Small businesses must always choose whether it’s better to do something on their own, or to call in the professionals. You must consider things like budget, flexibility, and practicality before you even begin to consider which option gives the best results. Small business bookkeeping is an especially tricky problem. If you’ve expanded to the point where you don’t need to do your bookkeeping all on your own, then you face a very serious choice. Is it better to bring new employees into the fold and entrust them with your books, or is it better to hire a professional service? If you can afford to hire new employees, you can likely afford some of the biggest packages offered by bookkeeping services, and those services may still be cheaper than hiring a qualified employee. Choosing between bookkeeping services and bookkeeping employees goes beyond their respective price tags, however.
Bookkeeping Services Pros
A bookkeeping service provides multiple pairs of eyes to examine your work. You can rest assured that the best of the best are managing your books. Bookkeeping services are staffed with professionals, and in addition to whatever credentials got them their jobs, they often go through additional training to master whatever bookkeeping software the service uses. For instance, Fourlane’s entire staff is QuickBooks certified. Whoever handles your books doesn’t just understand bookkeeping, they also understand the software, possibly better than you do.
Bookkeeping services provide a range of pricing options so you can add or remove services depending on your needs and budget. This flexibility allows you to shift between packages on a semiannual or even monthly basis, something you can’t reasonably expect of an employee. Along with this range of options, bookkeeping services are far more reliable than individual employees. They are bound by contract to send specific reports and updates on specific days. Even the best lone employees, however, have sick days.
Bookkeeping Employee Pros
The benefit of hiring your own employee, or employees, to do your bookkeeping is the level of control and human interaction you will enjoy. By hiring an actual employee, you don’t have to rely entirely on your computer. You can choose your employee, rather than working alone with pre-developed software. This is especially useful if you run a very unique business with non-traditional sources of income. Employees take orders better than bookkeeping software, and you can have your employees fulfill additional roles when they are not busy with bookkeeping.
Bookkeeping Services Cons
Perhaps the greatest drawback of bookkeeping services is their distance. While employees are immediately on hand and easy to speak with, if your bookkeeping service doesn’t have a good, open line of communication, you can grow very frustrated, very quickly. You need to have access to help if you need it, and if there are any problems, you need to be able to get in touch immediately. Obviously, not all bookkeeping services have this drawback, but this is an important feature to consider before signing up for a service. Another potential negative, of hiring a bookkeeping service is a software update you may or may not want. Most bookkeeping services use a specific software for their work, and in order to really see what the service is doing for you, you need that software on your computer.
Bookkeeping Employee Cons
The two biggest drawbacks of bookkeeping employees are errors and expenses. Even the largest packages from a bookkeeping service typically cost less than hiring an employee for bookkeeping work. Remember, in addition to hourly wages or salary, you must also pay for benefits, handle additional paperwork, and deal with vacation time. Keep in mind that while some services may be difficult to reach, your employee will not always be in the office and is unlikely to come in during the weekend to answer your questions.
As we’ve mentioned before, bookkeeping services provide specially trained bookkeepers who look over your books and ensure everything’s in order. Errors are extremely rare. Hiring a single bookkeeping employee, however, is not only more expensive than hiring a service, but also leaves you open to more errors. After all, a single pair of eyes simply can’t catch as many details as a full staff of professionals can. If you have your employee fulfilling multiple roles, you only increase the chance of costly, bookkeeping errors.
Small business bookkeeping doesn’t have to be difficult. A bookkeeping service can handle your books with more accuracy than any single bookkeeping employee. What’s more, it can do so at significantly lower cost. Although both bookkeeping services and bookkeeping employees may fail to provide the kind of immediate response you desire, bookkeeping services remain more efficient and reliable than employees. Most small business owners already use QuickBooks, but if you don’t, then the software’s cost is still dramatically less than what you would need to pay for even a part time employee. Whether you want the most cost efficient option, or the option that will provide the best results, you should consider hiring a service for your bookkeeping.