So you’re a bookkeeper who is ready to work from your home office, whether as a solo practitioner or as a telecommuter employed by a company. If you haven’t found out already, working from a home office is quite different from working in a traditional office:
not only do you have to supervise yourself, you also have to ensure that you have the right tools for the job. By “tools”, we mean the right physical and virtual choices that help you to work effectively and efficiently with your bookkeeping clients.
Bookkeepers have to perform a number of tasks for their job: they manage the financial records that keep track of a client’s expenditures and income, compute the profit and loss numbers, and oversee the cash flow and all other financial activities.
What are the top five software, hardware, and equipment tools you will need to help you as a bookkeeper perform your various tasks?
1. Ergonomic office furniture. When you outfit your office, invest in the best office furniture you can afford. You will be spending several hours every day in a chair and at your desk. You will be much more productive and tire much less easily when your chair and your desk fit your body type, including your height and your line of vision to everything on your desk. A very good office chair can cost hundreds of dollars, but it is well worth it when you can charge more billable hours because you can produce much more work in less time and with less stress on your body and your eyes.
2. Your computer. These days, it doesn’t matter as much whether you use a PC or a Mac—it is more of personal preference. Most software applications run on either platform, but you should check with your preferred applications to ensure that they are compatible with your computer platform of choice. A larger decision will be whether you use a desktop computer or a laptop. If you know that you will be spending a great portion of your time working away from your home office at various client sites, for example, a laptop may be your best choice. Whichever you choose—desktop or laptop—invest in an additional large auxiliary monitor, again to reduce eyestrain. Working all day on an 11-inch or 13-inch screen will tire your eyes very quickly, especially with the small cells of a spreadsheet.
3. High-speed wireless Internet access. It is expected that professional workers have high-speed wireless Internet for their workplaces. The majority of applications and communication you do with your clients and for the administrative tasks of your business are online, and using a slower wired connection would just slow you down. You want and need to be able to quickly respond to emails, web queries, and document and file transfers.
4. Communications. As a bookkeeper managing the finances of many client businesses simultaneously, your telephone is your lifeline. Most people have cell or mobile phones, and many people run their entire businesses with their cell phones. Depending on your preference and your business model, you may find it beneficial to have a landline phone for your office in addition to your mobile phone, and especially have a separate landline from your home phone. It is always good business to have more than one phone line and a professional voicemail greeting for your one-person business.
5. Software applications. Depending on the preferences or requirements of your clients, you may need to work with specific software applications. But as a bookkeeper, you also have to run your own business, and you may find that online software applications specifically designed for bookkeepers and small independent business owners will be most beneficial to you. Many bookkeepers are transitioning to virtual bookkeeping and accounting applications and online document management applications that can securely and transparently be used in conjunction with many other traditional software applications.
Once you’ve set up your office for optimum efficiency and chosen the right tools to support your daily workflow, you are ready to work from home and be just as effective and productive as if you are working in a traditional office setting.