We work with a lot of small business owners in different fields, and one thing that we find in common is that they all have a strong “DIY” mentality. It’s difficult to justify paying for anything that’s not absolutely necessary, especially when it comes to hiring more personnel. You probably started out doing practically everything yourself, gradually delegating some responsibilities to family members, and so on. And when we speak of work that doesn’t directly relate to your core business functions, it’s particularly difficult to justify hiring people. This would certainly include bringing in an in-house bookkeeper to manage your books on a day-to-day basis.
- DIY only goes so far.
However, it’s inevitable that the time will come when the volume of bookkeeping work becomes too great for you to handle it all on your own. And if you’re like most of the small business owners we know, you’re probably spread way too thin by this point. There seems to be no limit on the demands on your time, and things that you really need to be involved in, like perfecting and refining your product or service offerings, and winning new clients. Still, it’s hard to commit to hiring an in-house bookkeeper. It’s a big investment, with salary, benefits, and lots of overhead costs. And you’ll be putting in time and effort to manage and oversee that person as well. It’s not really the ideal situation. But, what other alternatives are there?
- Bring in a freelancer?
One option to consider would be to have a “freelance” bookkeeper come in on a part-time basis, to work on your books on an ongoing basis. There are plenty of independent bookkeeping professionals who are always looking for work, and this does have its advantages for you. You don’t need to hire a full-time in-house bookkeeper, and take on all the expenses and responsibilities of managing a new employee. You’ll also only pay for the amount of time that you actually need the bookkeeper, which is probably way less than full-time.
But there are some concerns with this model too. For starters, you’ll need to find and screen bookkeepers to make sure you find someone who can trust, and ideally someone who understands your business. And, since they’re only coming in on a part-time basis, that leaves some significant gaps in your schedule when you don’t have a bookkeeper available. What happens when a question arises on an off-day, if your bookkeeper won’t be in until next week, for example?
- Outsource your bookkeeping: Get an entire team.
A third option, and one that’s gaining popularity, is to outsource your bookkeeping work, and perhaps all of your accounting functions. Don’t get scared when you hear the work “outsource”. We’re not talking about shipping your bookkeeping overseas, but rather, entrusting your work to a bookkeeping or accounting service, sometimes referred to as a “virtual accounting team”. This is an excellent way to put your bookkeeping in the hands of skilled professionals, without actually having to hire an in-house bookkeeper.
There are some additional advantages to this model. Instead of one individual, you’ll have access to an entire team of professionals, each with their own strengths and areas of focus. There will always be someone on the team with the expertise to answer whatever questions may arise. The team structure also makes this a highly scalable solution. Should your volume of work increase, or if you even have a busy season, your “virtual accountant” will simply add another individual to your team. Should business slow down again, you won’t be faced with the dilemma of having to decide whether to lay someone off, or carry the expense of an employee for whom you don’t have enough work. They’ll also provide you with the latest and greatest accounting and bookkeeping software and technology.
If you’re considering alternatives to maintaining in-house bookkeeping, give us a call. We’d love to set up a free consultation, and show you how well virtual accounting and bookkeeping can work for your business.