When you’re running a business, determining where to spend your money can be a difficult decision. All businesses, but especially small businesses, look to make informed decisions on expenditures. With the growth of technology and software, some small business owners are opting to save money by doing their own bookkeeping. But is this option for everyone? No. Consider the pros and cons of diving into performing your business’s bookkeeping duties before you consider yourself a savvy spender.
CPAs vs bookkeepers
There are numerous functional differences between the roles and responsibilities of CPAs versus bookkeepers. While the two often work closely together to fulfill client needs, they are not interchangeable. Bookkeepers manage the day-to-day financial operations of the business. This includes recording all types of transactions related to money moving in and out of the company. This role also usually encompasses invoicing, bill paying and payroll processing. Additionally, bookkeepers prepare reports, both monthly and yearly, to provide a clear picture of the business’s financial standing.
CPAs, on the other hand, are accountants that have passed the certification requirements of their state’s accounting board. This certification outlines the minimums on education and experience before these accountants can perform their role of advising business owners and preparing financial statements. An accountant will utilize the reports prepared by a bookkeeper to interpret the immediate and projected financial health of the business, as well as advise owners on financial decisions. CPAs are required to stay up-to-date on the latest laws and regulations that affect your businesses finances.
Accounting software cannot replace the knowledge and experience of your CPA. However, some businesses are seeking to replace their bookkeepers with modern bookkeeping technology. These computer applications aim to automate your financial processes, and the best versions do so by connecting the software to your business’s bank account and credit cards. When choosing a software, it’s also important to find a system that is capable of generating necessary financial reports. Both Quickbooks Online from Intuit and Xero are ranked high as software for small business accounting and bookkeeping. FreshBooks and Zoho Books are also in the top rankings, although FreshBooks is best for freelancers because of its strong invoicing tools and Zoho is best for really small businesses. All have monthly plans that are similar in price.
Be cautious about that sticker price and take it at face value. While these automated tools may seem like simple, cheaper solutions than hiring a bookkeeper, there are some variables to consider. First, not all of these applications are easy to use or quick to learn. What is your time worth? Most business owners have a full plate of duties and responsibilities, so adding bookkeeping to that agenda can be a taxing endeavor. In which case, it may pay more dividends to enlist an expert. The money that automated bookkeeping services may save you could be eaten up by the time that it costs you to become familiar with it. These programs, while automated, are not one hundred percent reliable. There may be occasional downtime for updates and maintenance to the program. Also, it can difficult to know all the functions you will require from software when you start out doing your own bookkeeping, and customer service for these platforms is not created equal. Don’t jump into this decision lightly, and consider the pros and cons for yourself and your business by trying to tackle the task of doing your own bookkeeping.