If you're a freelance bookkeeper, do you feel like your capacity is at its limit and you're struggling to figure out how you can possibly take on more clients without losing your mind? Optimizing your bookkeeping business is one of the few ways you can serve more clients without hiring staff.
But how, exactly?
Here are 5 quick tips to help you get more done with less stress.
1. Stop traveling to your client's office
Too many independent bookkeepers I talk to are still physically traveling to their clients' offices to get the work done, or even to just pick up and drop off paperwork. While face-to-face contact is a great way to build relationships, it's terribly inefficient for simply doing the bookkeeping.
Leverage online technology and start working virtually instead. Let your clients know that you are using a new system that brings win-win efficiency to how you'll handle their bookkeeping. I'd recommend moving toward remote services gradually, and laying out a plan that is implemented over a few months' time.
Focus on the convenience to the client of using web-based services. (See the free ebook at the end of this article for more step-by-step info on how to work virtually with your clients)
2. Go paperless
One of the biggest slowdowns to working virtually with clients is trying to figure out how to move from paper-based documents to online documents. While it may mean changing some habits, nowadays it's much easier than ever before. If you need receipts from clients, simply get them in the habit of forwarding you email receipts and snap photos of paper documents with their smart phone.
Of course, if your clients have lots of documents (some of which might be sensitive) this may not be the best way to ‘optimize' – so consider using online secure document management tools instead (personally, I use SmartVault with all of my clients, and love it!)
3. Use cloud-based software
Part of the inefficiencies with desktop software, whether you are doing the bookkeeping at your clients' offices or on your own computer, is that the information is not always easily accessible, either to you or your client.
To solve this issue, especially in our mobile society, some have opted to host desktop software online. But I've found in my own practice the most economical and easiest solution is to simply use web-based bookkeeping software. QuickBooks Online and Xero are the most popular options here in the US, but there are many others too.
The idea is that your efficiency dramatically improves when you use web-accessible software. Your clients become more independent and proactive about getting the info they need in real time, and communication becomes easier for training and answering questions because you're literally on the same page no matter where you are.
4. Use Profit First as cash management for YOUR business, then your clients
This is a low-tech tip that optimizes your bookkeeping business from the inside out.
I've found Profit First to be the most effective yet simple way to get the most from every dollar you earn and optimize your financial stability, no matter how long you've had your practice.
The newest edition of the book has just been released and shows you how to guarantee your profitability from your next deposit forward. Once you see how it works (the real learning is in the doing), you'll dramatically build your financial confidence. Then you'll be in a great position to help your clients in a tangible way that will make them sing your praises. That puts you on a whole new professional level as a bookkeeper and you may want to get certified and join Profit First Professionals.
5. Avoid bright shiny app syndrome
Once you step into the virtual bookkeeping world, it is easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of apps you can use (and pay monthly for) in the hopes of making your bookkeeping services more efficient.
Piling on the apps is not only expensive, it will send you down very time-consuming rabbit holes and leave you exhausted. Take a minimalist approach to choosing apps instead. In fact, I've developed a 6-step process that starts with the RESULTS you're trying to get for you and your clients and will save you a ton of headaches. (Yep, you can learn that process in the free ebook at the end of this article too)
For general guidance, above my desk I have a drawing that illustrates the futility of trying to go in multiple directions all at the same time. The caption to that picture is “Less Means More.” It's taken from the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown and is there as a constant reminder that optimizing my business means doing just a few things that work really well.
Did you see a tip here that if you focused on it, it would make a difference and move your bookkeeping business toward a more optimized (and profitable) operation?
If you feel that going virtual is your best path too, but you need more details on HOW put it into practice, then I think you'll like the free new ebook that we've released this month in collaboration with SmartVault called, “The Bookkeeper's Guide to the Virtual Galaxy”
Optimize and Prosper…starting now!
What are your tips for optimizing bookkeeping business operations?