29 Jul 2015

Do I still need an accountant or bookkeeper if I use Xero?

July 29, 2015Bookkeeping

imagesOne of the allures of cloud accounting is that it makes keeping your accounting records more accessible.  Entering payables, managing receivables and reconciling your bank account are now effortless.  It does make you wonder whether you even need an accountant or bookkeeper at all these days!

I often liken it to having a car.  You can operate the car pretty well on your own.  You know how to drive, how to put fuel in it, how to fix a flat – maybe even change the oil.  But unless you were specially trained you wouldn’t try doing much more than that.  You know that there are lots of things that you don’t know, so you pay a mechanic to do routine (and unexpected maintenance) and give you the certificates you need to keep the government happy.  Sure, you could watch you-tube videos until 4 in the morning (every morning) and work out how to do most of what the mechanic does, but you would probably never do it as well as they do.

Having a business and accounting software is not that much difference.  There is SO much that you CAN do.  There is also so much that you could learn to do yourself – all the way to preparing your own accounts, sales tax returns and income tax returns.  But the question is “at what cost?”

riskFirst of all there is the RISK factor.  You just don’t know what you don’t know!  Taxes can be complicated, and there are so many rules and exceptions that it is hard to keep up with them all.  It takes years of constant learning and practice to be able to do this well and not make mistakes.  By taking a DIY approach you could be making costly mistakes.

time-managementSecondly there is the TIME factor.  Every hour you spend working on your books is an hour that you are not building your business.  You didn’t get into business to prepare books, accounts and tax returns.  You got into business to build a lifestyle for you and your loved ones.  Even if you had the time to spend on accounts work I guarantee that there are better uses for it!

stressThirdly there is the STRESS factor.  Most people get anxious about bookkeeping and filing taxes – usually because of the first two factors.  Few people actually enjoy keeping the records up to date.  Why spend you time doing something that gives you heartburn?

BookkeepingFundamental-2Finally there is the COMPLICATION factor.  While modern cloud accounting systems are designed to be easy to use, they are still complex accounting systems.  It is very easy to make a royal mess of these “easy to use” systems – and with no support or guidance you may not even know how big a hole you are digging.

For these reasons we recommend that business owners take a pragmatic approach to their accounting:  do what you have TIME to do BEST and pay someone to do the REST.  If money is tight and time is plenty, then do more of the bookkeeping yourself.  Having an accountant as part of your team gives you the peace of mind that you’re not making stupid mistakes and things are getting filed on time and correctly.  Once your business reaches the point where your time is more profitably spent doing something (anything) other than bookkeeping then delegate that aspect as well.

At Fuel Accounting we help clients at the level that they are most comfortable with.  We have a range of service levels that help you get the most out of your accounting system and your time.  We can provide the level of service that you can afford, and then grow with you.  We don’t see ourselves as traditional accountants.  Unlike most accountants we won’t “sell” you a tax return – we prefer to build a relationship with you that helps you grow and manage your business.

Our service roles are:

  • Mechanic: Xero live support, training and consulting – help just for immediate problem – in and out with no long term commitment or relationship
  • Pit Crew: We help oversee your Xero system with live support, regular tune ups and adjustments to get things cleaned up, legal boxes ticked and taxes filed at the end of the year – this is a year-round relationship that deepens as your needs develop
  • Engineer: We work with you to perform your bookkeeping and ensure that your business engine is running smoothly every month (as well as at year end) – this is an active partnership
  • Navigator: We help you drive your business and coach you into those nasty turns.  You’re still the driver, but we help you grow your business.

To find out how our unique approach to business and accounting can help you, please book your free appointment here.