Most small to medium sized businesses do not need a full time bookkeeper. Most part-time accountants that these businesses hire usually don’t stay long. These businesses have their work done by an accounting firm.
Generally, an accounting firm provides two types of services: Onsite accounting services and Offsite accounting services. This article will explain in detail what each of these services is and what their advantages and disadvantages are.
In onsite accounting, an accountant physically goes to the business premises to work. It is similar to the accountant you hire, with some differences. The accounting firm sends an accountant to the client’s office.
There are several advantages to on-site accounting services. The biggest advantage, of course, is the money you save by hiring someone only for the days you need them.
When you have this type of service, you do not have to stay with the same accountant if you think he/she is not working well for you. Just call the company and you can have another person work for you. Once you find the perfect accountant, you can ask the company to have the same person work for you. You can never do that when you hire an accountant.
Another advantage is that you don’t have to worry about benefits. You pay the accounting firm directly, so there is no paycheck involved.
The accounting and tax rules are complex, and chances are most accountants don’t fully understand these rules. If you get on-site service, there are other accountants your bookkeeper can ask questions of. Most of these firms are standing by to help them.
There are also some disadvantages to onsite accounting. Onsite accounting service differs from one accounting firm to another. Some firms have minimum requirements for purchasing services. For example, this may mean that you have to get at least a certain number of days per week to get the onsite service.
Since your onsite accountant is not working for you full time, you will still have to do some work, such as collecting invoices and bills during the time he or she is not working.
With offsite accounting, the accounting firm does the work in their office. This type of service is also called virtual accounting (no, it’s not a computer working for you, but a real person working on your data). Basically, it’s as if your accountant’s office is far away from your place of business. You have to send your documents such as invoices, bills, bank statements, etc. to the accounting firm.
The main advantage of offsite accounting is the cost of the service. It is surprisingly cheaper (as cheap as $50 per month) than onsite accounting service. If you can’t afford to hire an accountant, you should at least use offsite accounting. At these prices, it’s almost ridiculous not to do bookkeeping or try to do it yourself.
Some companies will send their express courier service to pick up your documents. If you are computer literate, you can scan your documents and email them or upload them to their website. You can also fax your documents. While sending a large number of invoices, bills, and statements via email or fax certainly seems more time consuming, these methods are good if you only need to send one or two documents, such as a missing bill or statement, etc.
Always make sure you know what services are included when you purchase an outside accounting service. Some companies do not offer payroll service or tax remittance service when you purchase a regular offsite accounting service. Some will provide you with monthly reports, while other companies may only provide you with annual reports.
Another important thing to remember is to make sure you know what software your accounting firm uses. While we all like accountants with several years or even decades of experience, they may be using software that is outdated or nearly so. At the time of writing this article, QuickBooks and Simply Accounting are the two most popular software programs used by most accountants.
Finally, stay away from home based business accountants if you are absolutely sure about the quality of their service. They could discontinue their service at any time in the future u
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