When Googling virtual bookkeepers or bookkeeping
Bench.co is one of the first names you will see. They are a great company and one that we will recommend to clients that need minimal help and want to ensure they are always ready for tax season. Contractors that are just starting out or are okay with being a one-person show can greatly benefit from Bench’s services.
Their limitations, however, mean that Bench.co may not be the bestoption for everybody; in fact, most pros need more advanced services than what Bench.co is able to offer. So, when looking for accounting services, what is the best fit for you? First, you need to determine the required support, insight provided, breadth of services, and the tax advice you want.
Bench assigns you to a bookkeeper
which you can message through their system or set up a virtual call-in to talk with them, providing you quick access to find out information. However, you are unable to email the bookkeeper or call them directly, so if you prefer phone conversations on your time at your whim, it is not available to you.
Furthermore, while you have an assigned bookkeeper, which is better than other virtual accounting services out there, they do not work in a team resulting in you having to wait your turn to talk with your bookkeeper. This is due to having fewer people available who know your account and can work with you. It also regularly leads to more errors as not as many people cross-check and ensure accuracy in your books.
A major benefit of Bench is ensuring that your business’s finances are in good order to assist in making tax filing easier for you. Tax filing is a struggle for most businesses, and they either file late or neglect to file at all, resulting in them not being able to maximize theirdeductions. The age of bookkeeping for tax purposes is long gone, but the information you can gain from regularly reviewing and understanding your business’s finances is invaluable.
All the time, people ask about margins, labor, material, markup, etc., or KPIs.
The vast majority of these metrics live within your bookkeeping and numbers, so making sure your books are set up not only for taxes but also to provide that information is crucial, and unfortunately, Bench does not offer that feature. Also, sitting down with your bookkeeper or accountant to have things explained to you in a way you understand is much more important than just making sure the books are ready.
I could send you a profit and loss or balance sheet to review all day, which will let you know if you made a profit, but without understanding what is being presented to you, you cannot fix or act on problems in your company beforehand. An accountant specializing in the trades and working with contractors can share expertise and concerns to help you correct issues you may not even be aware of before they become financially draining, not just assist you in making sure you are tax ready!
A one-stop shop is always nice Bench.co
does provide that benefit to you, allowing you to get both bookkeeping and tax preparation services through them, but that is where it stops. For example, if you need payroll, they integrate with Gusto, but you still need to run and manage the payroll, not having the benefit of someone else doing it. If you need accounts payable services, those do not exist, nor do business planning services.
Bench dials in and focuses on two things that allow it to work well in those areas. However, many open areas still exist, especially considering how vital budgeting and business planning services or accounts payable services can be for a business and how tightly related to the accounting those are.
Ultimately you will need to ask yourself how advanced do you want your accounting. Is it just someone to help you make sure you are ready for taxes, or are you looking for someone to help you in payroll audits, sales tax filings, budgeting, business growth, and more? Are you looking for a service, or are you looking for a partner that will help you grow your business?
Tax filing is a dime a dozen
It’s something you could theoretically do yourself with software and have no issues there. Many people, though, prefer the peace of mind of a trained professional doing their taxes which Bench provides to clients. They will even help answer tax questions throughout the year at a low and affordable price. But unfortunately, they are only there to answer questions and guide, not help with tax planning. While this is great for a smaller business, you need to make sure you are tax planning as your business grows.
This allows you to ensure you make wise financial decisions throughout the year and have methods set up to save as much money as possible when it comes time to file your return. Of course, no one likes paying taxes, but there is no way to avoid it. However, an intelligent tax plan and an experienced accountant can advise you of ways to defer taxation, reduce your tax burden, and ensure you can hold onto more of your hard-earned money.
As you can see, Bench.co is a great option which we highly recommend to new businesses or smaller businesses. Still, there are a lot of downsides to any company that is genuinely looking for growth and gains in their business. The extra eyes, personalized services, and advanced knowledge of working directly with an accountant, especially one specializing in the trades and the Home Services industry, takes Bench’s benefits and significantly enhances them. And the best part is for the average client, the increase in cost is only about $100-$400 a month depending on the size of their business.
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