How to Start a Bookkeeping Business and Get What You Want
The best way to get started is to come up with clear answers to these two questions:
1. WHY do you want to work as a freelance bookkeeper?
2. WHAT does a freelance bookkeeping business mean for you?
There are no right or wrong answers here, but without these answers before you begin your business, you could end up frustrated and in a situation that you don’t want.
The reasons for starting a bookkeeping service business vary, but often it is sparked by a short-term situation. It might be that a job or other reliable income source was suddenly lost, or new household expenses arrived (such as a new family member). Regardless of the circumstances, oftentimes the primary motivator is a need for more income quickly.
If that’s the case for you, a word of caution is in order. There is a difference between creating a job for yourself so you can work from home, and starting a business – it’s a BIG difference. Starting a new business with your eyes open will determine whether you get the results you want, or struggle, sometimes for years.
This is not intended to discourage you from the idea of starting a freelance bookkeeping business. Far from it! It’s more about setting yourself up for getting exactly what you want right from the start.
When you think about WHY you want to become a freelance bookkeeper, is it because you simply want to work from home with a flexible schedule, possibly to be more available for your family? Or have you always wanted your own business and like the idea of providing valuable services to a variety of clients? Are thinking about building a team of bookkeepers? Maybe you’d even like to pass the business on to your children, or selling it when you’ve had enough of it.
Your first step is to take some quiet time, 30 minutes or so. Envision in your mind’s eye, vividly with as much detail as you can muster, what you see your life being like running a freelance bookkeeping business of your own. See yourself actually doing it. What would your daily routine be like? Would you work from home? Would you have a virtual staff? How would it fit into the rest of your life?
Do this type of daydreaming first, before you get down to the “practical” steps of wondering what services you’ll provide or which software programs you should use. Instead, compare that vision, that picture and feeling of what your business will be like, to where you are today. No matter how dramatic the difference between your vision and your life now, it’s just a matter of moving one step at a time from where you are to living your vision. Really.
Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be – Quickly!
Now that you know clearly what your freelance bookkeeping business will look like, it’s time to take practical action to bring it into your life. How? With a basic plan, of course!
Laying the foundation and plan for your business is part research and part learning as you go along. So you will need a measure of flexibility. But always start with the vision of what your business will look like when you have “arrived” at how you want it to be.
Then it’s a matter of finding what will cause the results you are looking for. That is, what expertise do you have now, and what do you still need? Clients will pay you for the value you provide them. So, what value do you have to offer, or what could you develop? Do you have any specialized knowledge, such as is needed in a specific industry? An example might be if you have experience with bookkeeping for a non-profit organization.
You’ll also want to consider a basic budget and how much you will need to charge in order to meet your financial goals. How many hours a week do you want to work? Don’t forget to consider the “overhead” expenses involved, such as insurance, taxes and vacation time.
Finally, you’ll want to have a plan for how you will market your services and attract clients. Just being “ready” to offer bookkeeping services will not automatically attract clients. You need to get the word out to those who are looking for the specific services you have to offer. That’s what a marketing plan will do for you.
We’ve briefly touched on some of the setup work needed before you start looking for your first bookkeeping client as a freelancer. Without proper planning, while you may bring in some income reasonably fast, you won’t end up with the business of your dreams unless you are clear on what you want and how you plan to move in that direction first.
But putting it all together doesn’t have to take a long time or be difficult. In fact, if you’re ready to start your freelance bookkeeping business using the power of the Internet AND you want to know how to snag your first paying bookkeeping client quickly, check out my no-fluff audio book, Virtual Bookkeeping Secrets, and use the included business planning worksheets.
If you’re already running your bookkeeping service business, what do you wish someone had told you before you got started?