Tips for Solo Virtual Bookkeeping Successby
You can have a successful bookkeeping practice without having a big team. In fact, some bookkeepers create their virtual bookkeeping practices with the intent of never having employees. Here, Billie Anne Grigg of Profit First Professionals explains how you can achieve this goal.
There’s something blissful about your business being “all you.” But that bliss can turn to burnout if you don’t implement the right measures.
The following six tips will help you, the solo virtual bookkeeper, wear all the hats in your business successfully and with minimal stress.
Tip #1: Outsource
I know, I know…you don’t want a team. But you can have a solo bookkeeping practice without having to go it alone.
Instead of outsourcing client work – which does require building a team – consider outsourcing administrative tasks, such as:
- Website design and maintenance
- Your practice’s bookkeeping
- Personal tasks that take you away from building and maintaining your business
When you outsource tasks that aren’t in your sweet spot, you free your time and brainpower to focus on the things in your business that only you can do.
Tip #2: Leverage technology
If you’re a solo bookkeeper, you must become a power user of technology. Every solo bookkeeper should have:
- A scheduling link (Acuity, Calendly, etc.)
- An automated onboarding system (Dubsado, 17Hats, etc.)
- A simple workflow system (Asana, Trello, etc.)
- Rules enabled in their accounting software to automatically post recurring client transactions
- Templates for routine communication, like requests for information from clients. Gmail and Outlook both support templates and canned responses.
Like outsourcing, leveraging technology to automate as much as possible frees you to focus on what’s truly important in your business.
Tip #3: Set strong boundaries
For whatever reason, many business owners treat solo bookkeepers like employees who they expect to be at their beck and call.
Setting strong boundaries reduces the likelihood of this happening. Establish and communicate the following to your clients:
- Your regular business hours, including the holidays you observe
- Your communication policy (turnaround time for emails, phone messages, etc.)
- Your turnaround time for special requests
- The expected delivery date for their financials each month
- Implementing a rush fee for any “emergency” requests
- Not giving your personal cell phone number to clients (use Google Voice or Phone.com for a business number you can use for calls and texts)
- Not notifying clients in advance of a planned vacation. Instead, set an autoresponder letting clients know you are out of the office and when you will reply to them. If you manage payroll for your clients, include a note in the autoresponder letting clients know their payroll will be processed as usual.
Remember, even though you are a solo bookkeeper, you are still a professional running a business. These boundaries will help reinforce this to your clients and yourself.
Tip #4: Fall in love with time blocking
When you wear all the hats in your business, you must budget your time. Time blocking is the best way to make sure the important doesn’t fall victim to the urgent.
Block out your calendar for the following activities:
- Client work
- Email management
- Sales calls
- Marketing management (even if you’ve outsourced it)
- Continuing education
- Research and development
Some solo bookkeepers find it beneficial to have open “office hours” for their clients a couple of times a week. This is simply an open Zoom meeting clients can pop into to ask impromptu questions. Not only does this help you manage your time, but it also helps reinforce those boundaries you set in Tip #3.
Tip #5: Specialize in a niche
Niche specialization is a top tip for firms of all sizes.
For a solo bookkeeping practice, it’s essential.
Niche specialization will help you streamline your technology stack, increase your efficiency, and maximize your marketing efforts. Additionally, those who specialize gain expert status, meaning they can charge more for the work they do. As a solo bookkeeper, your time is at a premium…take advantage of niche specialization to earn the most money in the least amount of time.
Tip #6: Have a backup plan
No one wants to think about the worst-case scenario, but solo bookkeepers must have a backup plan for if the worst happens. Create a network of trusted colleagues who can step in and manage your client workload if you are out of commission for a short – or not-so-short – while. This will give both you and your clients peace of mind.
You don’t have to have a large team – or any team at all – to have a successful bookkeeping practice. But you do have to have the right tools and strategies in place to help you manage the many hats you’ll wear as a solo bookkeeper. These six tips will help you run your business instead of finding yourself with a business that runs you
Billie Anne Grigg will be speaking at AccountingWEB Live Summit this May. She has been a bookkeeper since before the turn of the century (this one, despite what her children think). She is a QuickBooks Online ProAdvisor, LivePlan Expert Advisor, and a Mastery Level Certified...