Why You Should Take Your Accounting Business Online, and How

Why You Should Take Your Accounting Business Online, and How

Author: Kelly Gonsalves

There’s still a ton of push-back in the accounting space when it comes to change.

With cloud accounting and online services leading the way, and legacy firms taking on roles and responsibilities far from punching numbers, it’s hard to see how anyone could be offline.

But surprisingly, a lot of accountants, bookkeepers, and even firms are.

I have some experience with this. My first introduction to bookkeeping and accounting wasn’t online, but with QuickBooks desktop.

After I decided to start my own business in 2015, I knew that online services were best for me. I can reach all my clients anywhere at anytime, work from wherever and whenever I need to, and my processes are automated.

I saved time, money, and stress by taking my business online.

If you’re like me and are on the fence about taking the big leap into the cloud or online world, it’s not as scary as it seems.

In just three steps, you can do exactly what I did.

1. Go All the Way?

You’ve heard “go big or go home,” right? Forget it.

The world doesn’t work that way, and neither do your clients.

From my experience, a lot of the reason why many accountants continue to use desktop applications and offline programs is because their clients are offline. Many don’t want to be the beacon of change for their clients, or are happy in their bubble with the way things are.

Guess what? You don’t have to force them to go online.

Taking your accounting or bookkeeping business to the web isn’t an all or nothing game. Depending on client needs, you may want to be as flexible as possible, a hybrid of on and offline.

Even if you want to dip your toes in for now, and maybe commit later, you can do that.

For me, online was the only option. My clients all know the rules, and I don’t budge. If you aren’t willing to try being online, I’m probably not the right fit for you.

So, choose what you’re willing to bring online, and what you aren’t. Online banking has changed our world…we now have access to bank statements and check images even faster….start there! Running payroll that is connected to a bank account online allows you to hold your cash even longer.

The main thing to do is just give it a shot. Take your practice online using Quickbooks Online for Accountants (QBOA), or whichever accounting software you prefer. From there, you can still use desktop for certain clients and processes.

2. Moving Your Clients Online

Once you’ve decided to take the plunge, wade, or stick your feet into the online accounting world, the next step is introducing it to your clients.

You’ll probably have some clients that are willing to go with the flow, and won’t cause you any problems.

But, there will definitely be some holdouts. Again, it could be fear of change, the alleged “inconvenience of switching,” or any number of things.

Clearly I’m biased. I love my business being online, and I have some great clients that have come along for the ride. There was some pushback, but, at the end of the day, I’ve created my business my way.

In all honesty though, it’s easier than ever to onboard your clients, and to bring whichever processes they need online.

A lot of the things that gave the transition from desktop to online a bad reputation (loss of information like memorized transactions, divvying up opening balance equities) have sorted themselves out in recent years.

It takes literally minutes to move your client’s files online.

Depending on what you and they decide goes online, you’ll probably want to take full advantage of the platform by using the apps within QBOA or another online accounting service. QBOA now allows ProAdvisors to see and choose apps for their clients.

That’s where the real fun starts.

3. Explore the App Store

This is still one of my favorite parts of bringing on new clients and services.

The QBOA App Store makes it as easy as possible to find exactly what you and your client needs. All you have to do is search any keyword for what you’re trying to fix.

For example, searching “receipt management” will bring up things like Receipt Bank,Expensify, and more.

Searching “payroll” will give you 89 apps to choose from just on Quickbooks. Yes, 89 payroll options that integrate with QBO!

“International payments:” Veem pops right up. BOOM!

It’ll tell you which apps are available in your region (whether you’re in the US, Canada, or elsewhere), and a bunch more information about apps you might never have heard of.

That’s the other great part of the app store for any online accounting service: you don’t have to go with the most popular app right off the bat.

You may discover things others aren’t using, but may end up being a great fit for you.

I’m not going go to too far into specifics here, you’ll have to check out my next column: How to Build an App Stack.

The important thing to know here is how easy and productive just perusing the app store can be. That’s how I found the majority of my own app stack not only to help my clients, but to help me run by business better.

That’s the crucial thing about bringing your accounting practice online. Regardless of your client base, at least bringing your processes online or into the cloud will make your business run smoother, better, and more efficiently.

This doesn’t even include the benefits of social media, blogging, and other online activities to boost your business’ reach. That’s an article for another day.

If you’re new to this, start small, take these steps one by one, and you’ll gradually find out how far you want to go, and if online is right for your business.

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Kelly Gonsalves