Keeping a businesses' books is a regular (daily, weekly or monthly) maintenance task that includes inputing and categorizing new credit card and bank transactions into the company's bookkeeping software, entering bills and invoices and reconciling bank and credit card statements. These activities will not only make tax time easy and relatively stress free, but also provide busines owners with a clear picture of their financial health.
For most business owners, getting help from a bookkeeping service or professional is highly recommended. Because of the increased popularity of cloud-based bookkeping software competing with the more powerful, but less geographically flexible desktop software, business owners still have some choices to make. This article provides information about options for businesses using online services and desktop software.
Hire a Bookkeeper to Update Your Books At Your Office
Since QuickBooks Desktop is not cloud-based, a bookkeeper will need to come to you, if you’re working with desktop software (unless you and your bookkeeper are comfortable saving and accessing your QuickBooks file on Dropbox). Arranging a physical meeting obvoiusly means you’ll need to have your bookkeeper in the same city as you.
Many bookkeepers say they prefer working with the desktop version of QuickBooks, because it is more user-friendly when it comes to changing errors in recorded transactions. Others say they prefer the display on QuickBooks desktop. Jim Greer, an Austin-based CPA, says the desktop version allows users to have more than one screen open at a time, making it easy to scroll between reports, bills, or vendor information.
Use a Bookkeeping Service Professional to Update Your Cloud Accounting Software
QuickBooks Online is Intuit’s cloud accounting and bookkeeping product. Like the desktop version, it allows users to create reports, keep track of expenses, and pay bills. But because it’s cloud-based, it can be accessed from anywhere (as long as there is a reliable Internet connection). For some bookkeepers, that instant access makes QuickBooks Online a product they recommend to clients.
“Our clients and our staff can log in from any place with an Internet connection,” says Kim Jackson, a bookkeeper based in Abilene. “A manager/owner can monitor the business wherever they are. We can log in from our office and avoid having to wait on data to prepare the tax return. We can pay their bills, reconcile the bank, and make adjustments while they are perhaps making entries also. One set of books that you never have to worry about a 'cutoff date' and making double sure you are all using the same set of data. And the added bonus that employees can work from home when needed.
“I can tech support a client’s bookkeeper via the phone and see what they are seeing at the same time. No more wasting time driving to the client’s office or having them come here to learn. If they have an issue, I can log in right away and correct it. Quickbooks online is also much more intuitive than the desktop versions. After using the online version you find the desktop versions to be clunky.”
Xero is an alternative to QuickBooks Online that some business owners may consider. Although the number of bookkeeping services that work with Xero is tiny when compared to QuickBooks, the fact that the service is cloud based, makes this more feasible than non-QuickBooks desktop software. Xero lists their certified bookkeeping services on this page. Other cloud bookkeeping and accounting services like Xero bill themselves as an alternative to QuickBooks. Xero has services specifically geared toward small businesses, including tax preparation, payroll, payments, invoicing, bank reconciliation, and budgeting. Xero offers three plans that run from $9 per month to $70 per month.
Use a Full-Service, Online Bookkeeping Service
A third option is to outsource your bookkeeping to a cloud-based service like StartupsCPA. Services like this set up a QuickBooks online account for your business, sync bank and credit card accounts, and send monthly management reports. Add-on services include payroll services and direct deposit and tax return preparation. StartupsCPA costs $150 per month.
Another detail to keep in mind as you’re looking into bookkeeping solutions is how easily the service or professional you choose will be able to integrate with payroll. If you’re using bookkeeping software or a cloud service, it will make life a lot easier if it integrates well with your payroll service or provider.
Some online services integrate better than others; QuickBooks plays well with Intuit Payroll, since they are both owned by the same company. Others, like ZenPayroll, can integrate with Quickbooks and other bookkeeping software like Freshbooks, but may not do it as tightly as a larger provider like Intuit.
Click here to read more about online payroll services.