Starting a Bookkeeping Business
In this post, you’ll get a strong overview of what it takes to start a bookkeeping business. Then, we will go over the steps involved. We will also look at some important points to consider before starting your bookkeeping business that may change your perspective. Finally, I have put together a collection of unique resources that you can use when you are in the start-up phase and when your company is up and running.
You may want to save this post so you can return any time to use the resources.
1. Research the Accounting Industry
The more research you perform before starting your bookkeeping business, the better off you’ll be. You’ll start to make informed decisions and have a strong background in the business before you get started.
Researching your bookkeeping business is key to getting started on the right track.
a.) An Inside Look at A Bookkeeping Business
There are a few exercises in this process, and it will take some time to complete. However, once you go through the procedures, you will have acquired priceless information that you can’t get from anywhere else to help you succeed in the bookkeeping business.
Bookkeeping Businesses for Sale
To get started, search for bookkeeping businesses for sale. Then, make a list of the businesses for sale and contact the owners of each.
Tell them that you’re planning to start your own bookkeeping business, but before you do, you’re considering purchasing one. Ask if you can meet to discuss the opportunity. Make as many appointments as possible and prepare to list of questions and topics to discuss with the business owner.
Meeting With the Business Owner
When you meet with a business owner, you don’t want to start with in-depth questions about the business. Instead, you want them to open up to you so you can start by asking questions related to their experience with the business. Some of those questions may include the following examples:
- What made you want to start a bookkeeping business?
- What do you like most about your business?
- What are the biggest challenges you face with your business?
- What can you tell me about your customers?
- What would you do differently if you had to start your business from scratch?
- As a new business owner, what advice would you have for me to succeed in this industry?
At this point, you were discussing the business owner’s experience, and now you can start to ask more in-depth questions about the business. Along with your list of questions, you may also want to ask the following examples questions:
- What type of software do you use?
- How much do you charge per hour?
- How many customers do you have on a retainer?
- How much revenue did your business have last year?
- How much of that revenue is pure profit?
- How many employees do you have?
- What do you pay your employees?
- What are your most profitable accounts?
With the above exercise, you are getting inside information. Remember that it’s not just the questions, but each part of your conversation leads to information you can use, so make sure you listen, take notes, and ask as many questions as you need.
Next, we will look at franchise opportunities.
Bookkeeping Franchise Opportunities
Now you’re going to search for franchise opportunities related to bookkeeping.
In the above exercise, you were speaking with business owners. Here you’ll be speaking with company representatives. First, they are going to give you a presentation about the opportunity. Then, you can tell them your plans to start your own business and discuss the better route to take, whether that’s a franchise or starting your own business. You also have the opportunity to ask for advice and questions related to the industry.
Asking for Advice
Another way to get inside information is to ask for it from people in the industry.
Contact bookkeeping business owners in a distant area so that you’re not contacting people you are competing against.
In the initial contact, let the owner know that you’re not competing with them and you’re planning to start a bookkeeping business, and you want to talk to someone with expertise.
Ask if they would be open to scheduling an hour or two of their time so you can ask some questions. Tell them you would be open to a long-term relationship where you can both benefit from brainstorming and discussing operations and possible collaboration. You could also offer them a consultation fee for the hour or two they’ll be speaking with you.
Many may reject your offer because they may think of you as a threat, they don’t have the time, or they don’t care. But for those who do, this can turn into a long-term professional relationship and possibly a friendship.
In the section, you will search for published Interviews with bookkeeping business owners.
Business owners with published interviews must have something to offer, or they wouldn’t have been interviewed. So read about what they have to say. Keep in mind these people have years of experience and are willing to share it with those interested, so you want to find as many interviews as possible and take in the information.
Many of these business owners also leave their contact information. You could use the previous method of contacting business owners to get in touch with them for more information and possibly develop a business relationship. Search Results Related to Interviews From Bookkeeping Business Owners.
For more on this method, see An Inside Look Into The Business You’re Considering.
b.) Expand Your Knowledge of the Accounting Industry
Keeping up-to-date with the accounting industry is something that will keep you informed. You can subscribe to industry publications, accounting blogs, newsletters, follow experts on social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
The information is out there. You have to find it, organize it, and use it.
For a bookkeeping business, it’s essential to stay up-to-date with the tax laws so that you can make changes as necessary.
c.) Choosing a Location for Your Bookkeeping Business
The location you choose for your bookkeeping business is essential and a strong factor in determining your success. For example, if you locate in an area with low demand for bookkeeping services, opening in that area doesn’t make sense. On the other hand, it will be hard to gain new clients if the area is saturated with bookkeeping services.
