Starting a virtual bookkeeping business is an excellent idea if you’re looking for a flexible and scalable side hustle or online business. Kicking off your business is probably even easier than you thought, and this guide explains what virtual bookkeeping is, what these bookkeepers do, how it works, the benefits for business owners and bookkeepers, how to get started, and more.
Keep reading to learn the basics about virtual bookkeeping and what you need to know to get started.
What Are Virtual Bookkeeping Services?
Virtual bookkeeping means categorizing, reconciling, and recording financial transactions online using cloud-based software. Virtual bookkeeping is also referred to as online bookkeeping or remote bookkeeping.
On the basic level, virtual bookkeepers record daily financial transactions for a business, and they do it all remotely instead of working on-site.
Bookkeepers who work virtually record how money moves in and out of a company on a daily basis. That’s the most important thing to understand about their role, and they're responsible for tasks like:
- Managing payroll
- Collecting payments
- Receiving and recording receipts
- Reimbursing work-related expenses
- Checking financial records for accuracy
- Updating financial records
- Creating financial reports
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How Does Virtual Bookkeeping Work?
Virtual bookkeepers work online and remotely for their clients, and this is a distinguishing feature. Instead of working on-site as they reconcile bank and credit card accounts and process payroll, online bookkeepers do everything remotely using cloud-based accounting software.
The way a virtual bookkeeper works with their clients is by giving them online access to their financial accounts, documents, and server, in some instances. The bookkeeper logs into their clients’ accounts from wherever they are, and then works online.
Benefits of Virtual Bookkeeping
Overall, virtual services are convenient for both the bookkeeper and business owner because of the extreme flexibility. It’s a practical alternative to on-site bookkeeping, and as more and more business moves to virtual spaces, it becomes even more common for bookkeepers and their clients to work together.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of virtual bookkeeping for both bookkeepers and businesses:
Benefits for Bookkeepers
- Be your own boss. Even though you’re contracting services out to clients, you set your own rates, work with the clients you want, and work from wherever.
- Flexible way to work. Like other remote freelancers, virtual bookkeepers pick the hours they want, meaning you can easily start and grow this on the side of your full-time job, while you’re raising your kids at home, etc.
- Help businesses grow. Bookkeepers help small businesses reach their full potential.
- Scalability. Bookkeeping is a career path that’s suited for growth because you can start small and grow your service offerings, launch an agency, scale with your clients, and more.
Overall, working as a virtual bookkeeper provides more flexibility than working as an in-person bookkeeper because you can choose the hours you work, where you work, and you can work with clients anywhere in the world. Honestly, the benefits are the same for most online businesses!
Benefits for Businesses
- Cloud software makes sharing easier. Receipts can be shared seamlessly with software like Dropbox, Google Docs, and Microsoft OneDrive, and business owners can grant bookkeepers access to POS systems, accounts, and more.
- Pay only for the work needed. Businesses can hire out for one-time tasks easier with a virtual bookkeeper.
- Cost effective. Remote bookkeepers save money on office space, benefits, and other things that come with full-time or on-site employees
Beyond those big ones, virtual bookkeepers provide the same benefits as on-site bookkeepers in that they help organize income sources, track the flow of money, update payments, and more.
How To Become a Virtual Bookkeeper
Bookkeeping is one of our favorite side hustles and online jobs because it’s such a low-cost option. There are minimal requirements and a lot of potential, if you’re interested in becoming a virtual bookkeeper, here’s an overview of the steps it takes to get started:
Step 1: Decide between a freelance bookkeeping business and working for a bookkeeping agency
Working as a freelance bookkeeper means you’re an independent business owner who contracts out your services to other business owners. It’s easy to get started, but you’re on your own when it comes to finding clients.
Step 2: Learn required bookkeeping skills
You’ll need to learn how to:
- Create and use spreadsheets
- Use bookkeeping software, like Xero and Quickbooks
- Understand technical jargon
- Differentiate entity types for tax purposes
- Reconcile and balance accounts
- Communicate with your clients
Step 3: Find virtual bookkeeping work
You’ve got several options for paid bookkeeping work:
- Job boards: FlexJobs, ZipRecruiter, SimplyHired, and more — these sites share legitimate, online job postings.
- Freelance job boards: Sites like Fiverr and Upwork are designed specifically for freelance work, and you can learn more about each in our Upwork Review and Fiverr Review.
- Use LinkedIn: This is a great platform for networking with business owners and others in the bookkeeping community.
Step 4: Decide if you want to become a certified bookkeeper
A certification isn’t necessary to work as a successful bookkeeper, but the upside is that it tells potential clients that you have an industry-standard education. You’ll need a minimum of 2,000 hours of experience before pursuing a certification, so it’s something you have time to think about. When you’re ready, you can explore certification through the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers or National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers.
Start a Virtual Bookkeeping Business
If you’ve been thinking about becoming a bookkeeper, now’s the time to start. There are minimal start-up costs, flexible working hours, room for growth, and pay ranges from $20 to $40/hour. And starting has never been easier with the Brilliant Bookkeeper course. This start-to-finish course is designed for beginners in mind, and will give you the confidence and skills required to launch your virtual bookkeeping business. Learn more here at Brilliant Bookkeeper.
Using cloud-based software, virtual bookkeepers reconcile bank accounts, manage payroll, create financial reports, update financial records, collect payments, record receipts, and more. Essentially, virtual bookkeepers do everything an on-site bookkeeper does, but it’s done remotely.
The cost of virtual bookkeeping services varies based on the needs of the business and experience of the bookkeeper, but the general range is from $20 to $40/hour.
Yes, remote bookkeeping can be a very profitable online business. Bookkeepers are in demand for businesses, self-employed people, and personal clients because they provide a valuable service that helps their clients save time and money,