Starting your own accounting business can be immensely rewarding. It offers you the chance to use your education, training, and skill for the good of your clientele, all while casting your own vision for how your business should operate. Working as a self-employed accountant can provide enormous flexibility, autonomy, and both personal and professional satisfaction.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy! In fact, starting any kind of a business comes with a number of legal and administrative steps. You’ll need to decide on the structure of your business, and if you opt for an LLC in the US, you’ll need to find a partner like Northwest Registered Agent there to help you out. You’ll also need to think about things like setting up an office space, filing for a business license, staffing, and more.
As you design your accounting firm, one thing to keep top-of-mind is automation. Automation will allow you to work much more smoothly and efficiently in the long run; and the best time to automate is at the very beginning. Start building automation into your processes and routines as early as you can.
What is Accounting Automation?
When we talk about accounting automation, what exactly are we talking about?
Basically, automation refers to the use of technology to streamline or even eliminate some of the more painful, tedious, and time-consuming tasks that accountants have historically performed manually.
Through automation, accountants can minimize or eliminate:
- Manual data entry
- Manual reconciliation of financial statements
- Paying suppliers on an individual or one-at-a-time basis
- Chasing down documents from specific clients
In short, automation allows accounting teams to focus less time on repetitive tasks, and more time on things like team building, client interaction, and professional development.
Why Invest in Accounting Automation?
Focusing on automation at the earliest stages of your accounting business can yield many benefits. Some of the most notable benefits of accounting automation include:
- Time savings, freeing you to focus more on value-adding activities.
- Increased profit margins on certain accounting projects and tasks.
- Minimization or elimination of human error, leading to more accurate results.
- Increased client satisfaction by providing them with faster turnaround times.
- Since automation is usually done in a cloud-based environment, it also provides greater accessibility to datasets, spreadsheets, and projects.
For these and many other reasons, it’s worthwhile to incorporate automation into every aspect of your accounting business. The question is, which tasks can an accounting startup automate?
Accounting Tasks to Automate from Day One
It wasn’t so long ago that business owners had to maintain shoeboxes or accordion folders full of receipts, then manually input those receipts for expense reporting and accounts payable. Now, all of that can be done with automated accounting software. Just think of the time you’ll save by eliminating this tedious, manual data entry!
Once you start hiring employees, you’ll need to start submitting payroll on a regular basis. This is a time consuming task when performed manually, but automation makes it a breeze. Payroll automation software will automatically handle tax deductions and generate the appropriate forms for each employee. Best of all, software solutions can empower you to handle weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly payroll responsibilities in a matter of minutes.
Before the books are closed each month, it’s pretty customary for senior accountants to take some time for a robust review, spotting any inaccuracies, errors, or issues. Of course, this takes a great deal of time and attention, especially for senior accountants who have a great many files to review each month. This process, too, can be automated, with software implemented to scan documents and flag any redundancies, unreconciled items, and other potential issues. Whilst this doesn’t eliminate the need for human review, it can significantly expedite the process.
For new businesses, there’s really nothing more essential than maintaining a healthy cash flow. Of course, a big part of this is ensuring you have revenue coming into the business on a regular basis. If you’re doing manual invoicing, ensuring prompt payment can be time consuming and inconsistent, but accounting automation can help you standardize your process and get more revenue flowing in.
Speaking of cash flow, successful business owners usually try to forecast what their income and expense levels will look like weeks, months, even years into the future. Cash flow forecasting is another labor-intensive task made infinitely easier through automation. The right forecasting solution can enable you to pull data from your accounting software, engage in scenario planning, and provide you with some useful insights to help with your strategic planning.
As accountants know all too well, preparing annual tax returns can sometimes be quite complicated and time-consuming. One way to streamline this process is through automation. Tax planning software will allow you to import a tax return, then use that information to generate different strategies for your business to minimize its tax burden.
Reconciliation is famously tedious, but once more, automation can make your life exponentially easier. Through the right accounting automation platform, you can ensure that your monthly bank statements or credit card statements are checked against your general ledger, alerting you to any issues that need to be resolved.
Moving Forward with Accounting Automation
Of course, we’re only skimming the surface of accounting automation. There are countless tasks that can be entrusted to software, including everything from data entry to social media updates to email marketing.
As you establish your new accounting firm, be on the lookout to incorporate automation strategies early and often. Doing so may help you realize incredible levels of accuracy and efficiency in your business, ultimately benefiting you, your employees, and your clients alike.
Amanda E. Clark is a contributing writer to LLC University. She is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and holds degrees in Journalism, Political Science, and English. She became a professional writer in 2008 and has led marketing and advertising initiatives for several Fortune 500 companies. She has appeared as a subject matter expert on panels about content and social media marketing. She regularly leads seminars and training sessions on trends and tactics in professional writing.Request demo
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