Bookkeepers are highly skilled professionals who provide support and specialised services to businesses, entrepreneurs, executives, and others who have more work to do than time to do it. Examples of services a bookkeeper can do include installing accounting software, raising invoices, entering purchase and bills, paying suppliers, entering bank transactions, reconciling your bank account, credit control and several more tasks. This can be the perfect work-at-home opportunity for many with good computer and internet skills.
Here are several Do's and Don'ts to keep in mind before starting and running your Bookkeeping business.
DO -- Decide on a target market and your ideal client. Focus your marketing efforts in that area. By developing a "niche", your reputation spreads quickly and soon you become a recognised expert.
DO -- Be creative about where you can find business. The internet offers a large variety of potential for clients just waiting for you to contact them. Actively network and don't limit your marketing to simply placing a few ads in newspapers. Find where there might be a need-and go fill it!
DO -- Write a business and marketing plan. Too many bookkeepers starting out leave out this vital step and waste valuable time disorganised and without clear goals and direction for their business. When starting a business you will have tons of ideas floating around. You need to put these into a workable plan of action.
DO -- Develop a website that looks professional! Your website is often the first connection a potential client has with your services. It must immediately let them know that they are dealing with a professional. Your site must then have the POWER to draw them to you and contact you. Let them see that you value quality by the look and feel of it. Let them know what services you offer and why you are qualified to offer those services by mentioning your experience and education. Be sure to include why you stand out among your competitors and are the BEST!
DO -- Learn everything you can about starting a business. Knowledge is power and the more you know, the greater your chances of success. Look to online services and message boards and chats to talk with other Bookkeepers operating a business. Remember these are often run by pros that have been in business for years and are willing to share their experience.
DO -- Join associations such as the International Association of Bookkeepers and the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers in the UK. By connecting with these associations and being active, you learn from them what works and what doesn’t and you are able to post your questions to associate members via list serves often getting answers to your questions within minutes.
DO – keep learning. By continuing to increase your skills and your knowledge of your profession, the end result is a more confident satisfied you. Every tip you get from a book or course can be a new tool in your business. I recommend highlighting areas from several books and adding them to your library. Keep in mind that you might not use that idea today, but it might apply to specialties you might add down the road.
DO – Have fun!! There’s no greater feeling than landing your first client or finishing your first big project. Plus, wait until you get the opportunity to tell someone you own and operate your own virtual bookkeeping business. Plus, when you enjoy your business it shows. Your clients will sense your positive attitude and want to be a part of your team.
The next part of this article details the DON'Ts of starting and working in your own business. It is so easy to fall into the trap of giving discounts or free trials. If you do the maths, giving a 10% discount means you have to generate 20% MORE work - do you have 20% MORE time in your day or want to work 20% longer?
DON'T -- Under-price your services. The average bookkeeper today makes £25 to £45 an hour, depending on their skills, services offered, location, and years of experience. Don’t make the mistake of assuming if you charge the lowest prices, you’ll get the most work. You won’t. Instead, you’ll end up working outrageous hours for peanuts! Clients will pay more for professional services. When a potential client discovers you’re charging a lower rate than standard, they often feel they will receive a quality of services that is also lower.
DON'T -- Overextend yourself. One of the common mistakes many bookkeepers make is to accept too much work and then not be able to accurately complete it. Learn to say no or have a back-up helper who can assist you with any overflow work. Remember one of the most important ingredients for success is keeping your clients satisfied. If you overextend yourself and make a lot of errors, it will jeopardise your business.
DON'T -- Get discouraged. It takes time to get a business going. Plan ahead and have money saved in reserve. Don’t buy items until you have found the best possible price and there is an absolute need. This advance planning takes the pressure off of having to make money. If things are slow and the phone just isn’t ringing ... MAKE IT RING!! There’s plenty of work out there, you just need to pursue it.
Finally, the most important ingredient for success is your belief in yourself. If you believe that with your skills and experience, you can own your own business, then there’s nothing stopping you. DREAMS DO COME TRUE. SOMETIMES YOU JUST NEED TO MAKE THEM HAPPEN. Good luck.