If you recognize that your business has reached the point of needing a bookkeeper, you have two options: you can hire a local bookkeeper you can meet with in person, or you can hire a virtual bookkeeper. While outsourcing your bookkeeping to a virtual contractor is a fairly new concept, there are a number of benefits to doing so.
What is a Virtual Bookkeeper?
Before looking at the advantages a virtual bookkeeper offers, it is important to fully understand what one of these professionals is and what they do. There is no difference in skills or education between a virtual bookkeeper and one you meet with in person. They are full bookkeepers who have the education, knowledge, and training to do the job. They are experts in their field.
Virtual bookkeepers provide all of the same services that an in-person bookkeeper does. In fact, you may be able to find a virtual bookkeeper who is able to provide specialized services related to your specific industry. It may not be as easy to find such services in your local bookkeeper options.
The biggest difference between virtual and physical bookkeepers comes in their location and in how you communicate with them. Virtual bookkeepers can be anywhere around the country. You may, in fact, even find a great virtual bookkeeper who lives outside the U.S. As long as they are familiar with U.S. tax laws and other financial regulations, it truly does not matter where they live. Some virtual bookkeepers may even frequently travel between locations.
These travels will not impact a virtual bookkeeper’s ability to work or communicate with their clients. Instead of meeting at an office, you will communicate with your virtual bookkeeper over the phone, through email, or via online meeting. This may actually not be that different with how you would communicate with a physical bookkeeper. Most of your communication with them may be over the phone or email anyway—you may rarely visit their office. In that case, there is truly no difference between a virtual and a physical bookkeeper.
Why Work with a Virtual Bookkeeper?
If you are communicating with your bookkeeper primarily over the phone or email, why not look at the advantages of a full virtual bookkeeper? You may find that these advantages positively impact your budget, the work you receive from your bookkeeper, and your company’s future. Here are just a few of the things virtual bookkeeping has over traditional, in-person bookkeeping.
Finding a virtual bookkeeper is quite easy, too. All you have to do is go online and search for one. However, you will want to carefully check reviews before selecting one. You do not want to work with a bookkeeper who is less than reputable. You should also do some research into the company to determine if they have worked with businesses similar to yours and what kind of social media reputation they have. You can also use social media to ask for recommendations.
You Only Pay for the Work You Need
Most virtual bookkeepers offer a pay-as-you-go option. This flexibility means you only pay for the services or work you need done. You do not pay any retaining cost, nor do you have to pay any of the costs associated with hiring your own internal bookkeeper. With an employee, you would pay their salary, benefits, vacation pay, and other direct expenses as well as provide them with office space, equipment, and other tools. All of this can add up very quickly.
With a virtual bookkeeper, you only pay the agreed-upon service costs. You can add or remove services or dedicated hours of work as needed, allowing you to adjust your cost as you go. You may need your virtual bookkeeper more during certain parts of the year or during specific projects. For example, you may initially want a virtual bookkeeper to handle your accounts payable and receivable. Later, however, you determine you could also use their help in tracking orders and inventory. Simply contact your virtual bookkeeper and add these services.
Cloud Software and Sharing Makes it Easy for Your Virtual Bookkeeper to Access Information
One thing that may seem to work in favor of physical bookkeepers is that you can meet with them and bring them your physical receipts and other paperwork. However, take a look at your invoices and other paperwork. How much of it are you actually getting in a physical form? More and more vendors are cutting back on providing customers with paper receipts. Instead, they are emailing the paperwork or making it available via an online customer portal. You can download and print this paperwork if you want, but you do not need to.
With a virtual bookkeeper, you simply email these virtual receipts to them or copy them over onto a shared drive such as Dropbox, Google Docs, or Microsoft OneDrive. You can even give your virtual bookkeeper access to your online accounts so they can get these documents straight from the source.
By sharing these documents as you receive them, your bookkeeper is always up to date. This saves them a lot of time, especially around tax season. You do not need to take anything to them. If you do have physical receipts, you can snap photos or scan them. You may not even need to do that if you enter your transactions into a shared accounting program. By using the cloud, you can always access your financial reports, while your bookkeeper can always access your latest financial documents.
You Can Find the Right Bookkeeper for You
If you only want to work with a local bookkeeper, you may find yourself fairly limited on options. This is especially true if you are in a niche industry. For example, how many local bookkeepers fully understand the winery business? You may not find many that do.
With a virtual bookkeeper, though, you have hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of bookkeepers to select from. You can find the bookkeeper that understands your industry and that is a good fit with you personally. Having a good working relationship with your bookkeeper is just as important as finding one who understands your needs. You need to find someone who knows your niche, is able to provide information in a way you find helpful, and is available to answer your questions. A local bookkeeper may be able to meet these needs in a limited way. By taking your time to find the best virtual bookkeeper, however, you can find a professional who fully provides the services you need.
Virtual Bookkeepers Are Flexible
A physical bookkeeper likely has very set hours. If you call or email them outside of their work hours, they may not respond. However, virtual bookkeepers are more likely to offer flexible scheduling. This is because they understand that they are not going to be in the same time zone as all of their clients. They will need to be available to you during your workday. Many are also available outside of your standard business hours or on the weekends. They are often able to work with you to find the best time to meet, even if it is outside of regular working hours.
Virtual bookkeepers are also flexible in the services they offer. You can scale up or down your services as needed. This helps ensure that you protect your budget when needed but that you can also get the level of bookkeeping you may require at certain times of the year.
You Can Focus on Your Business
Finally, by outsourcing your bookkeeping to a virtual professional, you can focus on your business. Even if you only spend a few hours on your bookkeeping every week, that is time you could be spending on your company strategy. Only you can lead your business forward, but virtual bookkeepers can handle your finances for you. Why not take advantage of their expertise?
In addition to freeing you up to grow your business, you may find that the cost of a virtual bookkeeper is much less than you expected. This is because these experts do not need the same amount of time as you do. They have professional accounting software and other tools, in addition to their training, that makes it much easier for them to get the work done.
Having a professional advise you financially also helps you make better business decisions. You will know where you stand profit-wise, your exact expenses, and much more. With this information, you can make informed decisions regarding products, pricing, vendors, and every other aspect of your company.
Protea Financial Brings the Benefits of a Virtual Bookkeeper to You
Ready to explore what a virtual bookkeeper could do for your winery? Protea Financial has a team of experienced bookkeepers who understand the industry and have the skills needed to assist you in all of your bookkeeping needs. You don’t need to spend all of your time doing the books when we can provide that service and much more.
Contact Protea Financial today to discuss your bookkeeping needs and how we can help you.