Virtual vs Live Bookkeeping

What are virtual bookkeeping services, and how does it differ from live bookkeeping? Some may argue that they are one in the same, but there is one major difference: a relationship.

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Virtual bookkeeping is usually a service that you engage and not a person. You don’t really get to directly talk to your bookkeeper. The service forces you through a web portal then plays tag or hot potato with the work you assign. If either you or your virtual bookkeeper has a question for clarification of the duties, and there usually is, precious time could be lost with back and forth messaging. In many cases, your virtual bookkeeper is waiting on action and commands from you in order to know what to do. That doesn’t sound very efficient nor is it independent.

During a live bookkeeping call, most questions can be cleared up in minutes. Your live bookkeeper has familiar collaboration tools such as GoToAssist or Splashtop and reviews your computer screens with you. At a minimum, you’ll feel more comfortable knowing that someone is actively listening to you and re-stating your question or concern. A live bookkeeper works with you, trying to collaborate with and create a plan that works best for your business.

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A virtual bookkeeping business may be too restrictive. In virtual bookkeeping, you must have specific instructions and identify the duties required for your books. Their bookkeepers are obliged to follow the tasks and schedules required by the company. It seems counterintuitive that you should instruct a professional in how he or she should be doing the work. You should convey your expectations, but a true professional does not need to be micromanaged.

By taking on a more collaborative role with a live bookkeeper, you will take more control over your business and its finances. You can manage your expectations and discuss objectives with your live bookkeeper in real-time. Do you have catch-up work? Are you approaching tax filing deadlines? Do you want your Chart of Accounts cleaned up? How about merging duplicated customers and vendors? During a live appointment, you will be able to have a dialogue and get some idea as to how these types of issues and others can be prioritized and acted upon.

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You never know who your virtual bookkeeper will be. The virtual bookkeeping companies that are available for you to hire chooses who they think is a good fit for your business, not you. Some virtual bookkeeping services hire staff who have minimal training and/or experience. They focus on data entry and not bookkeeping. This improves the virtual bookkeeping service’s profitability, but may not always be helpful to you.

Some staff may apply for virtual bookkeeping jobs to earn extra income while staying at home. These same virtual bookkeepers assume that the work is not difficult and tout zero accounting skills. Believing they can learn as they go, they can become “virtual Houdinis” and pull a disappearing act at the first obstacle. Your problem has compounded now; you have unfinished work and have wasted time.

Do your homework and be certain about your bookkeeper and what specialties, certifications, and experience he or she has.

Virtual Bookkeeping – Lessons Learned

  • No personal connection: There’s much to learn about a unique business, like yours. With a lack of real-time interaction and familiarity, virtual bookkeeping is only vested in your business up to a certain point. You will not know who is actually doing your books and accountability to your work could be lacking.
  • Short timers: Your virtual bookkeeper will change more than you’ll like. Virtual bookkeeping services hire part-time contractors who tend to be building their own business on the side or use moonlighters who can be stretched too thin. Don’t let anyone leave you in the lurch!
  • Dubious Training: You don’t want to spend your hard-earned money on a virtual bookkeeper without knowing his or her bookkeeping niche and qualifications. The virtual bookkeeping service selects your bookkeeper and not you. How will you know if their choice is a good fit for your business? You may be able to request a reassignment, but it is still up to the service to decide who gets your virtual bookkeeping job. How’s that for customer “no” service?

Live Bookkeeping With My Live Bookkeeper

  • Relationship: With My Live Bookkeeper, we communicate in real-time and want the best for your business. We care about you and your business, and support you not only as a bookkeeper, but as an ally and cheerleader. We love seeing our clients succeed!
  • Reliability: Because we respect your time and take pride in a job well done, you can feel confident in the strength of our collaboration. We are trusted advisors to our clients.
  • Qualified: At My Live Bookkeeper, you’ll have an expert who is QuickBooks-certified and has 20 years of working with other small businesses as a full-time career. You’ll know you’ve made the right choice between live bookkeeping and virtual bookkeeping during your first phone call. My Live Bookkeeper gives you access to a level of expertise that a virtual bookkeeper cannot.

If you are looking for a dedicated QuickBooks expert who offers practical instruction, can read and interpret your reports from a different angle, and is a great value, then schedule an appointment with Andrea to learn more.