Small business accounting is dominated by over-the-counter DIY (Do It Yourself) solutions catered to business owners. This environment creates significant pain for both accountants and their clients. If you were to ask your clients if they love doing accounting, how many would say yes? Hardly any.

It stands to reason that small business owners would rather spend their time focused on their businesses, and not accounting work. In fact, according to a survey by SCORE, 40 percent of small business owners said dealing with bookkeeping and taxes are the single worst parts of owning a company. Compounding the problem is that the more clients are involved in bookkeeping (without any accounting knowledge), the more mistakes accountants are left cleaning up. Despite these challenges, DIY software was the best and most widely-used option before the cloud, but now things are different. Today, cloud-based professional accounting systems give accountants the control they need through two important capabilities they haven’t had before.

Making the most of the cloud

First, professional cloud-based solutions enable accountants’ staff to do all of the work that their clients or clients’ staff performs, only faster, easier and more accurately, without leaving the office. Second, these solutions allow accountants and their clients to collaborate, while accountants maintain full control over the data. Because of the cloud, accountants can customize their services for each individual client, based on their needs and preferences. For those who prefer not to do anything, accountants can completely eliminate the need for clients to perform any accounting work. For those clients who prefer some involvement, accountants can set up the system to give their clients access to specific functions they can perform comfortably without making errors.

For example, clients who crave some involvement may only want to use accounting programs to write checks and enter deposits. Accountants can tailor the program to let them perform those functions quickly. Clients who want another level of involvement may want the ability to handle account receivables and account payables. Accountants can personalize the solution to meet the needs of both the hands-off and engaged client.

Either way a client decides to go on their level of involvement, the accountant’s time is freed up to focus on providing value, such as identifying growth opportunities or flagging discrepancies or threats to the client’s business.

Strengthen the client relationship beyond bookkeeping and taxes

Accountants can continue to demonstrate their value to their clients by offering complete accounting and payroll services. By making the most of collaborative cloud-based solutions, accountants can analyze the whole picture of a client’s finances to offer real-time strategic advice, and provide significantly deeper value beyond preparing simple financials and doing taxes.

The more high-value services that an accountant can offer their client, the stronger their client relationships will be, which can boost retention and create a strong referral network for the accounting firm amongst existing clients.

DIY accounting systems may have been the norm for the past several years, but cloud-based professional accounting systems have shifted the balance of power back to accountants and created an opportunity for small businesses to get back to doing what they love most, running their businesses, and not dealing with the headaches of bookkeeping, taxes and payroll. Cloud solutions benefit both accountants and their clients, and empowers accountants to offer more strategic value to their clients’ businesses.