Regardless of the sector, every business needs a bookkeeper. Not only do bookkeepers ensure that a company’s finances are on track, they also keep things in order to stay on the right side of the law.
If bookkeeping sounds like the right job for you, read on to find out how to get started. We’ll cover everything from what you’ll need to start to locating customers and raising funds.
Do Your Research
While bookkeeping isn’t an extremely specialized profession, you’ll still need qualifications. After making sure you have a firm plan and can go where your services are required, getting certified is the first step of the journey.
From there, you’ll need to plan your business, choose a name and consider all the legal requirements you need to meet. This will make the process easier and prepare you to deal with problems that may arise in the early phases.
While the above may appear simple on the surface, the process can often be more intricate than it looks, so we’ll go into more detail below.
If you’re not a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), you’ll need to prove to potential clients that you have what it takes to do the job. Obtaining a qualification is a great way to demonstrate your professional capacity.
You can do this in a variety of ways, one of which is through a university. There are many courses that offer AIPB (American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers) or NACBP certifications (National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers), all at varying costs. While membership of these bodies isn’t technically required, it does come with benefits like continuing professional development, and being recognised in a competitive industry.
Make A Plan
When it comes to the success of any business, it’s all in the planning. Think about factors like start-up costs, how much work you’re likely to get in the beginning stages and how long it will realistically take before you see a return on your investment. You’ll also want to think about any bumps that may occur along the road, and how to solve and avert potential pitfalls.
To do this, thoroughly research the job, what you’ll need to get there and your client-base to get an idea of what you’ll need to do. Not only will this help keep you on track, it will also show clients that you have things under control. If you need a loan in order to get certified, a business plan to show lenders will also come in handy. Ideally, your plan should be used to do the following:
- Communicate The Plans with Stakeholders, Partners, and Customers
- Measure Progress
- Demonstrate The Viability of The Business Model
- Secure Funding
If you haven’t done it before, you can always seek advice on how to write the perfect business plan. We’ve created a guide to help you on your way, including a breakdown of everything you’ll need to prepare for the world of bookkeeping.
Choose A Name
So you’ve created your plan, chosen your certification and raised your funds. The next step is to decide on a name for your company. Even if you think you’ve found the perfect one, remember to make sure it hasn’t already been taken. It is always worth doing your research on this, and having a few backup ideas just in case.
If your chosen name is available, check it for the following things: is it easy to remember, spell and pronounce? Does it look good as a logo? These may appear to be minor details, but they are readily overlooked, and changing the name after you’ve completed the paperwork may be challenging.
Using a Name Generator
If naming things isn’t your forte, you can always use our name generator to come up with a unique name for your business. The generator employs a similarity score to apply the most relevant industries and filters to help you find appropriate names based on the keywords you provide. You may also add and remove filters.
There are no random word combinations with this generator; this one actually analyzes the content you provide to create sensible suggestions. You’ll be able to tweak your name according to length, tone and appeal in order to find the perfect fit. It’s a great solution for business owners, because it allows them to create unique name concepts based on their own branding and the requirements of their industry.
Set A Place
Location is key for any business – after all, you want to be near enough to your clients while still finding somewhere that works for you. Not only do you need to be visible to your customers, you’ll also want to keep a head and shoulders above the competition while still remaining within your budget and adhering to the local and state regulations and laws.
If this sounds like a lot to remember, there’s no need to worry as there are ways of making it easier. You should simply consider the following:
- What is the location of your target market?
- What kind of image or brand do you want to project?
- How do you fit in with or differentiate yourself from your competitors?
- What kind of neighborhood do you want to establish yourself in? Is it critical to be safe?
- Will it be easy to find employees?
- Is your neighborhood business-friendly?
Before deciding on a location, consider all the points above. Does it meet all these criteria? If so, you’ve found the ideal place to set up your business.
But should you buy or rent? If you’re fortunate enough to have the capital to spend on purchasing a place, you’ll need to have a very solid business plan. If you’re a sole proprietor and simply in need of office space, your choice will be simple. However, if you plan on expanding your company, renting a space may be a wiser option. If you have the funds to go bigger, you can always rent out the extra space to other businesses until you’re ready to expand. This will help pay the bills in the meantime.
Bookkeepers rejoice: while this can be a tricky step for many small businesses, here is where your training will come into its own. Nevertheless, we’ll briefly guide you through the process. For a start, it’s a good idea to separate your personal and company finances by creating a separate bank account. You might even have a business credit card for your expenses.
Additionally, consider your start-up expenditures. List everything that could become an expense, and start saving in order to cover the costs when they arise.
