Mastering the Art of Bookkeeping Business

Written by Joanne David
December 30, 2023

Mastering the Art of Bookkeeping Business: Your Comprehensive Guide to Success

Mastering the art of bookkeeping. A man sitting at the desk bookkeeping

Having your own bookkeeping business can be rewarding. However, the path to setting one up can be rocky and confusing at times. It may require careful planning and execution. This blog will explore some steps and strategies needed to launch and thrive in the bookkeeping industry.

Unveiling the Basics of Bookkeeping Business

 The Crucial Role of Bookkeepers
a blonde lady sitting at her desk
 The Crucial Role of Bookkeepers and bookkeeping

Contrary to common misconceptions, bookkeeping is not just about crunching numbers. It’s about maintaining and interpreting financial records. Bookkeepers ensure compliance with local laws, handle tax returns, and manage income and expenses. Bookkeeping is a vital part of businesses’ financial health. You must comply with what your Licence states.

 Distinction Between Bookkeepers and Accountants:

There are distinctions between certified bookkeepers and accountants. The basic idea is that Bookkeepers record daily financial transactions, and accountants analyse and interpret the data. Understanding these roles is fundamental to building a successful bookkeeping business.

 The role of a bookkeeper is changing and evolving in today’s world. Bookkeepers now offer so much more than they did in the old days. Some offer advisory services, whereas some do tax returns. There is more to what a bookkeeper does. Please check what your License states you can do and check with other resources.

Finding a group of bookkeepers can be invaluable for resources and advice. Look around social media for groups. I have been a part of one group for a few years now and have found so much support. If you join one and find it not for you, please try again and find your people.  

If you are part of a governing body like AAT( The Association of Accounting Technicians) or ICB (Institute of Certified Bookkeepers). ( what is relevant to where you are), they often have branch meetings and online forums, too.

Checklist for Launching Your Bookkeeping Business

 Obtain the Necessary Certification

Joanne David receiving her  bookkeeping certificate

While certification is not mandatory, a certified bookkeeper adds credibility to prospective clients and allows you to charge higher fees. Consider obtaining a certification from a reputable organisation such as AAT or ICB or doing a bookkeeping course. Please check what is available where you are. The UK governing bodies, like AAT or ICB, offer regular training to maintain your CPD points, AML compliance, and more.

 Develop a Comprehensive Business Plan

a lady mapping out a plan for her bookkeeping business

So they say every successful small business begins with a well-thought-out plan, but remember, plans can change as the business grows. Outline your strategy, analyse the market, estimate startup costs, and establish a clear management structure. A solid business plan lays the foundation for the success of your professional bookkeeping business.

 That is the boring definition. Let us explore a bit deeper. How about looking at what you want to offer in your bookkeeping firm? Offer what you are currently comfortable with within your area of expertise. As the business grows, you can expand your skills and knowledge, so go easy on yourself and take it all in your stride because you have this. Take a look at your target market or ideal client. Check out local businesses and see if there is a local accounting firm.

This can help with your client base. Look at your costs, equipment, subscriptions, licence fees, and package costs for cloud accounting if you use practice management software. Write out all the expenses and costs you need to run your business, and remember the electric bill if you work from home. Now consider how many hours and days of the week you want to work. How many clients are you considering working with? 

Then there is the personal cost, the cost of your everyday bills, and remembering fun money, holidays, and more. There is no point in having your own business and no fun. Include it all in your working out. By considering everything, you can start to work a plan out and create a contingency plan for backup. This will help you determine what you want to earn and the pricing for your services. There are courses out there that help with the startup of a business, and I highly recommend you take a look and invest in one. If you need any suggestions, you can send a message, and I can send you one. 

Competing with other bookkeeping businesses

a lady running in a race

I have stopped competing with others on cost because it causes stress and strain, plus self-doubt. Well, for me, it did, and the client will see the value in you and your offering. If potential clients choose by price, and I mean a lower price, that is their decision, and do your very best not to get disheartened. They are just not your ideal client. We all go through a stage where I think of getting too wrapped up in what others are doing or charging. We get lost in the noise or try to fit in and compete with others. Is that why you started a business for yourself? 

As a small business owner, do what is right for you and your business. Take a look around once in a while. Something may have changed, and you can gain from it, upscale or even offer more, and build on your business. Finding your group of like-minded people in an ever-growing industry and world, as it can be lonely working on your own, and connections with others help to keep us going. Finding like-minded people for support and collaboration can help us get our business where we want. We don’t need to compete when we can support each other. After all, there are more people than bookkeepers. So, there is enough for everyone to get a piece of the pie.

a lady holding up old fashioned weighing scales
Here is a little breakdown:
Business name:

Research ideas for your business name. Remember, if you use your own name and build a brand around it, when or if you ever sell that business, your brand and name go with it. Search online and check that the name is not being used. You can check with places like Companies House and other resources like Google.