One of the advantages of a bookkeeping business is locating from your home and working remotely. Suppose you can get clients you rarely have to meet with in person. Instead, they can send you their documentation through email or in the mail. Running a bookkeeping business remotely is an option worth considering.
Another option is starting your business from home. This type of business is suited for a home-based business. You can keep your expenses down and if your business is expanding to you can also relocate to a commercial space.
For more, see Choosing the Best Location for Your Business.
2. Choose a Name for Your Bookkeeping Business
Choosing a business name takes time and is an important factor because the name you choose today is the name you will use for as long as you own the business.
You can use resources online to gain ideas for a good name for a bookkeeping business. You can find lists and business name generators, which will help get the creativity flowing.
I suggest creating a list of 10 to 20 names and then leaving your list for a few days. You will see it from a fresh perspective when you return to it. Then, choose the top five from your list and look into registration availability for the name along with a matching domain name.
Once you have a list of five available names for registration, print them out to see how they look on paper. Use them in sentences and read them out loud to see how they sound and if it’s easy to pronounce the name. Ask for feedback on the names. Then make your final decision on the name you’ll use for your bookkeeping business and register it.
3. Legalizing Your Business
Before any activity takes place, you must make sure your business is registered and legal. Let’s take a look at the following three areas to focus on.
a.) Decide on a Legal Structure
Many new business owners will start off as a sole proprietorship because it’s the easiest to create and the least expensive; however, it has the least personal asset protection. In other words, if your business goes bankrupt or is filed or a lawsuit is filed against it, your personal assets are at risk. On the other hand, structure in your business as a corporation has liability protection against your personal assets because the business, even though you own shares, is a separate entity; therefore, your personal assets are not at risk.
It’s also worth noting that sole proprietorship can only be owned by one person, so you’ll have to look at a different type of registration if you have partners. Finally, it’s also worth noting that you can start off as a sole proprietorship. Then, once your business becomes successful, you can transform it into a corporation or a similar structure with liability protection.
b.) Get a Tax Id
The type of business structure you register and if you have employees or not will determine whether or not you’ll need a Tax ID at this point. For example, if you start as a sole proprietorship and have no employees, you may not need a Tax ID. However, once you hire or switch your business structure, you may need one at that point.
For more see Here’s How To Get A Business Tax Id
c.) Local Permits and Regulations
Although a bookkeeping business won’t require any special permits, contact your local municipality or City Hall to inquire about local permits that you may need. Although many municipalities have similar laws and regulations, some of them differ; therefore, it’s better to find out what laws and regulations are in place in your area.
4. Create Your Corporate ID
Your corporate ID is something you want to focus on because your corporate ID leaves an impression on your customers. A professional design leaves a good impression, while a poorly designed corporate ID will reflect badly on your service.
The components of a corporate ID are as follows:
- Business cards
- Business checks
- Promotional material
Corporate IDs can be expensive. Therefore, you can create your logo and business cards to start and add the other components when your business is more stable.
For More See:
5. Estimating Your Start-up Cost
Your start-up costs will depend on the size of your business and how you set it up. For example, if you’re starting a home-based business and you’re the only one working, then your start-up cost will be low compared to setting up in a commercial space and hiring employees.
When estimating start-up costs, make a list of everything you need and get pricing, other issues may show up, and you can add them to your list. Be as accurate as possible because if you estimate too low, you may run out of cash, and if you estimate too high and you’re looking for financing, you may run into trouble.
When it comes to start-up costs, consider your living expenses if you’re running this business full-time. You still have personal bills and expenses you have to pay, so you’ll need to put living expenses on the side until your business kicks in and starts to earn enough revenue to support the business expenses and your personal living costs.
For more see Estimating Start-up Costs: Are You Missing Anything?
6. Writing a Bookkeeping Business Plan
A business plan is an essential document for business owners. It keeps you on track and forces you to consider how you’ll set up your business, run it, and promote it. It’s also an essential document if you’re looking for funding because a bank will not process your business loan application without a professional business plan.
Your business plan is a document you should review periodically to make sure you’re on track and make necessary changes to the document or your business.
Writing a business plan takes time and effort. However, there are a few options:
- One: You can use a template.
- Two: You can use software that will guide you step-by-step through each process.
- Three: You can hire a professional business plan writer to create your document for you.
It’s worth mentioning that whatever option you choose, it’s you that has to provide the information and strategy you’ll be using.
7. Banking Setup
You will want to set up a bank account for your business. As you already know, as a bookkeeper, you must keep your personal account and your business account separate to process your taxes accordingly.
It’s not so much about the bank, but the banker you deal with is important. A good relationship with a banker can help you get out of a financial jam. For example, let’s say you are getting a lot of new clients and need to expand. A good relationship with your banker can help you get the funds you need.
