5 Best Virtual and Outsourced Accounting Services for Small Businesses in 2021

Don't waste time agonizing over your books—choose outsourced or virtual accounting services and get back to running your business.
Best overall
Book Keeper
Bookkeeper.com
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Cash-basis and accrual-basis accounting
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Optional payroll and tax prep services
Most affordable
Merritt Bookkeeping
Merritt Bookkeeping
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Low monthly rate
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Easy account reconciliation
Best for established
inDinero
inDinero
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Full-service tax filing
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Outsourced CFO services
Best bookkeeping only
Bench
Bench
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Comprehensive, easy-to-understand reports
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Direct syncing with your CPA or tax professional
Best for payroll & HR
Book Keeper 360
Bookkeeper360
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Payroll and HR add-ons
  • Icon Pros  Dark
    Business coaching and fractional CFO services

If accounting software isn’t working for you but you don’t want to hire a full-time accountant, virtual or outsourced bookkeeping is a good middle-of-the road solution. Below, we review our 10 favorite virtual and outsourced accounting services for small-business owners like you.

Best virtual and outsourced accounting for small businesses

The best virtual and outsourced accounting services for small businesses

Brand
Starting cost
Services
Accounting software
Cash-basis or accrual-basis accounting
Learn more
Bookkeper.com$285.00/mo.Bookkeeping, payroll, tax prepQuickBooks Online and QuickBooks DesktopBoth
Merritt Bookkeeping$190.00/mo.Monthly bookkeeping reports, bank and credit card account reconciliationQuickBooks OnlineCash-basis only
inDinero$300.00/mo.Federal and state tax filing, employee reimbursement requests, on-demand outsourced CFOsProprietary in-house software or QuickBooks OnlineBoth
Bench$159.00/mo.Real-time cash flow reporting, dedicated bookkeeper, optional tax filingProprietary in-house softwareCash-basis only
Bookkeeper360$399.00/mo.Dedicated accountant, HR and payroll add-ons, fractional CFO servicesXero or QuickBooksBoth

Data effective 1/12/21. At publishing time, pricing and features are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

Best overall: Bookkeeper.com

Book Keeper

If you need an all-in-one affordable bookkeeping service with optional full-service payroll and tax prep assistance, Bookkeeper.com can help.

Don’t let the name fool you—Bookkeeper.com offers bookkeeping, accounting, payroll, and tax prep services. All of Bookkeeper.com’s plans includes these features:

  • Monthly reconciliation
  • Basic financial document preparation, including income statements, profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements
  • Expense management
  • Accounting software setup assistance

Bookkeeper.com manages your accounts using QuickBooks Online (or QuickBooks Desktop, if you prefer Intuit’s desktop software to cloud-based services). Since QuickBooks is among the most popular accounting software providers for small businesses, a lot of small-business owners are already familiar with the software. Even if you aren’t, though, its user-friendly interface makes collaborating with your virtual bookkeeping team easy and efficient.

If you use an accrual-basis accounting system rather than a cash-basis system, Bookkeeper.com also has your back. Only a handful of virtual bookkeeping and accounting services work with both accrual-based and cash-based accounting, and Bookkeeper.com is one of them.

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Definitions: Cash-basis accounting and accrual-basis accounting

If you use the cash-basis accounting system, you update your books right when you receive cash or make a payment. If you use the accrual-basis accounting system, you update your books whenever a transaction is scheduled, not necessarily paid out in cash. Not sure which one is right for you? Check out our explanation of accrual-basis vs. cash-basis accounting.

Bookkeeper.com pricing and plans

Bookkeeper.com offers two main pricing plans: Small Business and Small Business Plus. The primary difference between the two is in the number of transactions Bookkeeper.com’s team will reconcile for you—Small Business includes up to 125 transactions per month while Small Business Plus goes up to 250 transactions per month. And as you can imagine, the Plus plan costs quite a bit more, starting at $495 a month.

Want help beyond managing basic financials? If you choose Bookkeeper.com’s payroll processing services, they’ll tackle every payroll aspect for you, including direct deposit or check payments, year-end and quarterly tax forms, and W-2 and 1099 forms. And if you add on tax preparation services from Bookkeeper.com, the team can prepare and file your small-business taxes. (If you want to add payroll and tax preparation, you’ll have to contact Bookkeeper.com directly for a quote.)

Most affordable: Merritt Bookkeeping

Merritt Bookkeeping

While Merritt Bookkeeping doesn’t offer the full spectrum of accounting services, it’s one of the most affordable virtual bookkeeping providers out there. If you don’t have many employees and are comfortable filing your own taxes, it’s a good pick.

