How Can a Virtual Assistant Help Me With My Bookkeeping Virtually?
I purchase this question asked considerably as many small business owners just can't stand bookkeeping or don't have the time. I can tell you that virtual bookkeeping is possible pretty easily however it does depend on what system you have in place and how comfortable you're with delegating on your virtual bookkeeper.
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The very first consideration:
1. Accounting Program. If you work with QuickBooks, Peachtree or any other accounting software, you need to make sure that your version comes to the virtual bookkeeper. Most accounting programs will assist you to restore a file from either exactly the same version or version below (QuickBooks Pro 2009) then again you would not be able to restore the file down again to your version (QuickBooks Pro 2008). Most QuickBooks ProAdvisors do have multiple versions of QuickBooks on his or her computers. I personally have clients still using more aged versions and they have opted never to upgrade because the version just works acceptable for them.
2. An alternative choice is QuickBooks Online. QuickBooks online allows 3 users to gain access to the account (business owner, bookkeeper and accountant). What is nice about QuickBooks Online, is basically that you do not need to purchase software every year and the file is duplicated on the Intuit server daily. You can also access the file everywhere you look you have computer access - from your own home office, if you travel frequently - from your hotel, or even review the file directly from your accountant's office. The QuickBooks Online version is different than the desktop version however if you just use QuickBooks for invoicing and entering payables, this process will work fine for you. Should you be thinking about using QuickBooks online, please check with your QuickBooks ProAdvisor and they can explain the different packages available as well as help set up your bank account. The monthly fee is between $9.95 - $34.95 depending on what package you end up picking and keep in mind that many QuickBooks ProAdvisors do pass on their discounts with their clients.
3. You can even use remote access sites like logmein, gotomypc or pcanywhere where the virtual bookkeeper can log in your computer, access your QuickBooks file boost as needed. The only problem with in this way is it will prevent you against using your computer simultaneously as the bookkeeper and often the entering transactions will take a little bit more time due to type of internet connection you've got.
The second consideration: how to get the information on the bookkeeper. There are a few approaches to handle this and again the treatment depends on what process works for you and the bookkeeper.
1. Create a file folder for each month of the year - January through December. Through the entire month, insert your bank card receipts, vendor bills, and funds outlays into the appropriate file folder. If the bank statement is received, after that you can send the file folder for the bookkeeper via Priority Mail, Express Mail, FedEx or UPS. After the bookkeeper receives the file, the charge card charges are entered into the accounting program as well as the statement reconciled along with your business banks. For this method, most clients do pay their vendor bills and send the check stubs towards the bookkeeper for reconciling. Once the reconciliations have been completed, the bookkeeper will email the monthly financial reports (Profit & Loss, Balance Sheet) and mail back all the receipts, which have now been connected to the appropriate statements (bank or bank card) for filing.
2. For client invoicing, it is possible to email, fax or mail the knowledge needed for preparing the customer invoice. For monthly invoicing, a master invoice template could be set up with the client filing within the necessary information and then emailing to the bookkeeper for completion. The virtual bookkeeper can prepare and only mail or email the invoice on your behalf. The virtual bookkeeper can also help you in keeping close a record of your accounts receivable.
3. For those of you who have online banking, it is very easy to use a virtual bookkeeper. There are a couple of ways this can be achieved - you can download your bank activity weekly, bi-weekly or monthly and email the info to the bookkeeper for entry along with the monthly bank statement when it is available.
For those of you who may have had a long, established relationship together with your bookkeeper, you can assign access to them through your bank, and they'd then be able to log in and download the transactions and bank statements themselves. You can also email your bookkeeper vendor invoices with suggested payment dates and also the bookkeeper can build the vendor for payment via your online bank account.
Lastly, finding a virtual bookkeeper. It is possible to certainly contact your accountant and have if they can recommend a bookkeeper to help with your monthly transactions. Many bookkeepers do give you results closely with their client's accountants. Throughout every season I am sending QB files for quarterly or six review for tax planning discussions that my clients have with their accountant. Another idea would be to ask other business owners that you know and ask them who assist's all of them with their bookkeeping.
1. Intuit (makers of QuickBooks) comes with a online database of the Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors you can find at Intuit's website. You enter your zip code and a list will show the Certified ProAdvisors in your area. To become a QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor you have to take a test annually on the most recent edition of QuickBooks. It becomes an online test and may take up to 16 hours to accomplish.
2. Another recommendation is to discover someone who is a Certified Bookkeeper. There's 2 organizations that offer certification programs for bookkeepers and they're the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) and also the National Association of Certified Professional Bookkeepers (NACPB). With both organizations you need to obtain CE credits throughout every season in order to attain your certification. In addition, NACPB provides the nation's leading bookkeeper licenses. NACPB bookkeeper licenses assure small company and nonprofit organizations that NACPB licensed bookkeepers are trusted and competent bookkeepers.
3. The International Virtual Assistants Association - a non-profit organization with over 1,200 members is an additional association where you can find well-qualified bookkeepers or certified bookkeepers. They've got an RFP area to post your job requirements and members who match those qualifications will reply to your RFP.
These are just a few of the methods that can be used when working with a virtual bookkeeper. There's also other processes that can be used which I did not cover. It is essential that when you are interviewing for the virtual bookkeeper, that you both decide on what process will work best for both yourself as well as the bookkeeper. Of course, when you begin working together, you may find that emailing your QuickBooks file is just too cumbersome and you may then tend to use QuickBooks Online or one of the remote access programs. It will certainly be the task of the bookkeeper to find the process that will work the best to suit your needs.