What Do You Want And What’s Holding You Back?

When you have the skill of a professional bookkeeper and you are ready to take the leap into freelance work, there may be many reasons that motivate you. What are your reasons?

In a recent survey of 1,325 freelance bookkeepers, the top two motivators for choosing to go it on their own were:

1.  Independence

2.  Income

That's a powerful combination! These are two factors that may be quite limited when you choose to work for someone else. Your time is not your own, and you can only make so much. But they won't tie you down, if you're serious about working freelance.

However, we each do have different tolerance levels as to how much security we need, versus how much control over our own professional destiny we can handle successfully. So do get clear on what you want most out of your business.

But if you've already taken the leap into entrepreneurship with your bookkeeping services, or you are seriously considering doing so, you know that there is also another not-so-sunny side to the story.

In that same survey of professional bookkeepers who have already been in business for several years, the participants were asked what their biggest problems were. (I prefer to call them “challenges,” but you get the idea.) Can you guess what they are?

1. Getting new clients

2. Raising rates

These can be formidable challenges, especially in the beginning.

Part of the reason many new freelancers struggle with getting clients is because they believe that there are only one or two ways to find new clients. Of course, that is simply not so. It really does not take much effort to get more clients than you can possibly handle. But to get you started, re-read the previous post on this blog for just five ways to get your marketing efforts rolling. There are, in fact, many more ways that you will learn about as we travel along together.

Raising rates, too, can be a sticky matter. But the toughest part of it, surprisingly enough, usually has little to do with your clients. I'll expand on this issue in a future post as well. For now, suffice it to say that raising rates is much easier and rewarding than most of us imagine. That is, if we are willing to take a chance. But making the decision to go independent was a risk you have already decided to at least consider. And I'll tell you this from experience, raising your rates is actually much less painful and far more gratifying than it seems, and well worth the effort.

In the weeks and months to come, I plan to break down into bite-size pieces ALL of the components of starting and running a freelance bookkeeping business to speed up your success, based on my own experience and what I'm still learning after 17 years (and counting).

But right now, I need your help! To give you the highest quality information in the most effective way possible, I need to hear from you.

The problem with years of experience is that it is easy for me to forget some of what it feels like when you are starting from zero. So please let me know your questions and concerns about starting and running your own bookkeeping service. This will help me make sure I address ALL of your questions and concerns. Please use the comments in this blog to let me know how I can give you what you need most.

I am extremely excited about the journey we will be traveling together. That's because I find it so satisfying to share what tips and tools I've picked up and help others to succeed with them too. In turn, we all learn from one another and a real synergy emerges. Be a part of it! Think about the biggest reasons you want to be a freelance bookkeeper, and the challenges you are facing (or imagine you will) along the way. Then let's all build the businesses that will give us each what we want most for ourselves, our families, and our clients.

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Marketing: Where To Begin?

If you are a professional bookkeeper, or want to be, and you want to start your own freelance bookkeeping service, one of your biggest hesitations probably surrounds the question of how you will find your first few clients. Am I right?

You've probably heard that most bookkeepers get their business from client referrals. But how do you get referrals when you don't have any clients yet? Good question. And I'm pleased to tell you, there are many good answers.

The first is, start where you are. Often your first client or two will come from someone you already know. So tell everyone you know that you are doing some freelance bookkeeping work. This includes family, friends, business people you deal with regularly, and even your workmates and boss, if you are not currently working as a bookkeeper in your day job (or s/he doesn't mind if you moonlight). Someone you know will likely know someone else who is looking for a bookkeeper.

The next best way to get things going is to make direct contact with potential clients and those who can refer business your way. That doesn't have to be as stressful as it sounds though, and quite honestly, since there is such a shortage of bookkeepers, you won't have to do it for long.  There are various ways of doing this. And you just might find that you actually like doing some of them!

Here are just five (of many) ways to easily find people who need your services:

1.  Contact all the small businesses within a mile or two of your home. Do that either by mail, telephone or in person.

2.  Join local business organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce or Rotary Club and attend their networking events. Get to know the other business people in your area and be sure they know about your services. You will especially want to build relationships with local CPAs, since they can be an excellent source of referral business.

