Wondering if you’ve outgrown manual bookkeeping? We've got you covered in the battle of Excel vs. accounting software.
September 29, 2022
If your startup is at the stage where you need to hire a bookkeeper, one of your first decisions is whether to choose on-site or virtual bookkeeping. Chances are you’re familiar with on-site bookkeeping or previously worked with bookkeepers in person.
However, while onsite bookkeeping has benefits, it can have severe limitations — particularly for startups. Virtual bookkeeping services benefit your business by giving you access to thousands of accounting professionals who can stay on top of your books without ever stepping foot in your office.
If you’re unsure whether a virtual bookkeeping service like Zeni is right for your business (or if you’re wondering, ‘What is virtual bookkeeping?’), keep reading to learn what it involves and which types of startups can benefit most from choosing a virtual service.
Like traditional on-site bookkeepers, virtual bookkeepers manage day-to-day financial tasks like recording transactions, reconciling bank and credit card accounts, and processing payroll.
The key difference is that a traditional bookkeeper needs to be present in your workplace to carry out these tasks. In contrast, a virtual bookkeeper handles everything remotely using cloud-based software. Virtual bookkeeping is also known as remote or online bookkeeping. Key benefits of virtual bookkeeping include:
As with any person or service you’d consider hiring to help manage your business finances, it’s important to be sure the person's work is reliable, accurate, timely, and comprehensive.
You can hire a remote bookkeeper as a full-time or part-time employee, outsource the work to an independent contractor or freelancer, or streamline your finances with a remote bookkeeping service.
If you choose a bookkeeping service, you’ll get the benefits of working with a whole team of experts from different backgrounds. Access to more people also means more capacity to cover ad-hoc bookkeeping tasks and accounting services as needed.
With the rise of remote-only and remote-hybrid workspaces, the line between virtual and onsite bookkeeping has become less distinct. Today, virtual finance teams can offer the same insights and guidance as onsite bookkeepers—with better availability, faster response times, and real-time reportage built to address the challenges of any industry.
Remote finance teams can handle all day-to-day activities bookkeepers perform, along with more advanced accounting services like financial projections & analysis, yearly taxes, and compliance needs. By leveraging the experience of a team of financial professionals—along with AI-driven software that automates calculations and accounting activities—remote bookkeepers can offer a greater breadth of scope.
For example, startups with venture capital funding may need to provide monthly updates to avoid delinquency. Accurate reporting is crucial, but if a business cannot find in-office financial experts who have experience with monthly reporting requirements, they may have trouble creating accurate reports on a steady timeline.
While most companies have gone digital, paper-based accounting remains surprisingly common. About 25% of small businesses still use manual accounting methods (with no digital component). Paper-only bookkeeping is time-consuming and increases the risk of human error, but switching to digital bookkeeping may seem impractical for some organizations,
For example, if your business receives a lot of physical invoices, you might assume that digitizing those documents would create a bottleneck. That’s not the case — provided that you’re working with the right tools.
Virtual bookkeeping is a good fit for businesses willing and able to go paperless and use cloud-based accounting software to replace the need for paper invoices and receipts.
There are also countless resources to help you move your business’s back office into the cloud — Bill.com to manage paperless billing and invoicing, Quickbooks Online*, Expensify to manage employee reimbursements, and new banking and credit card companies like Brex with built-in receipt management tools and paperless statements.
Almost any business owner or entrepreneur will find virtual bookkeeping a convenient alternative to on-site services. Remote bookkeeping services offer a vast pool of experienced bookkeepers with more flexibility.
If your team is comfortable working with online tools, your business is a good candidate for virtual bookkeeping. However, there are some types of businesses that find remote services particularly beneficial:
As the number of customers and financial transactions your business deals with increases, so will the complexity and hours of bookkeeping support you need. Fast-growing startups will require more hours from their finance teams, and leaders need to know that their teams are maximizing tax credits, R&D credits, and other programs that facilitate future growth.
With on-site bookkeeping, you’re limited by the availability of bookkeepers in your area and the space in your office for new team members to work. An experienced remote bookkeeping service has the bandwidth to take on extra work as and when you need it, with no worries about finding new hires or adapting your office space.
A bookkeeper who understands your industry’s basic monthly financial reports (Profit & Loss or Income Statement, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow Statement) and tax requirements will work quickly and accurately. But, it can be hard to find someone with the right bookkeeping experience who lives within commuting distance of your workplace, particularly if you have an unconventional business model or are part of a niche industry.
If you work with a virtual bookkeeping business, you can choose from bookkeepers and finance services based anywhere in the world. You’re also more likely to find someone who has experience with your specific bookkeeping needs.
This is especially advantageous for cryptocurrency startups and other organizations with complex or industry-specific reporting requirements. Virtual bookkeeping provides access to bookkeepers with relevant experience, ensuring that your business receives applicable guidance.
If your business has multiple workspaces, in-person bookkeeping professionals can be an inefficient solution. Having a single bookkeeper who covers all your offices means lots of time wasted traveling rather than working on the books, but hiring a bookkeeper for each location is a significant expense.
A virtual bookkeeper can handle the books for all your locations remotely, so you have one point of contact to give you a complete picture of how your business is performing.
Many business leaders choose on-site services because they want to focus on growing their business—having an in-office dedicated bookkeeper allows leaders to ask questions and develop a stronger understanding of key financial metrics.
Facetime can be a valuable resource for business owners. However, this can also be done with virtual or online bookkeeping services. At Zeni, we take efforts to build strong client relationships, and our finance team is adept at providing the guidance that new businesses need to stay focused on growth.
Zeni is a full-service finance firm that handles all your bookkeeping, accounting, and CFO needs remotely. With Zeni’s Full Service Plan, you get accurate, up-to-date books at a 10x faster rate than other bookkeeping options thanks to Zeni’s AI-powered processes. The Zeni dashboard gives you access to real-time financial data and key startup metrics, including your net burn, cash on hand, and zero cash date, so you always have the insights you need.
For startups, financial flexibility is essential. Online bookkeeping can play a crucial role in your company’s long-term growth—and with a strategic finance partner, your organization can make sure that every dollar counts. Learn more by scheduling a demo.