If you want to outsource your bookkeeping services but aren’t ready to pay for an expensive, fully featured accounting plan, Merritt Bookkeeping is an excellent place to start. With plans starting at $190 per month, you can automate some of the most time-consuming bookkeeping tasks and focus more on running your business.

Once you’re signed up, you’ll log into Merritt’s simple, easy-to-use interface. Connect your accounts, and Merritt will keep your books updated monthly and your transactions categorized. The dashboard shows your balance sheet, monthly and yearly profit and loss statements, and income and expense graphs. Like Bookkeeper.com, Merritt Bookkeeping uses QuickBooks Online, which makes it super-accessible to most business owners.

Info
Heads-up: Charities
Own a nonprofit or charity? Get in touch with Merritt Bookkeeping—they advertise free bookkeeping for charities.

Unfortunately, Merritt Bookkeeping doesn’t list much additional information about its services online. You have to contact the company directly to learn more, which is a little frustrating. On the other hand, reaching out to the company means you can ask specific questions about how Merritt can help your unique business. Just don’t feel pressured into signing up just because you’ve given a customer service rep your info. It’s okay to shop around.

Merritt Bookkeeping plans and pricing

Merritt Bookkeeping offers a flat monthly rate of $190, which beats out most of the competition. Unfortunately, Merritt doesn’t offer many of the services that other providers we compared do, like payroll management, invoicing, or tax filing, but it provides enough outsourced accounting services to free up valuable time.

Best for established startups: inDinero

inDinero

With its virtual accounting and tax software—plus outsourced CFO services—inDinero doesn’t come cheap. But its thorough service is perfect for established startups that need secure, comprehensive accounting assistance.

Defining itself as a “software + service” solution for small-business bookkeeping and accounting, inDinero offers a unique customer experience and data-driven mission. For those reasons alone, it’s a great option for established startups with complex accounting needs.

The built-for-founders software helps you with tedious tasks like managing accounts, invoicing, and employee reimbursements. It also lets you file federal and state taxes, pay bills, and generate financial statements. The company even has outsourced, on-demand CFOs. If you need someone who can completely dedicate themselves to your finances and work alongside you to grow your business, inDinero’s CFO service is a good (though pricey) solution.

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What is a fractional CFO?

A chief financial officer, or CFO, oversees a company’s finances. While many companies have a CFO on their management team, smaller companies (with small management teams) can benefit from an outsourced, part-time, or contract-based CFOs. These types of CFOs are called fractional CFOs, and they usually offer financial advice on specific company projects.

inDinero plans and pricing

Customers can choose from three inDinero plans. The Essential plan starts at $300 a month and includes cash-basis accounting only. The Growth plan starts at $900 a month for accrual-basis accounting. And the Executive plan, which is built for larger companies that need CFO services, has custom pricing. You’ll need to get in touch with an inDinero rep for a price estimate: just anticipate it being higher than $900 a month.

Best for bookkeeping only: Bench

Bench

Do you already have a part-time bookkeeper, CPA, or tax professional? Bench handles all bookkeeping duties and syncs up with your in-house staff during tax time to make running your business smoother, easier, and more affordable.

When you sign up with Bench, a dedicated bookkeeper talks you through setting up Bench’s in-house software, analyzes your books, and starts sending you monthly financial reports. If you’d like, your dedicated Bench professional can connect directly with your current part-time tax professional or accountant. The two of them can hash out bookkeeping details without bogging you down in tedious tasks. Bench will also prepare your tax paperwork for you, simply leaving the filing up to you, your CPA, or your tax professional.

If you don’t have your own tax professional, Bench offers its own tax prep services, BenchTax. Like Bench’s bookkeeping services, BenchTax pairs you with a dedicated tax expert who prepares your end-of-year tax forms, deducts the right amount from your account, and files taxes on your behalf.

Bench plans and pricing

Instead of offering additional services at higher price points, Bench breaks its plans down by how high your business’s monthly expenses are:

  • Starter ($159/month): Monthly expenses $3K or under
  • Micro ($199/month): Monthly expenses between $3K and $20K
  • Boutique ($249/month): Monthly expenses between $20K and $50K
  • Venture ($299/month): Monthly expenses between $50K and $100K
  • Corporate ($419/month): Monthly expenses between $100K and $1M

The pricing above is for annual plans: if you want to pay month by month, you’ll end up spending $30 to $80 more each month, depending on the plan. Plus, Bench charges you $100 extra per month if you have "complex bookkeeping needs"—which is pretty vague, so you'll have to check in with Bench to see if your business counts.

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Bench's Catch Up Bookkeeping plan

Need help getting past accounts in order? If you choose Bench's Catch Up Bookkeeping services, a Bench bookkeeper will work through past months of disorganized bookkeeping to get your accounts up to speed. Catch Up Bookkeeping from Bench costs the same as its traditional plans, but if you need more than two years of historical bookkeeping, you'll need to sign up for BenchRetro and create a customized pricing plan instead.

