For business owners trying to outsource bookkeeping, the options are plentiful. We researched some popular online providers and here's what we found.
For any business to be successful, its books need to be kept in order. This might be an intimidating task for small business owners, freelancers, or entrepreneurs in general especially when the business is just beginning or still in its early stages of development. It is especially important in the early stages to invest in the correct avenues, and you don’t need us to tell you how important a good investment is. Starting out, most business owners cannot afford a CPA or a personal accountant, and that is okay. With growth comes expanded resources and assistance. But starting out bookkeeping, unless you’re already savvy at it, can be an extremely intimidating task. We’ve done some of the hard work for you and researched bookkeeping services that you may utilize if you’re just starting out and can’t afford a personal, professional accountant.
Bench is an online bookkeeping service which prides itself on being “America’s largest bookkeeping service for small businesses.” If you are an individual who feels more comfortable working alongside a large business, then Bench is an excellent choice for you. Bench works by pulling financial information, reconciling it, and preparing it into monthly statements for you. The monthly reports are easy to understand and are accompanied with meaningful visuals. Bench also provides a year-end package to assist you in filing your taxes.
Bench bills for services monthly after a free trial. Services range in accordance to your business’ size and needs. At one end, monthly expenses less than $7,500 fall under the ‘Micro’ category and will cost you $115-135 monthly to manage through Bench. On the opposing end, monthly expenses up to $1 million fall under the ‘Corporate’ category and will cost you $295-335 monthly to manage through Bench.
Bench also provides a variety of services outside of their monthly bookkeeping packages. If you own more than one business, Bench can provide you with a custom quote for bookkeeping services. As your business grows, Bench analyzes your growth yearly and adjusts your plans according to your changing needs. And if you’re behind on your books when you come to Bench, they’ll retroactively work your books for an additional cost.
How does Bench view itself against its competitors? “We designed our service to take the pain out of bookkeeping. You don’t just get access to the Bench app—bookkeeping software for small business owners that’s intuitive and delightful to use. You also get your own team of professional bookkeepers. Real people who do your bookkeeping every month, all at an affordable price.”
Pilot is a bookkeeping service which “takes care of your bookkeeping from start to finish so you can focus 100% on making your business succeed.” Pilot is a service developed by owners of start-ups and built for owners of start-ups. Finding congruence with your bookkeeping service can give you confidence and make you feel more comfortable working with a group of like-minded individuals. Pilot explains that it is made for start-ups because of its ability to save you time while saving you money. Additionally, they “have customers who’ve been with us from seed to series C.” Pilot watches your business grow and adapts to your changing needs.
Pilot works by assigning you an ‘Account Manager’ who will remain your account manager throughout your time with Pilot. Similarly to Bench and most bookkeeping services, information is automatically sent to Pilot and reports are generated monthly. Pilot is unique in that it practices accrual bookkeeping in addition to cash bookkeeping, meaning it is able to determine when money is earned or owed.
Pilot offers two plans of service. ‘Pilot Core’ which is ideal for small businesses starts $195/month and goes up to $795/month depending on monthly expenses, $0 to $200,000 respectively. ‘Pilot Plus’ is built for complex companies, e.g. multiple offices, multiple entities, or special revenue recognition. Pilot Plus starts at $1,000/month and is dependent on the unique needs of your business.
Pilot offers several other services in addition to bookkeeping. Pilot’s account managers set up software (such as QuickBooks) related to bookkeeping for you. Pilot helps to select vendors for payroll, billing, and reimbursements. Pilot also coordinates with outside tax services in addition to preparing your end of year documents.
Pilot states that they are a service suited for start-ups, technology companies, and nonprofits with 1-300 employees. As a company built by those who have run start-ups, customer service is one of their strong suits, and they provide a great deal of support for small business owners by 24/7 support, individualized account management, and much more.
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Acuity is the third bookkeeping service we’ll discuss today. Acuity says that its unique qualities lie in its people. Acuity not only uses bookkeepers, but they also employ CFOs and controllers based on your business’ needs. They are also unique in their affinity for technology. They partner with a multitude of cloud companies and “hold more accounting technology certifications than any other firm in the U.S.” Acuity focuses not only on bookkeeping but also on specific services which focus on cleaning up finances, accounting, and CFO services.
Out of the three options that we have researched, Acuity is different in its pricing and billing. One service, ‘Clean Up,’ utilizes a cleanup specialist to retroactively balance your books and give you recommendations for moving forward. Clean Up prices at $105/hour. Another service, ‘Bookkeeping,’ manages transactions and delivers monthly reports like traditional bookkeeping services. Bookkeeping ranges from $299/month for monthly bookkeeping or $399/month for weekly bookkeeping. Acuity offers accounting services starting at $105/hour and CFO services starting at $225/hour.
Acuity also specializes in ‘Crypto Accounting.’ They work specifically with business who operate or work in industries who are using cryptocurrencies or blockchain technology. They have an excellent track record in managing cryptocurrency businesses, and their website offers many resources for individuals in the cryptocurrency industry.
Aside from their services, Acuity operates a blog on their site which is absolutely full of resources for small business owners. They provide a great deal of content on managing the financial side of your business. They also provide downloadable content and access to webinars on financial education.
Wrapping It Up
In all, there are many services out there for managing your business’ books. We’ve provided information on just three of the most popular bookkeeping services, Bench, Pilot, and Acuity. In addition to our analysis, be sure to do your homework and continue to investigate bookkeeping services to find the one that fits your business and your own personal preferences. Bookkeeping can be extremely intimidating when starting a business from scratch, but with the right tools and the right support, managing your books can be made easy.