If you’re a small business owner, you probably don’t have a team of employees at your disposal. You may still be operating by yourself, out of your home office or a coffee shop. As a one-person operation, however, you’ll still face challenges to handle administrative tasks while also meeting with clients and networking in order to build your business.
Bookkeeping is one task that can force you to take too much time out of your busy day to manage. While cloud technology has made it easy to automate processes, business owners still must oversee these administrative duties. This is time that could be spent pitching to investors or attending networking groups.
Taking It Virtual
Technology may have made it easier for business owners to manage day-to-day operations from anywhere, but it’s also given business owners access to affordable help from across the country or even the world. One solution is to outsource administrative tasks individually like calendar management or billing to remote workers who handle them via the Internet. Another option is to outsource multiple tasks on an ongoing basis to a virtual assistant.
Over the past decade, virtual assistants have exploded in popularity as the professionals have realized the affordability of contracting with workers online. Virtual assistants can handle a wide variety of tasks, including:
- Managing calendars and setting appointments
- Replying to emails
- Organizing email inboxes
- Managing social media accounts
- Updating websites and blogs
- Locating content writers and graphic designers
- Creating expense reports
- Ordering lunch
- Ordering office supplies
- Personal tasks like online shopping
Many business owners only consider the administrative assistant roles a virtual assistant can play, but many have a level of accounting and bookkeeping expertise that can dramatically help a business. Having someone take care of managing incoming payments and ensuring all bills are paid is a particular benefit to business owners.
Benefits of a Virtual Assistant
Perhaps the biggest benefit to a virtual assistant for bookkeeping is that you’ll only pay for the tasks performed. Instead of paying a monthly salary for someone to sit at a desk near yours Monday through Friday, you can send assignments over and pay by the job or by the hour, depending on how the virtual assistant handles billing.
Another benefit is being able to skip the interview and training processes. Instead of wasting weeks recruiting and meeting with potential candidates, only to have to onboard the new hire with hours of training, you’ll have access to a fully-qualified assistant who regularly works with small business owners just like you. While there will still be a small amount of onboarding, you’ll be able to get started much more quickly than if you’d tried to find someone on your own.
The Value of Experience
Like many outsourcing options, virtual assisting gives businesses access to a level of experience they might not be able to afford otherwise. Most small businesses and startups operate on a limited budget, which means they can only afford an entry-level bookkeeper or assistant. This automatically puts smaller businesses at a disadvantage, since large companies can afford higher-priced professionals.
Virtual assistants offer access to experienced professionals at rates small business owners can afford. Because you pay by the job, you don’t have to try to meet the higher salaries of seasoned assistants. You’ll contract with a business that handles the hiring and training of other virtual assistants, giving you access to a team that is already prepared to take on your work.
The Cloud Benefit
For bookkeeping purposes, one thing that has increased the reliance on virtual assistants is cloud software. Many solutions give users the ability to add other users, who can log in and manage things even if they aren’t a full-time staffer with your company. You can contract with a firm on the other side of the country, for instance, and set designated employees of that firm up to be able to login to your accounting software and update your books, pay your bills, manage your payroll, and generate reports showing your expenditures and income for each month.
While a virtual assistant is no substitute for a certified accounting professional, you’ll find that with today’s accounting solutions, you don’t need an expert in the field to handle things. Much of the work you’ll do on a daily basis with this software could be done by anyone who has experience keeping books for a business.
Get on the Road
Once you’ve chosen to outsource certain processes to a virtual assistant, you’ll be able to spend your days on the road instead of in the office. You can log in from anywhere, using your mobile device or laptop, and watch your accounting software on a daily basis, if you choose. Once you’ve made it through the earliest days of working with a virtual assistant offsite, you’ll be able to proceed with confidence, knowing it is being handled by someone who has more experience with such tasks than you are.
Once you’ve removed yourself from daily administrative tasks, you’ll free yourself up to network and build your business. This means getting out of the office or your home and spending your days at meetings and industry conferences. This is where your time is best spent as an entrepreneur, even if you choose to continue to keep your own calendar and respond to your own emails.
Even once you’ve offloaded paying bills and basic bookkeeping to a virtual assistant, you’ll still need to handle some things yourself. The expenses you’ll gather while on the road will need to be carefully tracked as you go, with the information accessible to the person handling your books. With the right technology in place, you can scan receipts and have them accessible to the assistant handling your books.
Another benefit to capturing your expenses on the go is that they’ll always be there for later review. Instead of wadding up receipts in your pocket while you’re rushing from one meeting to another throughout the day, you can scan them and toss the receipt. Your assistant can login and see the receipt and make sure the information is added to your books to avoid any missed expenses. Best of all, you’ll always have updated information about your bank balances, which makes it easier when you’re purchasing office supplies or considering registering for a conference.
Virtual assistants are a great way to get high-quality service at affordable rates. You’ll have access to professionals with experience in bookkeeping and bill-paying and you’ll be able to spend less time at your desk and more time building your business.