There are many ways to get funds to start your business. This includes:
- Friends and family
- Bank loan
- Personal savings
These days, having an online presence is crucial, so once you have your location sorted, you’ll need to create a website. The prospect may appear daunting, but never fear – tech companies have taken the needs of the average business owner into account and simplified the process. You can now create a functional and attractive website with minimal technical knowledge.
Sites such as Wix and Squarespace are great examples of this. There are simple drag-and-drop tools that will enable you to manage and beautify your website easily. There’s no need to be concerned about codes or complicated numbers.
From here, you’ll need to purchase a domain name and hosting service, which you can do with a feature like BlueHost. We recommend BlueHost for website hosting because they have an easy one-click WordPress installation tool and offer 60% off hosting and a free domain name.
Naturally, your basic information and contact details are the most crucial part of your site, but it’s also a good idea to create a blog. This will give the site a sense of individuality, as well as attracting organic visitors to help grow your business.
Create A Marketing Plan
So you’ve planned, budgeted, qualified and set up your website: now you need to get your name out. This is where marketing comes in. This step is vital if you want to attract potential customers and convince them to use your service. A good marketing system will require a little investment, but this will pay off in the long run.
For sole proprietors, TV adverts may be out of budget, but ads on websites, social media and print publications are a very realistic approach. If you’re looking to keep it local, good old-fashioned pamphlets and flyers can also do the trick. After all, the more of your target market you attract, the more customers you’re likely to have.
Gone are the days when social media was just a form of entertainment. Today, it’s a powerhouse for advertising, helping businesses communicate, gather and write reviews.
You won’t need a constant online presence as a bookkeeper, but it’s worth writing enough posts to keep yourself relevant. It’s also a fantastic area to discuss bookkeeping tips, special deals, and other related information.
Depending on the ages of your clients, some may be more tech-savvy than others. For your non-social media using customers, print marketing is an excellent way to get the word out.
Brochures, flyers and door-to-door pamphlets are an easy and cost-effective way to market your business, so you may want to invest a little time creating and distributing these in the initial stages.
A popular alternative to social media, digital marketing works by placing adverts on pages like Google or AdSense to find new customers. These platforms connect your advert to related sites that potential clients might be browsing.
Finally, never underestimate the importance of video. If you’re confident in front of the camera, video adverts can really help your company stand out. YouTube, online TV streaming, podcasts or even radio are a great way to get the word out. They’re usually cost-effective as well.
Set Goals and KPIs
Remember to keep your goals in mind throughout the process of setting up your business. These objectives are frequently linked to key performance indicators (KPIs), which allow you to monitor your company’s growth.
Some good indicators for a bookkeeping business are the number of clients, profits, individuals visiting your website or following your business on social media, and so on. These will help you set goals and alter them if needed.
Adopt an Entrepreneurial Mindset
Starting any business is a risk, and comes with its own challenges. No matter how well you’ve planned there are bound to be at least some unforeseen circumstances that crop up along the way.
If your business is to succeed, you’ll need to be flexible and keep a level head. After all, challenges are normal, and coming up with creative solutions will help you iron out the creases and become a better entrepreneur.
Keeping abreast of the current rules and regulations is essential if your business is to stay on the right side of the law. Although the legalities have been part of your initial plan, regular checks will help you stay up to date.
What these are will largely depend on what type of company you’ve started, whether it be a sole proprietorship, LLC (Limited Liability Company) or something else. This will impact how you handle your company’s taxes and help you keep on top of how much you need to pay, how to pay and when. This can also vary with your location, so make sure you know the regulations in your area.
Accounting & Bookkeeping
Again, this is where you’re likely to come into your own as a bookkeeper. But what you may not know is that there are software programs specifically designed to help make life easier. Programs like Xero and Quickbooks are great for tracking profit, spending, and other financial activities.
Like general legal requirements, the regulations for hiring staff may also differ depending on your location. However, whether it’s part of the hiring process, breaks, lunches, parental or sick leave, or retirement, there are certain rules that every business has to follow.
Hiring a freelancer is different again, and will be subject to different requirements than hiring in house staff. The process is usually simpler, but there are still additional factors you need to take into account. If in doubt, seek the help of a qualified professional to ensure you adhere to the rules.
Although risky, time-consuming and often demanding, the rewards of starting your own business often outweigh the challenges. Once you begin to see the rewards of your work, the benefits will be all your own. More than in any other type of work, the more you put in, the more you get out.
Having a great plan, establishing a firm foundation and setting financial limits will all help the process go more smoothly. You’ll have your first client and be meeting your business bookkeeping goals in no time.
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