If you’re qualified as a bookkeeper, you may consider starting your own bookkeeping business. Starting a business has many advantages, providing you with more work opportunities, giving you more control over your work, and opening the door to a bigger stream of revenue. But if you’re not sure how to get started, it may seem intimidatingly complex.
Here’s the good news: starting a bookkeeping business is much easier than you think. You can even get started today!
Write a Business Plan
Before you do anything else, you should take the time to write a business plan. This doesn’t need to be very formal, nor does it have to be comprehensively long. However, it does need to lay the groundwork for your business and help you understand, conceptually, how your business is going to operate. It will help you address some of the most important questions about your business and help you solve some of your earliest problems. It’s also going to serve as the blueprint you follow when building your business from scratch.
- Market research. Start by doing some market research. What types of clients are you looking for? How can you help them? What do these people need and how can you provide it to them? The better you understand your target demographics, the easier the rest of your business plan will fall into place.
- Competitive research. What are the other bookkeeping businesses that currently exist in your niche? How can you distinguish your bookkeeping business from these competitors? What can you learn from these competitors and what can you do differently?
- Startup needs. What are you going to need before you can kick your bookkeeping business into high gear? What type of devices, software, and other equipment do you need? Can you work remotely or do you need an office? How much money are you going to need to spend before you start seeing a return?
- An operational plan. You’ll also need to think about how you’re going to operate. What services are you going to provide? Will you offer a monthly subscription rate, a retainer fee, or will you charge on a per project basis? Do you plan on hiring other people?
- Financial projections. As a bookkeeper, you should already be familiar with some of the basics of financial projection. Figure out how much time and money you’re going to need to spend to get your business running and start providing services, then figure out what you’re going to charge and whether this is a profitable model.
- A plan for growth. Most bookkeeping businesses are interested in long-term growth, gradually achieving a bigger impact with more clients and a bigger stream of revenue. How are you going to get there?
Choose an Organizational Structure
Early in the planning process, you’ll also need to choose an organizational structure for your bookkeeping business. These are some of the most common choices:
- Sole proprietorship. In a sole proprietorship, you’ll be operating as an individual. This is the simplest type of organizational structure, so it’s very easy to get started with, but it also has some weaknesses and liabilities.
- Partnership. Partnerships function like sole proprietorships, but they allow you to work with another person (or multiple other people).
- Limited liability company (LLC). In a limited liability company, you’ll create a business entity to function separately from you. This business entity will be able to take on debt and liability issues, shielding you from liability and giving you more flexibility when it comes to taxes.
- Corporation. Corporations provide even more liability protection and several other benefits, but they also tend to be harder to start and manage.
Build Your Brand
With the basics ready, you can start building your brand. Choose a name for your business, a tag line, a logo, and brand standards that you’re going to follow throughout all your marketing and advertising campaigns. It’s also a good idea to think about the subjective nature of your brand; what kind of personality does it have and what are its core values?
Create a Website
Thanks to free website builders, it’s easier than ever to create a website. Creating a website gives you an opportunity to show off customer testimonials, a portfolio of your work, and explanations of the services you provide. It’s a practical necessity in the modern era.
Attract Your First Clients
With a website in place, you can start attracting your first clients. Through marketing, advertising, sales outreach, and networking, you can encounter people who have bookkeeping needs and make a pitch to them. As long as you are competitively differentiated and fairly priced, you should have no trouble getting your first few people on board.
From there, you can begin marketing more aggressively. Search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click (PPC) advertising, e-mail marketing, and social media marketing are some of your best digital marketing strategies.
Starting a bookkeeping business isn’t necessarily hard, but it is time consuming and it will challenge you. Make sure you’re ready for these challenges before you begin – and be prepared for some unforeseen obstacles as you start to grow.