reporting, have finance staff to handle accounts and outsource payroll functions. But for smaller companies, the task of keeping the books and managing payroll often falls on business owners, which can keep them from focusing on more strategic tasks.
In the past, small business owners who found themselves in this situation could either keep on handling bookkeeping themselves, burden an office manager with it, or take on the expense of hiring an employee to handle the books. The latter option entailed finding someone locally with the right qualifications, hiring the bookkeeper and providing a workspace — an expensive process.
But today, business owners have another option: hiring a virtual bookkeeper. It’s no longer necessary to perform bookkeeping tasks like bank reconciliations, general ledger entries, managing accounts payable & receivable, creating financial statements and reporting onsite. And thanks to telepresence technology and collaboration software, virtual bookkeepers can function as full-fledged members of the team.
For smaller companies, payroll can be an incredibly onerous task that consumes time business owners and managers could better spend growing the company and satisfying customers. But it’s critically important to calculate payroll correctly and ensure that employees are paid on time. Some businesses choose to outsource payroll, but that can be expensive. A virtual bookkeeper can be a great alternative, handling all the calculations and recordkeeping associated with payroll.
Entering into a contract relationship with a virtual bookkeeper means the business owner doesn’t have to worry about providing a workspace, paying for benefits, funding unemployment insurance and the other expenses associated with bringing on an employee. Contract bookkeepers typically have their own hardware and commonly used bookkeeping software, so business owners who work with them don’t have to be concerned with purchasing and updating equipment either.
But what about finding the right fit? What about making sure the bookkeeper has the necessary qualifications? Even though a virtual bookkeeper won’t be under the same roof, he or she will work closely with the business owner and team. And it is critically important to make sure the bookkeeper is capable of accurately and confidentially handling company information.
To resolve these dilemmas, small business leaders are increasingly turning to trusted virtual staffing partners to handle the vetting and ensure that the virtual employee is a good cultural fit with their team. Business owners who decide to work with a virtual staffing company should look for a partner with a rigorous testing protocol to make sure the bookkeepers it hires are well qualified.
But to ensure an optimal level of service, business owners should also look for a virtual staffing partner who puts a premium on relationships. That means finding a company that interviews for good communication skills, assesses responsiveness to customer needs and continues to monitor the bookkeeper-business owner relationship on an ongoing basis to ensure long-term satisfaction.
With these elements in place, business owners can access the services of a qualified bookkeeping professional without taking on the expense and hassles of adding an employee. More importantly, they can receive the accurate financial information they need to make sound business decisions and get back to the full-time job of running their business. Virtual employees like remote bookkeepers can lighten the load — without breaking the bank.