Believe it or not, some small businesses simply don't need outsourced bookkeeping. Like all businesses, they still need bookkeeping just not outsourced bookkeeping. As a virtual bookkeeping firm, we have an ideal client and every once in a while we tell a potential client that we wouldn't be a great fit for them. The reasons can vary from anything technology driven all the way to company culture. We've learned it's better to be upfront with prospects earlier on in the sales cycle as opposed to trying to BS them and attempting to get a square peg to fit into a round hole.
Technology Is A Barrier
To help provide outstanding real-time bookkeeping services anywhere in the country or world we need to use today's technology to its fullest extent. If a small business owner is opposed to using secure computers, servers, online banking, remote hosting solutions, etc. then it simply won't work. An owner with this mindset is becoming more and more rare, but they are still out there. We remotely work on computers day and night and this allows for books to be updated daily, weekly, or monthly and it can be flexible based on schedules and availability. In fact, we have come up with our own great remote hosting solution that takes some of the issues out of using programs like LogMeIn, GoToMyPC, and QuickBooks Online. The main reason for developing our own system was because a growing number of businesses are getting sucked into QuickBooks Online and this program has many limitations when compared to QuickBooks Pro, Premier, or Enterprise.
Combining this hosting solution with online access to data is a win win for everyone. It has led to better bookkeeping updates and delivers quicker financial reporting which can be used for better growth forecasting and budgeting.
Company Culture Or Attitude
Ever see the office episode when Michael Scott breaks up with his girlfriend and unknowingly says the wrong line "it's not me, it's you?" I hear this in my head all the time when dealing with small businesses that have negative internal attitudes or cultures because it is them, and not me. We get called in as bookkeepers to fix the 'bookkeeping problems' and it turns out is has nothing to with the bookkeeping at all. This is where we throw our hands up and suggest an organizational therapist or someone along those lines gets hired instead of us. Recently we were brought in to a train wreck of a bookkeeping situation and did several hours' worth of digging around to identify the workload and starting points. When explaining to the owner all the tasks his bookkeeper has to deal with on a daily basis that might prevent them from actually tackling these problems he told me the bookkeeper should be able to handle these tasks within 45-60 minutes each day. I was blown away for a few reasons, 1. the issues I explained totaled 4-5 hours' worth of daily work which I laid out for him, and 2. his answer indicated he didn't care to actually listen to what I was saying.
We try to do as much as possible as outsourced bookkeepers however when we step into situations that are outside of our area of expertise we are smart enough to let the proper people know instead of comprising our skill set to get some extra revenue.
Although we would ideally like all small business owners to call us right when they are in that start-up phase of business development so we can help get them set up before things get out of control, but it's understandable that is not everyone's mindset. When a business owner is in the early stages of getting started they usually have a lot of time on their hands and not any cash. They tend to be in the bootstrapping phase. The advice I offer this type of owner is to subscribe to our blogs (we have a technical QuickBooks blog and a general small business blog), read our articles, ask us questions in the comment fields, use the results, and spend some time pouring over their own books. This way, they can fine tune each process within their bookkeeping system so it will be ready to go once the business plan comes together and they are bursting at the seams.
We work anywhere from 15 hours a week on a particular client's books all the way to a few hours a month on others. From time to time, we will encounter a business owner that wants our services onsite for 24+ hours per week. Right away it is obvious that this won't work for us or most remote bookkeeping services. When this is asked of us we usually tell them they need to go internal since they are on the cusp of having a fulltime in house bookkeeper. Believe it or not, this usually makes them want to hire us more. It simply won't work since we aren't a staffing agency. However, a common result is we get brought in on a consulting basis to clean up their books, put a system in place, and train the person that will be there 30-40 hours a week. It's another win win for everyone. That way, we are available to support a bookkeeper that we helped train and follow the system we designed.
If your business falls outside any of these outsourced bookkeeping roadblocks and want to learn more feel free to reach out. We enjoy teaming up with small businesses and helping set up bookkeeping systems so they can grow revenues, add employees, achieve dreams (sounds cheesy but it's true, read the article linked), and beat forecasted goals.