Find Your Money—and Keep More of It

With plans starting at $15 a month, FreshBooks is well-suited for freelancers, solopreneurs, and small-business owners alike.

  • Track time and expenses
  • Create custom invoices
  • Accept online payments

Best payroll and HR: Bookkeeper360

Book Keeper 360

Want one provider for your accounting, bookkeeping, payroll, and HR needs? Bookkeeper360 uses dedicated accountants while also providing full-service payroll solutions, HR add-ons like medical insurance, and fractional CFO services.

Bookkeeper360 functions a lot like Bench—but instead of focusing just on bookkeeping, it offers more general accounting services.

With Bookkeeper360, you’ll get a dedicated virtual bookkeeper who sends detailed reports on a monthly basis. Bookkeeper360 works primarily with Xero (though it recently added a QuickBooks option)—so if you’re a Xero fan, Bookkeeper360 is the way to go.

This virtual accounting company offers a variety of add-ons and perks, especially in the HR and payroll department. It works with ADP and Gusto—two of our favorite payroll service providers—to make direct deposits, help with time tracking and PTO, file payroll taxes for you, and find medical benefits and workers compensation insurance for your small business.

Bookkeeper360 plans and pricing

Bookkeeper360 offers two plans that differ based on how often you need its services: a monthly plan, which starts at $399 per month if you pay annually, and a weekly plan, which starts at $549 per month (not per week!). Along with more frequent bookkeeping updates, the weekly plan gets you a dedicated accounting team rather than one dedicated accountant. It also has more reporting, more frequent updates, and top-notch customer support.

Heads up: Bookkeeper360 charges a lot more for accrual-based accounting than it does for cash-based accounting. The prices listed above are for the cash method. Pricing for the accrual method is $549 for the weekly plan and $749 for the monthly plan.

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Heads-up: More Bookkeeper360 perks

Want more than just accounting? Bookkeeper360 has a few more add-on options:

  • Fractional CFO services, business coaching, and capital raising services
  • Payroll and HR, including full-service tax filing and medical benefits
  • Business tax services
  • Back-office connectivity, meaning Bookkeeper360 connects all your business data and documents to streamline record keeping

 

If you’re interested in any of these solutions, you’ll want to contact Bookkeeper360 for a quote: pricing isn’t listed online.

More small-business accounting solutions

There are hundreds of virtual bookkeeping providers to choose from. We picked our favorites above, but here are five other popular providers of online accounting services worth looking at.

Best for startups: Pilot

Pilot

Want help getting your business off the ground? Pilot is geared toward small businesses and startups that want expert financial advice right out of the gate.

Pilot’s bookkeeping is geared specifically for new startups. Like Bench, Pilot structures its pricing around how much you pay in expenses each month, so if you’ve just gotten off the ground and aren’t spending (or making) too much money yet, Pilot’s dedicated accountants can help you figure out how to get—and stay—on track. Unfortunately, you’ll pay a lot for the help: plans start at $599 per month for businesses with $15,000 worth of monthly expenses.

Best for cash-basis only: KPMG Spark

KPMG Spark

If you need bookkeeping help on the go, try KPMG Spark—its solid mobile app quickly connects you to your dedicated bookkeeper.

KPMG Spark (formerly known as Bookly) has its own software and mobile app, which means you can connect with your dedicated bookkeeper on the go. Signing up is easy: just create an account, enter your bank and invoicing info, and you’re good to go.

KPMG Spark used to advertise a cash-basis and accrual-basis plan with the accrual-basis plan costing hundreds more a month. Now, the company's pricing is broken down by how many accounts you need to keep in order. For one to three accounts, pricing starts at $195 a month.

Best reporting: Ignite Spot Accounting

IgniteSpot

Ignite Spot Accounting lets you dive right into bookkeeping by axing setup fees and creating handy financial documents.

Ignite Spot Accounting delivers heftier reports than many other providers we checked out for this piece. Along with the typical financial statements (like profit and loss reports and balance sheets), you’ll get a KPI (key performance indicator) report and profitability analysis, among others. The company doesn’t charge a setup fee unless your books aren’t current. If they aren’t up to date, you’ll pay a fee to get everything in order.

Ignite Spot is definitely on the pricier end of virtual accounting. Its bookkeeping services start at $575 a month, and its virtual CFO services start at $500 a month.

Best for high earners: AccountingDepartment.com

With an in-house team of trained professionals and a slew of financial reports, AccountingDepartment.com is dedicated to taking meticulous care of your books.