For more, see our page on How To Choose A Business Bank.
Acquiring a Merchant Account
Depending on your set up you may have clients that want to pay you using their credit or debit cards, in which case you’ll need a merchant account. Again a competent banker can help you with the application process to get approved.
8. Get the Funding for Your Bookkeeping Business
If you need funding to start your business, then it’s time to make copies of your business plan and start making appointments with lenders to apply for a business loan.
It’s worth noting that banks view new start-ups as high-risk loans because many businesses fail during the first few years of operation. Therefore a bank would rather process loans for businesses with a proven track record than take a chance on a start-up.
If your loan is declined, rather than becoming disappointed, figure out the problem and do your best to address it before moving on to the next lender or reapplying.
Also, take a look at our post on, Getting a Small Business Loan.
9. Software Setup
The software you use for your bookkeeping is one of the most important assets to your bookkeeping business. You want something powerful and provide updates because of the changes in tax laws.
You may want to consider the functionality that will allow your clients to keep track of the receipts and email you their files so you can balance the books for them and file their taxes.
When it comes to software, it’s always a good idea to check reviews for those packages you were unfamiliar with, and many software companies offer demos so you can try the program before making a purchase.
You want a strong computer system with printers, scanners, etc.
You may also want to consider a scanning system where you can archive your client’s documents. You’ll also want an offsite backup system for your electronic documents.
Also, consider filing cabinets that hold important documents you need to keep hard copies of.
10. Get Your Bookkeeping Business Insured
Even though most of your business will consist of an office, he will still need business insurance. For example, you may have a client that comes into your office and trips and falls. Without insurance, you could have a huge financial burden on your hands.
You may also want to consider interruption insurance, which will cover your revenue if you need to close down due to a fire or flood.
A competent business insurance broker can advise you on what you’ll need and the best route to take.
11. Bookkeeping Business Office Setup
Your office setup is one of the most important parts of setting up your bookkeeping business. All activity is done in this space; therefore, it must be organized, comfortable, and fully functional. For example, you want to make sure the desk and chair styles you choose allow you to work effectively and at your peak performance.
You’ll also want your office decor to be pleasant and to your preference, because you’ll be spending most of your time in the office.
For more see, Here Are Considerations for the Setup of Your Office.
12. Hiring Employees
In the early stages of operation, you may be considering doing all the work yourself, and as long as that doesn’t restrict your services, that’s a good plan. However, as your business grows, you may need to hire employees.
You must hire the right person for each position the first time around because making mistakes in the hiring process can cost you dearly in terms of lost time and money.
When hiring, instead of looking at the hourly cost, look at the yearly expense because you’ll see the cost of hiring from a different perspective.
For example, a small staff of just five people can cost you in the six-figure range. Comparing that to $15 or $20 an hour allows you to see the hiring process from a different perspective and take more time to ensure you’re hiring the right people the first time around.
For more on hiring, see How and When to Hire a New Employee.
What To Consider Before Starting Your Bookkeeping Business
Next, we will consider a few points before starting your bookkeeping business. Take some time to think about each of them because they may change your plans.
Is Running a Bookkeeping Business Right for You?
Many people get into business for various reasons, and you wanna make sure you’re getting into a bookkeeping business for the right reasons. One thing I suggest having is a passion for your business. When you’re passionate, you’ll have the determination and driving force you need to succeed. On the other hand, if you’re not passionate about the business you’re running, you’ll be looking for a way out instead of a solution when problems show up.
For an idea about how passionate you are about your business, let me ask you this question. If you had all the money you would need for the rest of your life and had the freedom to do whatever you wanted, would you open a bookkeeping business? If you answered yes, then you’re on the right track, but if you answered no, then what would you be doing instead? And should you be Focussing on that?
For more, see Reasons To Start a Business
Do You Have the Skills To Run A Bookkeeping Business?
In many businesses, there are two parts of a business.
You have to have the skills to manage your business.
You have to have the skills for operations. Some people possess both, while others will possess skills and operations but not skills in management and vice versa.
The good news is if you lack skills in one or the other, you can learn them or hire someone with the skills you lack. Keep in mind that when you hire people, you want to understand every part of your business, whether in management or operations.
When you let others handle that part of your business without understanding, you were at their mercy.
Is It Better To Start a Bookkeeping Business From Scratch or Buy One?
There are pros and cons of buying a business compared to starting your own. Let’s go over the main ones next.
- When you purchase a business already operating, you bypass the start-up phase.
- One of the most popular reasons for purchasing a business is purchasing goodwill which includes a customer base, the reputation the business has built, and any assets the business has acquired.
- When you purchase a business that’s already an operation, you start to earn revenue from the day you take over.
