I'm not an idiot, but I play one on TV...as long as by TV we mean business.
Generally speaking, I've got bookkeeping software figured out. No, I'm not an expert at everything out there, but you can throw me in front of any bookkeeping app and I'll figure out how to get my job done.
There are a few types of software out there, both for business owners in general and specific to bookkeepers, that I haven't been able to wrap my head around. I'm not sure how they would fit into my business, whether or not they're worth the expense, and which one of them is the best fit.
I'd like to talk about 3 of them today. I hope this inspires some good conversation. Maybe some of you will be comforted in the knowledge that you aren't alone in this confusion, while others will be able to shed some light on what I'm getting wrong.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Software
What I know: CRM software helps you manage the people you interact with through your business. That can range from potential prospects to long term clients. It helps you manage sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support.
I know that sales people use this quite a lot to manage "leads". I know it's also helpful to keep track of your client's relationships. When was the last time you spoke? What issues have they had with your products in the past? That kind of thing.
What I don't know: Is it worth spending the time to set up the software and maintain the system if you're a one-person shop? How much time and money will it save me? That answer might help ask; how much money should I spend on CRM software? It seems to range from free to $50/month for the small biz tier...and I'm sure there are pricier options too. I've tested out a few. I spent a couple days getting them setup, and then never remembered to go back and maintain the system. It's very possible that's a sign that it's not for me, but maybe I just didn't know how to approach it properly.
Document Management Software
What I Know: I know plenty about Dropbox, and how important document management is for a bookkeeping practice. There are quite a few services out there tailored to bookkeepers and accountants that help manage your client's documents in a secure way.
What I Don't Know: Dropbox has been my goto because it's what most of my clients are already using. I've always had the approach of bringing my services to them. One complaint I hear from owners is frustratration when they're forced to start working with their accountant's software. But there are benefits to document management that's built for this purpose. It might be more robust and more secure. I just don't have a clue which of the dozens of options out there to try out.
Client Management Software
What I Know: Think of Client Management (or sometimes Practice Management) software as CRM software plus time tracking and billing plus document management plus more. It's a lot of software and can be quite pricey. It handles your entire bookkeeping or accounting practice. The only thing it doesn't include is the actual bookkeeping software.
What I Don't Know: Similar to CRM software, I'm not sure if this is overkill for a solo operation. I'm also not sure about having one app handle all of these tasks. On one hand I like having everything in one place. On the other hand, I would wonder if I could piece together a stronger set of features for the same or less money.
So, here's 3 things I don't know much about...pulled from a much longer list. What about you? Running a business is hard, and you're not expected to be an expert at everything (or anything really) right away. What things are you struggling with right now?
Is it choosing the right bookkeeping software? Maybe it's how to find clients. Whatever it is, let me know in the comments or by replying to this email. I might not have all the answers but I love any chance I can get to talk to people about small business.