You don't need a bookkeeper - just a better system

Your bookkeeping is a critical piece of your business information — but with the right system, you probably don’t need an actual bookkeeper.

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Bookkeeping is becoming automated

In the next few years, bookkeeping as we know it will no longer exist. A 2015 PwC Study found that accounting clerks and bookkeepers are the number one job at risk of being automated, with a 97.5% chance of their jobs being automated within the next 20 years.

Unless you’re a bookkeeper, that’s pretty good news. That means you get to stop worrying about someone you don’t know all that well (or might not be all that qualified) looking at your books. You can stop worrying about finding the right fit, trying to figure out if they know what they’re doing, or being at risk for fraud. Yay!

What it also means is that you, as a business owner, will be doing your own books. Sort of.

Artificial intelligence (AI) will be helping you out — a lot. Companies like Xero are already investing heavily in machine learning and AI to make your bookkeeping easier to handle on your own.

For example, in Xero, the software can suggest the appropriate account to classify your transaction to, based on the description you type — and it will remember your preferences.

Or, take botkeeper.com. They’re already starting to harness artificial intelligence as a complete bookkeeping solution. Using machines to do bookkeeping is faster, more accurate, more secure, and cheaper.

The right tools for the right job

Whether you decide to handle your books yourself with the help of software like Xero, or if you go with an AI service like botkeeper, making sure you have the right system, and that it’s set up properly will make a huge difference.

Here are some of my favorite tools for streamlining the bookkeeping process (and they all easily integrate with Xero, my first recommendation):

Xero — cloud accounting software

Xero is user-friendly, comprehensive cloud accounting software. It incorporates machine learning, has payment services included and a kick-ass mobile app to allow you to update your bookkeeping from any device, at any time.

Check out my comparison of Xero and Quickbooks Online here

Gusto — Payroll & HR

Gusto is hands-down the easiest way to pay your employees and US contractors. You can use Gusto to automate your on-boarding process, and they automatically complete all your new hire paperwork, pay your taxes, and issue W-2/1099s. Customer service is awesome (they’re super-friendly), and they now even have a premium plan that includes HR support.

Practice Ignition — proposals, contracts, and payments

Practice Ignition is a client engagement platform that allows you to send digital proposals and engagement letters. The part that really sets the platform apart from others, though, is the automatic payments feature. You can use the system to automatically process both one-time and recurring payments, using credit cards or ACH transfers. It’s pretty much a one-stop shop for client management.

Entryless — Bill Management

Entryless is a HUGE time saver if you have a lot of incoming bills. The software uses optical character recognition (OCR) to “read” all the information on your bills, enter the vendor info, classify the transaction and then push all that information into Xero as a bill to be paid. You can also use the software to manage bill payment.

HubDoc — All your financial docs in one place

HubDoc will automatically fetch your bank statements, receipts and bills, import them into Xero and set up an organized online file system to store them for you, in case of an audit. No more paper files or filing cabinets and no more time spent logging into all your systems to get your bills and statements.

MileIQ — automatic mileage tracking

If you drive anywhere for your business, mileage tracking is just a pain in the butt. Download the MileIQ app to your phone; it will automatically record your drives and create accurate mileage reports (with backup for audit purposes).

Set yourself up for success

As with any system, the devil is really in the details. All the tools above integrate with Xero, which can operate as the hub of your accounting system, but you do have to connect them to get the maximum benefit. Data will flow from one system to another, seamlessly, when it’s set up correctly.

Do yourself a favor, take the time to set each system up right (or hire someone like ScaleSpark to do it for you) and you’ll easily be able to operate your system, without a bookkeeper.

When it’s set up properly, you should be able to handle all your bookkeeping in just a few minutes a month, from your phone, anywhere in the world.

Real-time information about your business, at your fingertips. Without a bookkeeper.