I would like to offer basic accounting services through my administrative business. I want to offer accounts payable/receivable, payroll, maintaining vendor and customer files, cash management, reconciling bank statements, generating financial reports, etc. I would like to know if you think it is acceptable to gain knowledge in the above areas utilizing free software and simply offer to learn a prospective client’s accounting software since not all businesses use Quickbooks or Quicken. I really want to make my company marketable in this area, and, thus, the reason I am seeking your professional opinion. Thank you in advance for any assistance you can offer me! P.S. Love your FB posts and your attitude toward life!! ~ : ) —GM
Hi, GM 🙂
Glad to have you with us!
Bookkeeping is an entirely different/separate profession from Administrative Consulting.
And because it is a business that comes with even more legal liabilities and pitfalls (because you’re dealing with clients’ finances and their reporting, filing, budgeting, etc., relies on your expert knowledge and accuracy in recording things properly), it’s important to direct those questions to that industry and their communities for the very best, most knowledgeable and authoritative advice.
Several years ago, I used to have a bookkeeping division to my business.
It grew too fast and wasn’t work I ever really intended to be in the business of doing anyway so I eventually got out.
I only ever got into it because I thought it would be a good additional service to provide to clients.
What I didn’t fully grasp at the time is that bookkeeping is a business in and of itself, and trying to run too many businesses at the same time is a recipe for failure and overwhelm.
When you divide your time and distract your attention amongst too many diverse things, you become effective and expert at none of them.
At some point, you have to consciously decide where your true interests lie and focus your energies in developing excellence there.
All that said, when it comes to bookkeeping, I would never, ever take shortcuts with your software. Using the right professional tools is paramount.
For a professional business providing bookkeeping services, Quickbooks Pro is an industry standard and the only option in my book.
Quicken is a shortcut tool more suited for simple, personal accounting, not providing professional bookkeeping services to clients as a business. It doesn’t have the level of capabilities you will need to provide the bookkeeping functions you mention.
Same thing pretty much with Quickbooks Simple Start.
Quickbooks Pro is full-featured, professional-standard software that provides all the capabilities to professionally provide bookkeeping services to clients with all the bells and whistles, including extensive reporting, costing, budgeting and forecasting tools.
Plus, you can’t dumb down your business for clients who insist on working in the dark ages (don’t work with them). They aren’t bookkeepers. They don’t necessarily know what the right software is to use or how to use it properly.
Your job is to work with the right clients who want you to empower their businesses to grow up, not down.
When they come to you for those services, you need tell them what software they need to be using, not changing your tools for each client to suit them.
(Think about it. We hire professionals for their expertise and to do a proper job. Is a contractor going to let clients tell him what tools to use and allow his reputation to be sullied because he used ineffective, sub-par tools that elicited shoddy workmanship? Of course not! He’s going to use the proper tools to do the best job.)
If you don’t, you’ll be dooming your business to ineffective, unproductive, unprofitable operations and forever chasing your tail and pulling your hair out.
Just my six cents. 😉
Great post as usual Danielle. I do plan to offer bookkeeping in my business and I agree that you need to tell your clients what software you will be using. If your client wants you to use another software they can always choose to use another bookkeeping service.
Hi Linda 🙂
I just thought of another important reason to always use the right tools for the job:
I’ve mentioned before about how I had to sue a good friend of 10 years because she seemed to think just because we stopped working together, she was somehow magically absolved of paying me the thousands of dollars she owed me.
In her Answer, she tried to say that one of the reasons she shouldn’t have to pay was that I didn’t adhere to industry standards in some of the design work I did for her.
Which was completely galling because she had specifically asked me not to use the usual programs because then she wanted to be able to edit them herself when she needed to. To accommodate her wishes, I used Word and other programs she had on her computer.
So my attempt to be accommodating and helpful and use non-standard protocols AT HER REQUEST ended up being thrown back in my face.
I got the last laugh, though, because she spent a fortune on her attorney trying to get out of it. I had the emails to prove my position and in the end I won my money.
So the takeaway here is to never let clients tell you what tools to use. First off, it’s not their place both legally and practically speaking, and two, using the wrong, subpar or non-industry standard professional tools can end up coming back to haunt you.
I do bookkeeping services and I always recommend Quickbooks Pro because that is what I know and what I can offer. Not to mention it is fairly popular anyway.
Don’t offer to learn someone else’s program, in other words don’t sell what you haven’t got.
Good Luck to you.
Thank you Danielle,
Great advices and insight.
Good post. I have not started a bookkeeping business yet but I was training myself on 5 different accounting software systems so I could have potential for more business. I realize now that would actually slow me down and make me inefficient.
I am in such agreement with your last comment. That is one rule I will always adhere to. I have gotten a taste of disappointment myself – now there will always be a contract – no matter what!