Employees of a successful company don’t really have to visit the office in order to get the work done right and on time. No, not anymore, because virtually everything can be done virtually. Get it? It’s where many professions are now, and thanks to cloud-based technologies, accountants and firms can operate at their best while maintaining a collaborative, paperless and streamlined workflow.
There has been a drastic change in how accountants and bookkeepers handle their work. Online accounting software has become an industry norm, bringing disruption in the accounting industry by allowing people to become virtual accountants and bookkeepers. This new way of working has many benefits, such as reducing the costs and time spent on traveling to work and growing the company’s geographical reach.
What and why?
Bookkeeping and accounting are activities that deal with business transactions ‒ maintaining financial accounts, preparing financial reports, and auditing business records.
The accountant is, therefore, an important link in the accounting process. As many startups and SMBs can’t afford to hire an in-house accountant nor bother themselves to study and learn about it, they usually outsource their accounting services. This means that if you’re “good with numbers”, this is the perfect business for you. The services you’ll provide will range from managing the accounts payable, accounts receivable, income tax preparation, payroll, and more. You need to be reliable and accurate, have experience with accounting on a professional level, and know your way around accounting software.
In order to start your own virtual accounting office, you’ll need to know how to do it. We’ve created a list of tips for becoming a virtual accountant, and here’s what you should pay attention to.
The preparation for entering the online accounting business starts with market research and feasibility. What are the demographics and psychographics of those who need accounting services? It cuts across the organized private sector, the public sector, and individuals from all levels of society. You can offer your services to businessmen, event planners, sports organizations, investors, healthcare organizations and pharmacies, religious centers, local government, and more.
If you want to narrow your field of work and specialize in a specific accounting niche, you can opt for financial accounting, tax accounting, managerial accounting, auditing and forensic accounting, personal financial planning, or cost accounting.
If you’re just out of college, with knowledge but no experience, you can find great accounting internships to enroll in, feel the real work, and gain insight into the industry.
2. Choose an accounting application
It’s easy for accountants to set-up their virtual firms quickly and with minimum associated costs. Thanks to the increase in cloud-based accounting software that allows multi-user access (Kashoo, Xero, and Quickbooks Online), accountants are now able to work at any time and from anywhere. Smaller firms can now bypass the costs and time previously associated with online accounting due to these online applications.
In case your client doesn’t find online applications suitable, you can look into a hosted solution that makes applications (a desktop version of an online app). Firms can log into a client’s computer remotely, which is similar to the on-site accounting and is a great alternative to the cloud-based applications, even though it can be more time-consuming and expensive to set up.
3. Receiving clients’ documents
The next step is choosing the right document-management application. This depends on the needs of the firm. For example, there’s LedgerDocs that allows clients to send documents to their accountants directly by scanning and uploading them into the app, by taking a photo of the document and uploading it via an email address or iPhone app, or by emailing documents to a secure LedgerDocs email address.
After the documents are uploaded into the app, the accountant can view the document, access the associated tags and notes, and perform the accounting tasks. Once the work is finished, they can file it away digitally. The clients are able to keep their own filing cabinet, which enables both them and their accountants to have all the information necessary for completing their work successfully.
4. Managing clients
The environment you work in is global, and you’ll need a clear and simple set of guidelines that can be followed every month. These guidelines should include the expectations, set of rules, and deadlines for the expected work.
For example, the accountant can have everything up-to-date only when all documents are uploaded by a certain date each month. Six days after this date, the files will be sent to the client with all the statements and reports. Establishing this early in the relationship is important, because it will influence how both sides will work together.
The accounting industry is changing, which makes it more exciting to work in. Online technologies now allow accounting firms to offer an added value to their clients and change their business strategies and client outreach. If you manage to utilize all the available tools, and make the process of sharing, managing, and organizing data simple, you’ll be open to working with firms that are outside of your geographic reach.