Business Structure:

Sole proprietorship, Partnership, LTD, etc. Set up what is correct for your business. Remember to register with HMRC if you have not done so. Seek advice where necessary and do your research. It is your business, and you must protect yourself. You will also need a business bank account. This makes it easier for new clients and existing clients to pay you.

Business insurance:

  Check with your governing body. They may have recommendations and offer a discount. Consider whether you will have clients come to your address. You will need business professional indemnity insurance and public liability insurance. Also, check your home insurance or see if you can get coverage on your business insurance. If you have a garden office, that is most likely not covered by your home insurance and you will need to get special or added insurance. Consider whether you will have staff. Are they remote, in-house or hybrid? Look at what to include for employer’s insurance, etc. Talk to insurance companies and see what is right for your business.

Email address:

 Some resources are not expensive to set up. For example, more professional email addresses are available, such as Gmail or Outlook. I use a setting in Gmail that lets you set up other email addresses. These addresses link to your main account, e.g., hello@******.com or info@*******.com. These can be very helpful and give an email a professional feel. They can also be tailored and styled to your needs, like adding your signature and other details like a website.

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Where you can find clients:

  Look at social media and decide where you might find your clients. We know there are three main ones: LinkedIn, FaceBook and Instagram. There is also Google My Business and directories like Yell.com, where you can add a free listing. They have a section that will scan your business details and list around 20 or so other directories; this gives you a list to follow and list your business on these directories.

I recently discovered Meeow networking. It is an online networking platform; check it out. Here is a little tip: you do not have to stick with one type of networking:

a small group of ladies networking
What do I mean?

I will tell you a little story. I was on my first Meeow Networking event for the 6 Figure bookkeepers. Attending as a bookkeeper. There was a gentleman there who was not a bookkeeper. This networking group is for the bookkeepers to all support, chat, and inspire each other. There were 4 of us in a group. This is how the system works, which I like. On-screen prompts, which massively helps. If you like me, go blank when it is your turn.

Anyway, I have strayed. 

Who was he?

The gentleman was not a bookkeeper. He was looking for potential clients as he changed his line of work. We were both setting up new businesses in the same line of work. One member of the group needed help with marketing strategy. The bookkeeper received help from both of us, as it was a great opportunity to test our skills. It was a lot of fun, and I learned much about networking and what it can offer. I had not thought outside the box then, but I thought he had a great idea. Who says you must stick to certain areas when you have so many options?

 You never know who you may get talking to or where it can lead. Expand your horizons and join all sorts of groups. It is not so different from in-person networking and can be fun. It is great for research. Leap into the world of networking. They are more supportive than you realise.

Tools of the Trade – Accounting Software and Equipment

man working  bookkeeping in a computer in the clouds

Choose the Right Accounting Software

Efficiently manage your clients’ finances by leveraging accounting software. Explore free and paid options like QuickBooks and FreeAgent for small and medium-sized businesses. Embrace technology to streamline your bookkeeping processes. Look at cloud accounting software as one of your tools. They all include bookkeeping software. It needs to fit in with your and your client’s needs. Try the free trials. Look at YouTube for helpful videos. Check out accountancy shows like the Digital Accounting Show and Accountex. These show up and down the country in the UK and are valuable for trying out new software. You can talk to the stand staff and get some great freebies.

Accounting software will allow clients to link business bank accounts. Makes it easier to get a more or less up-to-date real-time look at the bank statements. Check the software updating procedures or times that they update. Sometimes, though, it can miss out on a transaction or two. If the numbers do not add up, please bear this in mind. They are improving this problem all the time. From what I understand, it is not down to the software but something to do with how the banks update. It also helps with the financial statements, reports and cash flow.

Receipts can be uploaded. Check the details like numbers and information. They occasionally pick up the wrong details. It all depends on how well the print is on the receipt. Just like humans, we all make mistakes, and nothing is perfect. Bookkeepers can do a lot with cloud accounting. It is helping to grow our skills and take on more clients. 

Set Up Your Home Office space.

lady sitting in her office frowning whilst doing the bookkeeping

Are you Considering operating from home? Ensure you have a dedicated space for your bookkeeping client paperwork, like a locked cabinet, if not a virtual remote bookkeeper. Invest in essential equipment like a computer, backup hard disks, and maybe another screen. What a game-changer it was for me to be able to look at the cloud accounting on one screen and the bank statements on another. Backing everything up to the cloud is the best. Make it a daily practice because if the computer fails, much work and compliance work is gone. Save yourself the stress and back up regularly.