- Not only do you purchase the good that the business has, but you also inherit any problems such as a poor reputation, excessive debt, liens or lawsuits, etc.
- It’s usually more expensive to purchase a business already in operation because of the goodwill.
- So you have to weigh the pros and cons of the added expense to determine if it’s worth paying the extra money to acquire the business’s customer base.
- Suppose you’re planning on making significant changes. In that case, you may disrupt the operation of the business, and you may be better off starting from scratch than changing something that’s already working.
Should You Consider a Franchise?
Purchasing a franchise has its pros and cons. Let’s go over a few of the popular ones next.
- Everything is set up for you when you sign up for a franchise. The look and style of your business are set up, the marketing is already in place, and people know what to expect from your business when you sign up for a popular franchise.
- Operating the business is a simple as following the procedures set up by the corporate office.
- You bypass the start-up phase, which takes time and a lot of guesswork.
- You can’t make changes to the way you operate your business. All change must go through the corporate office because a franchise system is standard across all locations.
- There are ongoing franchise fees for as long as you own the business.
- You have very little control.
Bookkeeping Business Resources
In this part of the post, we will go over the resources. These can be useful during the startup phase and when your bookkeeping business is up and running. You may want to bookmark this page to use the resources when you need them.
Bookkeeping Business Industry Trends and Statistics
Trends and statistics are a great way to keep up with your industry and get an idea of how it’s doing. It’s also data you can look at to determine if something is missing in the industry or something you’ve missed. Another useful point for trends and statistics is getting a benchmark for the industry and using that for comparison.
Bookkeeping Business Industry Terminology
Whatever industry you’re in, it’s important to understand and be familiar with the terminology. Then, with years of experience, you’ll pick up the terminology naturally. So my point is, why wait? The information is there now. All you have to do is go through it.
An association is a great way to increase your familiarity with the business industry. In addition, many associations offer educational material, industry trends and statistics, and events that you can attend and network with other people in the industry.
You may also want to consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce so that you can get to know other business owners in the area and bring awareness to your bookkeeping service. Click Here To View Associations Related to the Accounting Industry. You May Also Want To Check Out Our Page for Tips and Insights About Joining a Trade Association.
Top Bookkeeping Business Businesses
Looking at the top bookkeeping services allows you to gain insights into the competition. By looking at many businesses at once, you may be able to pick up a service that the competition is missing or performing poorly. Implementing those into your bookkeeping business may have found a competitive edge if you can implement those.
Another point is you may find something that you’re missing in your business and put it in place right away. Search Google for the Top Bookkeeping Business in Your Area.
Bookkeeping Business Marketing Tips
A bookkeeping business without clients is pretty much worthless. It’s your clients that make your business valuable. Without marketing, it will be difficult to build a client base. Marketing can be simple, or it can be difficult. If you wanna make it simple, think of it as bringing awareness to your company.
There are thousands of tips online to help you promote your bookkeeping service. If you check out the latest tips, you have nothing to lose. Have a Look at the Latest Articles for Marketing a Bookkeeping Business.
Whether you’re experienced or not, it’s a good idea to stay up-to-date with tips and insights for bookkeeping.
Again here, you have nothing to lose. The worst I can happen is you get a refresher. So why not take a few minutes to go through the information available.
My recommendation is to check in once a month to see what’s new regarding bookkeeping tips. Have a Look at the search results for tips related to Bookkeeping.
Books Related To a Bookkeeping Business
Putting together a collection of books will allow you to have the information you need when you need it. I like nonfiction books because you don’t have to read the book from cover to cover but instead flip through the table of contents and go to the chapter with the information you’re looking for. View the Most Recent Google Search Results for Bookkeeping Business Books.
Accounting Industry News
Keeping up to date with your industry through the news is possible through Google’s news site. All you need to do is type in your keyword, and you’ll get a list of all the latest and archived new stories in the media.
You’ll also get a list of related topics you may not have considered. You can even create an alert to send you an email whenever something new appears related to your keyword. See Google’s News Search Results Related to the Accounting Industry.
Bookkeeping Business Tweets
Twitter is a popular social media site where people speak their minds and just a few words. What I like about Twitter is that you can go through many tweets in a short period. In addition, many of these tweets contain links to resources you can use. See the Most Recent Tweets Related to Bookkeeping
Bookkeeping Business Videos on YouTube
YouTube is the top video site online. It is the go-to site for many people, especially those looking for free tutorials. Like Google News, YouTube offers a list of videos related to your keyword that you may not have considered, and I find it very accurate.
So take some time and check out what’s new on YouTube related to bookkeeping. See the Most Recent Videos Related to a Bookkeeping Business