Fascinating topic. Do keep us informed!
So nobody has anything to contribute to this?
au contraire! I am a virtual bookkeeper and there are LOTS of us out there! The virtual assistant field is growing in leaps and bounds and if you look on nearly all professional social media forums you will find virtual bookkeepers (as well as other virtual specialties). If I had more time, I would have more clients; there is not a shortage of them, at all!! The key is to look at 'target markets.'
A mid-size to large business is better off to have an in-house accountant and/or bookkeeper. However, for small businesses and entrepreneurs/consultants a 'remote' bookkeeper is a practical way to get professional services without hiring an employee. As a virtual bookkeeper, I am hired by my clients on an as-needed basis. Therefore, the majority of my clients only need my services 5-10 hours/week and some as few as 10 hours/month. This also gives me the flexibility of choosing WHO I wish to work with rather than being stuck with 'the boss from hell' as their employee and allows me the flexibility of working WHEN I wish to, rather than being locked into someone else's schedule.
The Virtual Office Goddess, LLC
Thanks for the thought -- it's given me a lot to think over. I read your website and I agree completely with your business approach, however, I am facing a slightly different problem.
I am pushing for an entire virtual accounting department to be off-site and virtual. So marketing the idea is making it almost a completely nightmare.
Just curious, how do you market your approach? In St. Louis, people are almost afraid to embrace any other idea than an accountant/bookkeeper who is on-site
I'm in Boulder, CO and folks tend to be a little more open-minded here! I started out five years ago with postcard marketing, followed up by phone calls to 'check if they received my postcard and have any questions.' The majority of my clients now come from a combination of social networking (both on- and off-line) and word-of-mouth. I refined my target market from 'all entrepreneurs/solo-preneurs' to 1 year old start-ups and one-person law firms (among the other industries I have worked in, I have a background in bookkeeping for law offices).
Keep in mind that if you're talking 'virtual/remote' work, you may be marketing in the wrong area. I like to point out that one of the advantages of being virtual is that I may LIVE in Boulder but I can target clients across the country, not just in my own area.
The Virtual Office Goddess, LLC
Having employees in one's business who are not present on-site is fairly new to some people. Others have had remote employees for a while now. But one of the biggest tasks is to communicate. Communicate frequently. Communicate clearly. Have very clear expectations. And enter the employee/employer agreement with a signed contract. Ask for your remote employees to give you feedback.
Often people will enter a remote workplace with unclear expectations. A person, working remotely, must be task orientated, be able to work with little supervision, have an assigned workplace in their home, etc. Friends should be told work hours so phone calls and doorbell ringing is kept to a minimum. Some will try working remotely and discover that it is not for them.
If both parties are able to work out a good working relationship, everyone wins and isn't that what we are all working towards?
I've been busy working on the idea of Virtual Accounting/Bookkeeping -- in short "Outsourcing an Accounting Department" except this is a means to do outsourcing. In any case, I have been working hard to gain public support for the idea and to have clients agree to sign on to such a new train of thoughts.
The usage of "Virtual" terminals have only been refined for roughly 3 to 4 years and already, it presents massive cost savings to a company. Small businesses can now afford an entire accounting department that can grow to fit. Businesses in New York or Calcutta can find accountants across the world for a fraction of the costs due to difference in standard of living.
But the best part is, the quality has not suffered any! The accountants work, pride, and ethics are still exactly the same and perfectly intact. But here is where I need some help.
1) So many people are comfortable with their accountant that they refuse to switch -- even if a better and more cost effective technique drops onto their lap
2) Many people still believe this it too good to be true and thus, refuse to try the new idea
3) Those who are entertaining the notion, want more conclusive studies to be done first -- so where do I find volunteers?
Any help would be fantastic! Also, if you have questions, I have lectured extensively on this at Chamber of Commerce, Universities, and just short of a soap box on a street corner