A virtual accountant is simply an accountant who works online. Rather than working in your office or being outsourced locally, a virtual accountant is available through online communications. By working online, virtual accountants provide complete, boutique accounting services on demand.
What Can a Virtual Accountant/Bookkeeper Do For You?
A virtual accountant can do everything that a normal accountant would be able to do for you as a business owner. A virtual accountant works with you to set up your books, keeps your records accurate and current, and provides A/R and A/P tasks.
- Accounts receivable: Collect and process incoming payments on time and ensure the cash flow of the company's money.
- Accounts payable: Make sure bills are paid on time, preserve relationships with vendors, and avoid cash flow problems.
- Reporting: Prove income/expense reports and general ledger reports to ensure business owners are aware of their financial position.
- Reconciliation: Ensure that bank accounts are reconciled within accounting software and that the accounting software is accurate.
A business owner can augment their business with a virtual bookkeeper rather than hiring an internal bookkeeper.
For a business owner, virtual bookkeepers are much more affordable and accessible and can be hired at a much lower rate.
Who Do Virtual Bookkeeping Services Work With?
Virtual accountants provide bookkeeping services to small business owners, individuals, and self-employed individuals.
A virtual accountant can provide financial reports, set up accounting software, perform bank reconciliations, and provide accounts receivable/accounts payable services on behalf of individuals or small business owners.
Virtual Bookkeeping vs Traditional Accounting
Working online is what sets virtual bookkeeping apart from a traditional accountant. In all other aspects, a virtual bookkeeper will provide the same services and have the same credentials.
Virtual accountants are able to provide clients with accounting services at a lower cost compared to regular accounting firms because they don't need to pay for overhead, such as large brick-and-mortar offices.
You should expect a virtual bookkeeper to be able to perform your virtual bookkeeping up to the same standards as an in-person accountant, or even higher.
The difference would be that meetings will likely happen with your virtual bookkeeper through video conferencing on software like Zoom.
Using Cloud Accounting Software With Your Virtual Bookkeeping Service
A virtual bookkeeping service will usually switch you to online or cloud-based accounting software like QuickBooks Online or NetSuite. This ensures your financial transactions are always available. QuickBooks Online is one of the most popular accounting software for small business owners.
Your bookkeeping service will be able to review your financial transactions from anywhere in the world and be able to collaborate with you more effectively.
Small businesses have many basic bookkeeping tasks to handle. Virtual bookkeeper jobs can fill the gap for small businesses that would otherwise need to be filled internally. For small businesses that want virtual bookkeeping service to handle their basic bookkeeping tasks, the first place to look is online.
What Do You Need to Get Started?
How do small business owners get started with their bookkeeping services? To get started with any accounting services, you should have available:
- Your last year of tax returns and anything you've paid.
- Login information to your accounting software to manage it.
- Any other software you use to manage your finances.
- Your bank statements and credit card statements.
- Information about hiring or other business decisions.
- Any accounts for assets (such as retirement accounts).
- Any accounts for debts (such as credit cards and loans).
You should also be prepared to provide any other financial information, such as prior year financial reports. Those financial reports will be used to identify any potential discrepancies in accounts, such as missing statements.
Let them know if you'd rather switch to a cloud accounting solution or use your own. Cloud accounting is often best for business owners using a virtual service because business transactions can be managed and monitored online, as well as basic bookkeeping.
How Do You Find Virtual Bookkeeping Services?
You can find a virtual accountant easily online, but how do you make sure that your virtual accountant is reputable and trustworthy?
When you look for virtual bookkeeping, you need to know that you're dealing with a virtual bookkeeper that can provide you with the type of on-demand service you want. Virtual bookkeeping is a reputation-first business.
Looking for online reviews, testimonials, and talking with the company will allow you to get a good idea of if they would be a good choice for you. See if there's anyone recommending specific virtual bookkeeping services, if there are any bookkeeping services that aren't recommended, and if there are negative reviews about bookkeeping services.
Ask another business owner if there's a bookkeeping service they recommend or if there's a virtual bookkeeping service they should avoid.
Always be cautious when sending personal information over the internet. If your virtual accountant doesn't have methods of securing your files—and if they are non-communicative with you—consider using another service.
Likewise, if your virtual accountant is communicative, friendly, and professional, they are more likely to deliver a positive experience.
Should You Use Virtual Bookkeeping Services?
You should use a virtual accountant if you are interested in saving money on your accounting fees, or if you need to have an accountant available at all times.
Many virtual accounting firms can operate in different timezones or even provide 24/7 access to your bookkeeping. Through online or cloud-based bookkeeping software, you can also connect to your bookkeeping data at any time and from anywhere.
- Saving money on your bookkeeping services.
- Retaining complete access to your books and accounting software.
- Getting convenient, easy access to bookkeeping services.
- Get your bank accounts reconciled.
- Being shown how to use a service like QuickBooks online through your virtual bookkeeper.
- Getting small business financial support.
- Acquiring support for things like payroll services.
- Ensuring that business transactions basic bookkeeping, and business processes go through.
- Organize your bank statements through your virtual bookkeeping service.
The only downside to a virtual accountant is that you can't have face-to-face meetings with them, although you can engage in face-to-face video meetings. If it's important to you to be able to sit down and meet with an accountant in-person, virtual bookkeepers might not be right for you.
But if you feel comfortable operating in a purely virtual world and you want to save money on your accounting, a virtual accounting service is the perfect solution.