Most individuals who try to run their own virtual bookkeeping business work much too hard, are severely underpaid, and ultimately fail miserably. No, it is not because they lack the necessary bookkeeping skills. So, why do so many bookkeepers fail? They fail because they:
- have not discovered the most effective marketing methods that attract new clients almost automatically;
- do not know how to keep their clients happy, so they can charge premium rates and get paid promptly every single month;
- are clueless about the actual online tools they need to deliver bookkeeping services more profitably using the power of the internet.
On top of these reasons, online technology is moving so fast that you cannot afford to take months to figure out the software and other available tools. Otherwise, you risk falling so far behind that you will never be able to catch up and finally get your business off the ground. This guide will point you in the right direction and help you to avoid some mistakes.
What you should know
Owning a bookkeeping company is not just about bookkeeping. There are other skills and knowledge that you have to develop to start and continue to run a successful virtual bookkeeping company. As a new owner, you will need to master these skills and techniques if your business is to be successful:
- Practical plan with a solid foundation
- Dedication and willingness to sacrifice to reach your goal
- Technical skills
- Basic knowledge of management, finance, recordkeeping, and market analysis.
As the first and often overlooked step, ask yourself why you want to own your own business. Is it freedom from the 9-5 daily work routine, being your own boss, or doing what you want and when you want to do it? Maybe, you just want to improve your standard of living or simply bored with your present job. Some reasons are better than others, but none are wrong.
At the same time, be aware that there are tradeoffs. For example, you might spend more time and effort getting your business up and running than you currently spend on your job, or your new business will not be as profitable as you planned, especially in the beginning.
Once you are sure that having a business is what you really want, you need to study marketing and sales strategies to attract clients. People skills are also very valuable because you are dealing with real people and not just numbers. Of course, you will also need to have at least basic knowledge of bookkeeping and software you plan to use.
How to get your first clients
Receiving training in bookkeeping, getting your website up and registering your business is great, but how do you get your first clients? First, obtaining clients starts with you identifying your ideal client and knowing your value. The next step is networking to form connections with people. Social media is a powerful and, most importantly, free tool, so use it to announce that you are starting your bookkeeping business. You can also use WordPress, or any other tool, to create your business website and better market your services.
Your friends and family who have a business or have connections to business can also recommend you to business owners, so do not be ashamed to talk to them about your new venture. Another way is to join a networking group or a local business association. Remember, the most important is your ability to create relationships that will draw people to you. People should feel comfortable giving you their bookkeeping and financial information.
Another tip we would like to give new bookkeepers is to choose an industry and stick to it. This is where you will look for clients. Narrowing down your potential client list, you do not limit yourself. Instead, you will be able to master this industry and provide much better services. So, rather than spreading yourself thin, become a true professional in your specific area and this will attract more clients to you.
We would also like to say that you can have more average paying clients rather than a few super high paying clients. The rationale behind this is if you have more average paying clients, then if you lose one for any reason it will not be such a big hit on your finances. It is also much easier to find average paying clients and replace them if they choose to go.
Bookkeeping business tips and advice
One of the points we would like to bring to the attention of bookkeeping entrepreneurs is that you can have a successful business and not offer all the bookkeeping services you can possibly offer. You need to focus on what you do best and on what you are comfortable doing at this point. Do not listen to what others are telling you, do what benefits your business.
Another misconception that many people have is that you need to have a college degree, be a CPA, and everything right away to be a bookkeeper. You need to learn only what you need to know to get to the next stage. For example, if you are not offering payroll services at this point, you can learn about payroll later on, when you are ready. Thus, do not let your lack of knowledge of all the bookkeeping concepts to stop you from starting a bookkeeping business. When you hit a wall, you can learn the unfamiliar concept and move on.
The money is another wall that stops many from starting their own business. You can start with your laptop and your home or apartment as an office for your virtual bookkeeping business. There is a ton of free educational resources online that you can use to educate yourself about bookkeeping. You can also get QuickBooks Online for accountants for free. In fact, we strongly encourage you to start with an online bookkeeping software right away. Why?
Online bookkeeping software will make you more efficient. Many of the bookkeeping tasks will be automatically done for and all you will have to do is check that everything is categorized right and do a month-end reconciliation. Your clients will also appreciate that they do not have to deal with all the paperwork. Moreover, they will be able to access their financial information at any time, which will increase transparency and trust.
Starting a business does not mean that you have to quit your current job and place your own and your family’s finances in jeopardy. You can spend a couple of hours on a weekend and/or half an hour in the evening to promote your new business and do bookkeeping for your first client. When you get more efficient at what you are doing, you can get more clients.
Once you get enough clients to cover your daily living expenses, which can take you from several weeks to several months, you can consider making your business your full-time job. Remember, time does not matter. What matters is that you are already in the game and you have a chance to make this business as big as you want.
We hope that this article will inspire you to make that first step and break through all the misconceptions. After all, starting your own business on the side does not require much. Yet, it can turn into something big and something you will actually enjoy.
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Author: Charles Lutwidge