6 Steps to Starting a 
Bookkeeping Business

Starting a bookkeeping business is possible if you have some bookkeeping experience.

These tips for starting a bookkeeping business will help you gain some perspective on whether or not it is achievable for you; or they will help you decide what you still need to do to get there.

Don't be put off or disheartened if you discover that you are lacking in any of the areas mentioned below.

If starting a bookkeeping business is something you really want to do then press on... make a plan with your list of goals and stick with it!

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Step One : Bookkeeping Experience

Starting a Bookkeeping Business

To run a bookkeeping business you need to receive bookkeeping training and have at least two years of on the job experience. This will give you enough knowledge and practice to offer basic bookkeeping services to small businesses.

This might be a contradiction to the encouragement given to business owners with no experience doing their own books, but the difference is that a business owner will have a passion and deep interest in the financial maintenance of their business.

They will not be satisfied with passing on the job to a service provider who has little clue what they're doing.

With experience comes confidence...

...and the more experience you have, the more confidence you'll gain which will be obvious to a prospective client. Your confidence will make them comfortable to let you handle their accounting, and this will turn to trust when you offer them a consistently accurate and professional service.

Step Two : The Cost of Starting a Bookkeeping Business

The cost will depend on where you are starting business from – your home or an office. If you are starting from home this will immediately cut down costs because there will be no office rent to pay.

If renting an office, a basic list of equipment required could include (but is not limited to):-

  • Desk and chair
  • Filing cabinet or shelf
  • Chair for customers
  • Good computer and printer
  • Telephone
  • Kettle and cups
  • A pot plant, and picture for the wall
  • Bookkeeping Software
  • Folders and stationery

There could be other start up costs such as telephone and electricity connections (unless these are already part of the rental).

Step Three : Resources and Software

Resources can include:-

Books and Guides

  • the latest edition books about bookkeeping and accounting in your country, which are often available from the local library
  • small business advice websites
  • your local business support group

Bookkeeping Software
Good bookkeeping software is a must and it is advisable to get a program for professionals that includes bank reconciling, accounts payable and accounts receivable, inventory control and a good range of reports.

Many software developers sell basic programmes that can do bank reconciliations and a few reports which are good for very small home businesses...

...but for a bookkeeping business I recommend purchasing the advanced program because it will enable flexibility in what you can offer to a client, and will prevent you getting frustrated with the inadequacies of a basic program.

Prospective clients may have already purchased bookkeeping software and will be able to give you the disc to upload the program to your computer.

Spreadsheeting Software
I also recommend you get Microsoft Excel which can be used on PC's or Macs. Most bookkeeping software will allow you to export reports to Excel for manipulation so you get them to look how you want and to present them to your clients in a unique way.

Step Four : How to Find Customers

Here are some ideas to find customers for your bookkeeping service:-

  • Advertise in the newspaper and yellow pages
  • Develop a website
  • Sign-write your vehicle
  • Network at local business events
  • Talk about it to your friends and acquaintances

Word of mouth is one of the most powerful methods of gaining new business!

If you can get just one customer to start with and offer them an amazing service, they will definitely recommend you to their business friends and acquaintances.

Don't expect to have dozens of clients flocking to your door in the beginning. It takes time and hard work to build up a loyal customer base, and it also depends on whether you are in it to expand and become an employer, or if you prefer to stay small and on your own.

Step Five : How Much Should You Charge

You will need to do some research to find out how much other bookkeeping service providers in your region charge.

The usual method is to have a set charge per hour, however, some providers will have a set amount for certain types of work such as $100 per month for bank reconciling and reports, and then charge $1 per sales or purchase invoice prepared, and so on.

Step Six : Advanced Accounting Help

Sometimes your customers may ask you an advanced question that you do not know how to answer.

It is a good idea to develop a relationship with an accountant or someone who knows more than you so that you can find out about the more complicated stuff when it comes up.

In the meantime, you could continue on with more advanced bookkeeping and accounting studies and qualifications and then be the person that helps other beginner bookkeeping providers!

I highly recommend checking out The Freelance Bookkeeper
Gabrielle Fontaine provides excellent resources for bookkeeping startups

These are just some of the basic factors to consider when starting a bookkeeping business. I wish you all the best in your endeavours. If you have any questions and want to know more, contact me.

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Starting a Bookkeeping Business

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