We, as outsourced bookkeepers, get a lot of questions thrown at us given the amount of networking, selling, blog commenting, training, etc. that we do. Though each answer varies depending on the situation at hand there is always a certain set of frequently asked questions we hear time and time again.
1. What Bookkeeping Services Do You Provide?
Our services vary greatly but a few things are certain, we are not a CPA firm, nor are we a payroll firm. Those are areas we can easily refer out while we focus solely on your books. All businesses vary in their needs for a bookkeeper and we customize our services specifically to those needs. Basically, we make sure all of your ducks are in a row. Meaning your main financial reports, such as the Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet are current on a monthly basis so there aren't any surprises come year end. We accomplish this by reconciling all active accounts and ensuring that all outstanding questions are answered in a real-time manner. We can set up the accounts payable system so the flow of receiving, authorizing, and paying bills is seamless. The same goes with accounts receivable. We set up systems all the time that help track open invoices and outstanding customer balances to help make sure cash flow isn't hurt by delinquent repeat offenders.
Not only do we set up these sorts of systems, but we also train in-house bookkeepers. Sometimes a person becomes a bookkeeper without even knowing it. As business grows and changes so do employees' roles. Next thing you know, you might have a bookkeeper that wasn't formally trained or educated in this field. We have the ability to come in, look over what this person has set up, modify it if necessary, and then support them on a monthly or quarterly basis.
2. Is This The Worst Set Of Books You Have Ever Seen?
Most businesses we walk into that don't have a bookkeeping system set up often ask this question at some point in the meeting, usually at the end with an embarrassed look on their face. 99% of the time the answer is 'no.' No one will ever beat of our original clients that involved Matt and myself being locked in our office for what felt like weeks on end. The end result was a thing of beauty, but the office looked like a war room with paperwork everywhere, stuff stapled to the wall, a flip chart that looked like a bad Jackson Pollack painting, and the list goes on and on.
Though I say this while knocking on wood, we've seen it all. We have certain methods that overly simplify the task at hand and break it down into a systematic process to make sure everything is accounted for in the proper manner. Once that is done, it's just a matter of having the discipline to maintain it on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly time frame.
3. How Do You Do It?
Almost all of our work is performed remotely and this is done using cloud services or various ways to 'remote in' which can mean many things. Some small businesses have their own internal networks and servers set up and we utilize a combination of a VPN and Remote Desktop Connection to get in. If a business doesn't have their own internal server, we may use an online program such as LogMeIn or GoToMyPc to gain access. We then pull their financial information from their bank accounts, credit card accounts, payroll firms, etc. via a limited access username and password. This allows us to input or import data without the risk of touching any funds. We then tailor our schedule based on access and computer usage by the business owner and managers. If a small business owner isn't comfortable with this scenario, then we may not be the best fit for their outsourced bookkeeping needs. However, in this day and age we rarely encounter such a mindset.
These are just a few of the questions we hear on a regular basis. Have any other ones? Feel free to reach out. We are always up for a conversation with a business owner, manager, or fellow bookkeeper about the mindset and processes for running a small business.