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I’m writing this from the plane—35,000 feet high, on a Delta flight from Detroit to Tampa—and my clients have no idea that I’m going to be gone for 11 days. Why not, you ask? The answer is this: online bookkeeping.
This post isn’t about the different options for online accounting software; I’m going to talk to you about why choosing to do online bookkeeping is the best option for any small business.
Let’s take a look at the how of online bookkeeping.
At my bookkeeping company, Kildal Services LLC, we’ve been doing remote or online bookkeeping since the fall of 2008. In that time, we’ve tried just about every option: remote login, hosting, and web-based apps.
We’ve found that the ideal setup for providing online bookkeeping services is to use a web-based accounting solution whenever possible and a desktop solution that is hosted on a remote server as the second choice if we can’t get the features the client needs with an online option.
We use apps like InvoiceSherpa, Bill.com, Knowify and Hubdoc to service our clients and automate as many tasks as we can—this helps improve accuracy, provides separation of duties and better security, and increases productivity for us and our clients.
Now let’s look at the why of online bookkeeping, from a bookkeeper’s (me!) point of view.
1. Access: When I first started Kildal Services, I used to go out to each client’s office. This was cumbersome for a number of reasons. I had to schedule appointments when it was convenient for the clients, I had to spend driving time to and from each site, and I could only help clients if I was physically at their office.
Because we only do online bookkeeping now, I always have access—I can help my clients anytime. As long as I have an internet connection, I can work when it’s convenient for me: on a plane, at the beach, or in the pickup line after school. Most importantly, I can work when it’s most convenient for them and help out in case of an emergency or last minute request.
2. Security: I don’t have to worry about my clients not putting an admin password on their QuickBooks file or even one to start up their computers. Each user for any online accounting system needs a specific username and password, and these days, all users have to go through multi-factor authentication to verify their identity when they log in through a new computer.
I can also use audit logs to see what users are doing, from logging in to editing contact information. I’m less worried about security than ever before and have more transparency into what is happening in any of my clients’ books.
3. Efficiency: With the magic that is a bank feed, and the wonderful selection of apps that connect to SaaS accounting programs, online bookkeeping has become so much more efficient in the last 5-8 years. Manual entry has been greatly reduced, as well as errors in data entry. The app ecosystem that surrounds most of the top accounting programs changes the game completely. Be sure to ask your bookkeeper about them!
All of this means we can service twice as many clients via online bookkeeping in the same amount of time that it used to take to do all of it on site—without losing any quality of customer service or productivity.
Now, let’s talk more about what this means from the perspective of the small business. In this case, I asked Richard Roppa-Roberts, owner of Quasar Cowboy Consulting, what the biggest benefits of online bookkeeping are for him. This is what he told me:
1. Collaboration: “I love being able to say, ‘I need this’, then my bookkeeper replies with: ‘Done!’ instead of ‘Can we find a time to log in?’ That’s what I used to see when I worked as an employee for other companies.”
You get access to your bookkeeper pretty much whenever you want it, which is incredibly helpful if you have an emergency, a last-minute need, or just a quick question you need answered. Without online bookkeeping, you might assume a question is too small or stupid to ask, and not realize that it could majorly affect your financials.
2. Backup: “I don’t have to worry about backing up my financial records,” Richard says.
Because he’s doing online bookkeeping, he knows that the accounting program he’s using is always backed up. He doesn’t have to worry about a hard drive failure or remembering to do a back up, because it just happens. And as a business owner, the less you have to worry about, the better!
3. Access: “I can invoice in the field. I can take payments in the field. I get alerts when people pay. And I can see if invoices have been opened,” Richard tells me. “The ability to do this anywhere I can get online has been life changing.”
As a business owner taking advantage of online bookkeeping, you’ll always know what is going on with your finances, helping take out some of the stress of running a business. Cash flow is the backbone of every business—now you’ll have a better handle on it!
For small business owners, your bookkeeping needs boil down to having up-to-date numbers for making smart decisions about your business and being proactive instead of reactive. You want to know your numbers inside and out—online bookkeeping can make this happen.
When it comes down to it, online bookkeeping has many benefits for both the small business owner and the accounting professional—collaboration, up-to-date records, security, accuracy, productivity, and more. If you don’t already manage your books online, call your bookkeeper or accountant today.