Your small business needs a bookkeeper.

But do you have the time, space, or income to justify a new hire?

It might be time for you to look into a virtual bookkeeper: someone who can work with you remotely to keep track of your finances day-to-day. With a myriad of bookkeeping software options, plus video conferencing and file sharing technology, it’s easier than ever to get virtual support from someone outside the physical bounds of your office. Read on as we take a look at the pros and cons to hiring a virtual bookkeeper for your business.

Virtual Bookkeeper Pros

Pro: Save Money and Space

Bringing on a full-time employee can be expensive and comes with costs beyond their salary – like benefits and the office space and equipment required to get the job done – that really start to add up.

Hiring a virtual bookkeeper means that you don’t have to find a physical space to house a new person, and since they’re a freelancer, you’re not responsible for providing things like health insurance that an employer would be required to furnish.

Pro: Add an Expert to Your Team

Virtual bookkeepers spend their entire day doing bookkeeping and competing for new business for a variety of companies. This means they’ll know all of the ins and outs of their business, and will be working to increase their own skills daily to remain competitive in their field.

Not only that, but because they get a behind-the-scenes look at how all of their clients manage their respective businesses, they’re constantly gaining new knowledge and best practices that they can apply to the work they do for you.

Pro: The Latest and Greatest Tools

Any time you take on a new responsibility in-house at your company, there’s also the need to bring on the requisite tools and technology to get the job done.

When you hire a freelance virtual bookkeeper, they're responsible for providing the necessary software and for keeping everything up to date. This means one less set of systems and processes for you to worry about internally.

Pro: Access to a Team

If you hire a traditional bookkeeper, there’s the challenge of finding someone who’s the right fit: you don’t want to overpay for someone too senior, but you also want to find someone who’ll be able to manage the necessary tasks as your business continues to grow.

When you hire a virtual bookkeeping team, you’ll be supported by individuals who each represent different areas of expertise and levels of experience, meaning that they will identify which of their team members is best suited to the work you need done and assign them to your account.

Cons of Virtual Bookkeepers

Con: Logistics of Being Offsite

While there are benefits to having someone work virtually, there are also logistical pitfalls that come along with having someone outside of your physical office space. Communication isn’t as effortless as if you’re sitting right down the hall from someone, and it’s easier for wires to get crossed in terms of expectations and deliverables.

When you bring on a virtual bookkeeper, create a concrete schedule and implement monthly check-ins from the start to avoid any miscommunication.

Con: Weakened Data Security

When your bookkeeper is in another location, it’s necessary to use technology to share sensitive financial information with that individual. While most technology companies take security seriously and have safeguards in place, there’s always the chance that someone can access your financial information as it’s being transferred beyond the bounds of your company’s internal network.

When looking into virtual bookkeeping services, be sure to ask what precautionary measures they take to protect against information breaches.

Con: Lack of Insider Knowledge

While a virtual bookkeeper will be highly knowledgeable about the services they provide, they’re not a part of your company. They’re never going to have the level of understanding about your customers and vendors that someone inside your business would have.

To prevent any issues on this front, it’s probably best to institute an approval process whereby you can have the final say before your bookkeeper sends out documents to your clients or vendors directly.

Is a virtual bookkeeper right for you?

If you’re the owner of a growing business who needs bookkeeping support but might not yet be able to bring someone on in-house, a virtual bookkeeper might just be the perfect solution for you. This is a growing field, so be sure to do your research and ask thoughtful questions of your potential bookkeeping team, and you’ll be sure to find the one that’s the best fit for your company’s needs.