Are you making $1M or more per year? AccountingDepartment.com is targeted at businesses like yours. Along with offering the typical outsourced bookkeeping services, AccountingDepartment.com provides outsourced controller services, which means their CPAs manage bookkeeping while also budgeting, forecasting, doing job costing, managing cash flow, tracking inventory, and performing other financial management tasks on your behalf. Contact the company directly for a quote.

Best project-based pricing: Flatworld Solutions

Flatworld

If you’d rather pay for bookkeeping by the project or hour, Flatworld Solutions is your affordable answer.

Looking for something even more affordable than Merritt Bookkeeping? Flatworld Solutions might be your, well, solution. This India-based operation offers hourly pricing options and by-the-project billing. The company has been around since 2002 and has clients all around the world. If you aren’t interested in offshore customer service, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere. But if paying between $8 and $15 an hour for quick accounting help sounds ideal, Flatworld Solutions is a good bet.

Virtual accounting FAQ

What is virtual accounting?

Virtual accounting firms provide the same services as in-house accountants: they can balance your books, file your taxes, and advise you on your business’s financial health. But instead of working out of your office, virtual accountants work from afar. Usually, virtual accounting and bookkeeping companies use cloud-based accounting software to ensure you have constant access to your own financial records.

Is there a difference between virtual and outsourced accounting or bookkeeping?

Virtual, outsourced, and online are often used interchangeably when referring to bookkeeping and accounting. However, virtual bookkeeping and accounting can sometimes refer to accountants or CPAs who work out of their homes and contract out their services individually. In contrast, outsourced bookkeeping and accounting nearly always refers to accountants with an accounting firm who handle your books from their own office.

How much does outsourced accounting cost?

Outsourced, virtual bookkeeping can cost as little as $150 per month and as much as $900 (or more) per month. Some companies charge by the number of accounts you need them to manage, while other companies charge based on your company’s monthly expenses. Typically, the lower your expenses, the less you’ll be charged.

What are the pros and cons of virtual accounting?

Working with a virtual accounting firm is often cheaper than hiring an in-house, full-time accountant. You won’t pay for the accountant’s work space, benefits, or salary—you’ll simply pay for their virtual services, which can cost a monthly fee of $150 on up. In contrast, CPAs usually make around $60,000 a year.1 Virtual accounting also saves time: when you don’t have to keep the books yourself, you can spend more time improving your business’s sales and services to boost your bottom line.

However, using a virtual team instead of an on-site team can make collaboration harder, especially if you’re not used to working with off-site groups. With outsourced services, you also have less direct control and oversight over your own financial information. And some virtual accounting services require you to use their proprietary accounting software instead of more popular (and affordable) software like QuickBooks, which can up the cost.

Is virtual bookkeeping legit?

Yes, virtual and outsourced bookkeeping is just as legitimate as in-house bookkeeping and accounting. However, as with any company you trust with your financial data, you should always verify a bookkeeping firm’s credentials before committing to a monthly plan.

What should you look for in an accounting or bookkeeping provider?

Whether you’re looking to hire a local accounting firm or outsource your bookkeeping to a virtual team, a few key features can help you determine which company is best for your business:

  • Price. Many outsourced accounting providers list pricing online, but even if they don’t, that doesn’t mean you’ll get a bad deal—it could just mean the outsourced company wants more information about your business to give you a more accurate quote. Plus, fixed pricing could mean you end up paying more for features you don’t want or need, like software or setup fees.
  • Credentials. Not all virtual bookkeepers are CPAs. But they should be highly trained, and you should be able to easily learn about their certifications and specializations either online or by contacting the company directly.
  • Location. If you don’t want to send financial data overseas, choose an accounting service that’s based in your country. Also, find out how quickly you can reach someone if you need support—sometimes, being in the right time zone is the biggest perk of local service.

The takeaway

Outsourced bookkeeping and accounting services are a happy medium between do-it-yourself software and pricey in-house bookkeeping. If that description fits what you’re looking for, one of the best virtual bookkeeping providers above can save you time, money, and stress.

Would you rather tackle accounting yourself instead of outsourcing it to a third party? Check out our list of the year’s best accounting software for small businesses to get started.

Sources
1. Indeed, “How Much Do CPAs Make? CPA Salaries and and Factors that Affect a CPA’s Income,” August 6, 2020. Accessed January 12, 2021.

Disclaimer

At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Kylie McQuarrie
Written by
Kylie McQuarrie
Kylie spent two of the last four years writing for and with small-business owners—from dentists in Australia to plumbers in the Midwest. She spent the other two writing in depth about internet and security. She’s passionate about reading, hiking, and dedicating every spare second to writing for fun (at lunch, between meetings, on the train, before breakfast . . . ). Her content helps small-business owners tackle the logistics of running a business so they can focus more on their passions too.
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