 Look at receipt tools like Scan Snap. If you are going virtual, look at accounting software tools for snapping receipts. There are so many online tools that we can use to make our business more efficient.

There are also password manager apps and authorising apps that help with 2-factor security.

It is your office space.

lady sitting in her office  bookkeeping

Make your home office setup as you would like as best as possible. For example, I do have a computer. I also have a laptop as backup and a monitor that can be connected to either. This has become invaluable on so many levels. I am under the stairs in a small space. Occasionally, I change my office location space to the kitchen or, the best in the summer, to the back garden. This also helps with the office mindset; as they say, change is good. There are also many co-working spaces available, pretty much everywhere.

 Being a virtual bookkeeper does give me more options to move around the house. Most computers or laptops come with cameras and built-in microphones. You can also get separate ones if you are unhappy with the sound and visuals.

Comfort is key
woman siting in a chair asleep

Comfortable chairs and cushions that support the bottom and back have become essential. I also recommend foot support, especially if your height has alluded you. If you are 5ft 2 like me, I struggle to get the chair’s height to the desk right. These cushions make it more comfortable. Another tip: I use a small under-desk bike to help with leg circulation. Of course, getting up regularly and moving or stretching is very helpful and vital to our health. But I know that many bookkeepers get so caught up in what we are doing that we can forget to move away from the desk and get some movement in. I tried setting timers but dismissed them and carried on. Not good, I know.

Then there is the fun stuff like stationary. I love stationery and get some of my best stationery from a business box subscription. This comes with many goodies for personal life, work, and mindset. The books are always helpful. Why not treat yourself to a subscription box? That once-a-month knock on the door with your box brings some excitement to working at home. Some offer trainings on improving and keeping up to date with your skills. Which is very helpful in running a business.

Continuous Learning and Growth

man sitting at a desk learning

Stay Up to Date

Bookkeeping is a dynamic field, and staying informed is crucial. Connecting with other professionals in your industry. Attend conferences or webinars, take online courses to enhance your skills, and be part of a governing body. Keeping your CPDs up to date. Socialize with fellow entrepreneurs to combat the potential monotony of working from home.

Attending different accounting shows is excellent for keeping up to date, meeting others, and trying out the latest tech. The best bonus is leaving your home for an adventure for you and your business.

If you need help with your mindset. We all do in one way or another. Many groups online or in person can help, and the cost is not always unaffordable. You can find a business coach or mentors. They are essential in my mindset growth and, in turn, have massively helped me in my business. 

Conclusion:

Starting a home-based or freelance bookkeeping business is an achievable goal with knowledge and dedication. Remember that everything happens at a different pace than we want. That does not mean you are in the wrong place. Have patience, and if in doubt, reach out.

 Following these steps can lay some of the groundwork for a bookkeeping adventure. There is more, but it would take writing a book to cover all the parts that I am doing. I hope this has helped to give some guidance on the joys of setting up a bookkeeping business.

Remember, you are not alone in this business. Continuous growth in your skills, both professional and personal growth, with adaptability. It is key to long-term success in the ever-evolving field of bookkeeping.

We all encounter gloomy days, but amidst those moments, recall your “why.” Why have you chosen this path? For whom are you embarking on this journey? It will be worth it because you have the strength within you. Remember that every plan seldom unfolds exactly as expected, and change is inevitable. Most often, these changes lead to positive outcomes. Embrace the opportunity to enhance your skills and gain a comprehensive understanding of every facet of managing a business.

Understanding what you can delegate and what you prefer to handle yourself brings clarity. Through the skills gained in setting up your business, there sometimes comes a time when, in case of illness or setbacks of the person you outsourced to, your skills allow you to step in and fill the gap until things return to normal.

Please reach out and know that there is help out there.

Look out for more tips and blogs as I spill the beans on setting up and growing a business. 

Joanne David sitting under a tree

Joanne David

Joanne David has been running her own online Virtual Bookkeeping business since 2018. In 2023, she began working with Entrepreneurs, Sole Traders and Self employed Businesses to help them get Hope, Clarity and progress in the foundations of their business with Bookkeeping, marketing and business strategy in her Breakthrough sessions, aka VIP calls.

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The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article are not intended to amount to advice, and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article. Some of the links in the articles are affiliate links which means I may receive commission payments from these links. Please research, and Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article. Joanne David and Chapter Foundations which is part of Chapter Bookkeeping disclaim all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article. Some links may have affiliate links.

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