3.  Join online business networking groups, especially those that are based in your local area, or have local chapters. One that immediately comes to mind is at www.meetup.com

4.  Contact the local sales reps of the big payroll service companies, such as ADP and Paychex, as well as smaller, local payroll companies. Tell them you would be glad to refer your clients who need payroll to them if they will refer their clients who need bookkeeping to you.

5.  Visit local office supply stores and business loan departments of local banks and let them know about your services. Be sure you provide them with a supply of your business cards. They often are asked to make referrals by local small business owners.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. But we are only scratching the surface. Trust me. There are far more clients who need your services than you can even imagine. Once the word is out about your services, you will have more work than you can handle in a short period of time.

Until then, get the ball rolling by letting the world know that you are a freelance bookkeeper and you're presently accepting new clients.

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Are You Ready?

Are you a bookkeeping professional (or want to be) who is ready to break free?

Are you ready to work when YOU want to work, on your own schedule?

Are you ready to finally start making more money than you could ever hope to make as someone else's employee?

Then isn't it time to start your own freelance bookkeeping service, OR take your existing bookkeeping business to the next level?

While I can't do that for you, I can offer you a valuable FREE resource to help you along the way.

My new, online newsletter and web log (blog), The Freelance Bookkeeper, is designed to be a no-fluff, cut-to-the-chase source of real life, hands-on information for individuals who are serious about building a freelance bookkeeping practice. 

You see, I've noticed how scarce truly helpful resources to would-be and even seasoned freelance bookkeepers are. In my travels I've only found a few very general books and websites out there, and I had to scour the Internet to find them! At best, what I found was over-priced, generic information that could have been used for most any service business, and much of the informatioin was sadly outdated to boot!

Yet the work bookkeepers do, and all the related services that small businesses absolutely need, are vital to our economy! I think it's pathetic that there is not more real, practical support for our industry easily available. So that's why I have created this website. 

In my own experience running a freelance bookkeeping business, I've come to believe that:

  1. There is a serious shortage of freelance bookkeepers. Capable bookkeepers and related consultants are desperately needed by the vast majority of small and home-based businesses in operation today. This segment is grossly under-served, and it is a HUGE market that would benefit greatly from the services we provide.
  2. The freelance bookkeeping field is bursting with opportunities. There are now incredible financial and flexible lifestyle opportunities for the proactive professional, in part due to the new and inexpensive technologies now available to virtually everyone. There are also a slew of specialties that are in high demand and which garner generous fees.

My mission here is to help you get onto the fast track so you can prosper in your own freelance bookkeeping business AND serve the small business community that needs your unique mix of talents, from basic monthly bookkeeping services to highly specialized consulting expertise. Together we can actually make a positive impact on the financial prosperity of everyone involved!

You see, I've been running my own freelance business for over 17 years now. During that time, I've learned a few things about the different ways to find appreciative, prompt-paying clients. I've learned about the different types of specialties one can develop with an independent bookkeeping service, as well as the leaps new technology has taken that has cracked this field wide open.

I want to get you on the road to reaching your goals more quickly. And unlike many in our field, I am not afraid to share openly what works, and help you avoid wasting your time and effort on what doesn't. 

I truly believe that by helping one another, we will all prosper far more than we would by bumping around alone using the outdated trial-and-error methods that are so common….and counter-productive. The plain truth is, there just aren't enough independent bookkeepers, and there is more than enough business to go around! We are stronger and will do more good by sharing our successes and working together.

Of course, I don't claim to know it all. I'm still learning too! So while I'm happy to share with you what I've learned so far, the good, the bad, and the ugly, as well as what I'm learning right now in my own business adventures, I'd like to hear from you too.

This has been designed to be an interactive blog, so you can comment on any of the information I provide. Join in, comment and participate. Go ahead and share any tips or helpful information you've discovered too. Remember, creating a dialogue among like-minded people creates synergy. And that's the stuff great strategic alliances are made of!

So if you're up for this challenge of building a truly prosperous freelance bookkeeping business from the ground up, stay tuned. I will be posting information-packed articles, nuts-and-bolts tips specific to the bookkeeping industry, must-have resources, and free live training sessions for everyone who joins The Freelance Bookkeeper notification list.

If you haven't done so already, be sure to enter your contact information below and don't miss out on even one bit of business boosting tips and cutting edge information I will be supplying on a regular basis to the subscribers of this newsletter. Don't get left behind!

I look forward to hearing about your success!

Gabrielle Fontaine, PB    

     ~Gabrielle

    

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