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Software for by bookkeeping business.

  • Student
  • 20 posts
  • # 113713

Hello Everyone,


I am just about to open my bookkeeping practice and whilst I know how to do the work, I find that I don't know what to expect from clients.

Say I am appoached by a small business wanting bookkeeping services but they do not use an accounting software. Would you always set them up to a software or would you use programmes like excel for their accounts?

If you would set them up with a software, do you pay for a multi user software yourself or suggest they pay? If you have bought one, which one do you recommend?

Also, if you are moving a client onto a software do you find it is a difficult tasks if their accounts aren't in the best order e.g. setting up their opening balances, creditors control etc etc any tips on a good process here?


Any advice much appreciated, it all feels very daunting!



Edited at 01 Sep 2016 06:00 PM GMT

  • 491 posts
  • # 113714

Hi Liam

I must admit - it's a bit of a mixture of everything you've mentioned as far as my business goes.........

Wherever possible, if you think the client is going to be an ongoing monthly or quarterly client, then I would try to encourage the client to pay the monthly cost of an online software commitment. I specialise with QuickBooks, so would suggest QBO (QuickBooks Online)

I only use Excel for the once a year clients that have very few transactional information. If I come accross a once a year client that has more than just a few transactions, then I'd use my desktop version of QuickBooks (for my benefit - I can have up to 99 businessess on my version) I wouldn't charge the client for any of this side of it as they would have no access, so I see it as totally for my benefit - i.e. the printouts outs that it would enable me to do etc.

As I'm registered as a QBO Pro Advisor, with a Partner Dashboard (free to the bookkeeper) it enables me to set them up with either the Essentials version that allows up to 3 users - as well as the bookkeeper and the accountant - or the PLUS version that allows unlimited users anyway. The prices vary - but on the whole, you can make a couple of pounds or so a month on the monthly cost if you wish by setting it up as a 'wholesale' cost, where you pay for the monthly fee and charge your client, versus your client paying direct.

With regards to your last paragraph.........this is why I like QBO so much. Unlike SAGE or similar software, with QBO, you don't have to start with opening balances. You can just enter everything you DO have, then when you're all set up as best you can, you can THEN add in all that you don't have as an opening balance. Something I feel QBO is well worth recognition and praise for :-) 

Hope this helps.


  • Student
  • 20 posts
  • # 113718

Hello Carol,

Thanks very much for taking the time to reply to me, it's much appreciated. The whole process of going it alone feels very different to having the security of an employer..

This has been my thinking, a software subscription is going to be of good benefit to the client and to me in providing the best service for them for a pretty minimal outlay really. I haven't used QB, I have used SAGE line 50 and SAGE One but to be honest, find SAGE One very clumsy and difficult when making any amendments. Before opening my business I will download a trial of QB and have a play around with it so I have an understanding of both before making a decision on which to recommened.

Thanks for the information on excel. You can make a pretty decent excel bookkeeping spreadsheet but glad you confirmed my thoughts that this isnt the answer in terms of an ongoing accounting solution but more a record of a low volume of transcations perhaps at year end etc. 

When you say you would use your desktop version of QBs to process higher volume once-a-year clients, how would this work? Can you just process a clients income/expenses, asset etc to say, print out a profit/loss or balance sheet but not really go indepth in setting up their company on the software.

This really is the question and the thing im struggling with here, given that I haven't had to do it before: If I go into a client, who has a bunch of invoices/receipts, maybe an odd spreadsheet or two or whatever and wants me to take over the bookkeeping on an ongoing basis, I would want to set up an accounting system using a software. Like you say, with SAGE I would need opening balance, creditors/debtors control information, details of any fixed assets etc but this information may not be avalaible to me. If the client had a good record of his creditors/debtors, a good fixed asset schedule etc they probably wouldn't be wanting my services.

Are you saying you can set up QB with some basic information such as a bank balance at given date when you take over, some information on who the client is expecting pay from etc and work from there?

Basically, and this is going a little off topic, what do you do when you take on a new client that you need to transfer to a software system?

This is the part I find daunting,whilst I know I can do the work (and do in my current role, and more if anything), it's the taking over a clients bookkeeping and getting  a system started that seems the hard part.

Thanks again for your reply,



  • 491 posts
  • # 113777

Hi Liam

If you have a local meeting near to you, then its a good idea to go to these, as you'll then get the chance to talk to other bookkeepers in your area - and then you wont feel so 'alone' :-) That's what they're for and what they give us.

With regards to QBs desktop version - yes this is exactly what you can do with it - process income and expenses to produce a P&L without having to go the whole hog of reconciling bank accounts or having opening balances. Of course the balance sheet wouldn't be correct on a set up like this, but often with a once a year client that is a one man band - this isn't always needed so can be ignored if this is the case.

On QBs (desktop and online versions) you can just begin entering information from day 1 - and work out / update opening balances later. Its one of its really useful features that makes it so easy to work with.

You can enter the suppliers and customer balances as per the invoice dates and amounts i.e. if the year end is March - and you begin the bookkeeping in May - you can back date all the invoices, including ones that were dated before 31st March (if they were still unpaid at that date of course) and this will then make up your debtors / creditors balance. At later dates, if you find you've missed a couple, you can add them in. Obviously you have to be aware how this may alter opening TB figures at 1st April - but if no-one has need to 'use' them at this early stage, then its not an issue. QuickBooks is so great for this type of flexibility.

Fixed Assets etc can all be added in later, as and when known. I've added fixed assets information in to a file almost a year later (and backdated them), when we're getting ready to hand over a file to an accountant for year end - and realise the opening balances for that year don't match.

As long as you're mindful of any VAT implications if they're VAT registered (i.e. has VAT already been reported etc) -- which can be a little complex to get your head around - but well worth the effort.

When you say 'If the client had a good record of his debtors/creditors etc they wouldn't be wanting your services........there are many times that this occurs - i.e. change of bookkeeper because of someone leaving, moving, retiring - change of software wanted, relocation of business, someone thats been doing it themselves, but it's getting too much so they want help with it now etc etc. These are the kind of clients that are often a dream to have, so value them when you get them :-)

Good Luck - dive in and get on with it - you'll soon feel more confident with it all. We all struggle at the beginning, but its only experience that gets you through that bit.

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