Escape the Corporate World: How to Start a Bookkeeping Business

bookkeeping bookkeeping business Nov 14, 2023
Start a Bookkeeping Business

I had my “dream job”, but I was miserable. 

I thought I hit the jackpot right out of college when I landed a job as an auditor at a prestigious accounting firm. It seemed like everything I had worked for - I passed the CPA exam, got the fancy title, the nice salary, the coveted position. 

But five years into it, I decided I wasn’t meant to be an employee.

I was working 60-80 hour weeks and missing out on important milestones in my kid’s lives, date nights with my husband, and quality time with friends and family.

I drove to work before the sun rose and drove home after the sunset. I spent evenings trying to come up with something other than mac ‘n cheese for dinner, attempting to help the kids with their math assignments (fyi, they don’t do math like we did math when I was a kid), getting them bathed and to bed…

… just to do it all over again the next day.  It was like a hamster wheel I couldn’t get off. 

Then one day, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror in the restroom at work. With tears in my eyes I asked myself  "Is this really the life I want to live and do I really want to do this J-O-B… FOREVER?" (sigh)

The thought of giving up the security of a steady paycheck was really really scary to me, but the thought of staying on the hamster wheel in a soul-sucking job was not just scary…it was absolutely terrifying. 

So, the answer was a hard "no" had to be. 

That’s when I realized that I wasn't cut out to be an employee. I wanted more. I wanted flexibility, freedom, and to call my own shots. I was ready to be a business owner and take control of my own destiny. 

So, I quit my job to start my own bookkeeping business. 

The decision was both liberating and invigorating at the same time. I was in control now and my vision was clear…

…I would land my first few clients right out of the gate to replace the income from my job. Then, I’d quickly grow my business to 6-figures…or maybe even 7-figures.  After all, the sky was the limit and I had nothing holding me back. 

However, I quickly realized the path wouldn’t be quite as simple. 

Here’s what I wish I knew back then…

How to Start a Bookkeeping Business (From Someone Who’s Already Done It) 

It’s common to feel trapped in a corporate job and daydream about starting your own business. In fact, more than 50% of new businesses were started because their owner was tired of corporate America and was searching for a way out. 

If you find yourself in the same boat, know that starting your own bookkeeping business is more than possible. Bookkeeping will always be in demand and with a solid plan, you can build a business that turns your daydreams into a reality. 

Let’s break down the basics of how to go from dream to reality for new bookkeeping entrepreneurs.

Benefits of Leaving the Corporate World to Start a Bookkeeping Business

While traditional jobs can come with advantages, there are also major benefits to stepping out on your own. 

  • Independence and flexibility
    • Rather than working on someone else's schedule, by someone else's rules, bookkeeping business owners are free to set their own hours and determine company policies. Plus, there's no need to worry about whether the "boss" will approve that vacation time or get irritated over a sick day. 
  • More interesting work
    • Business owners can also select their own clients and choose to specialize in a niche that interests them without the fear of burnout. 
  • Financial possibilities
    • The work you put into your business will directly reflect what you get out of it. There is no limit to what you can make, but hard work will be required regardless. 
  • Personal fulfillment
    • Starting a business is a significant accomplishment that allows people to take charge and direct the course of their careers rather than tying it to others.

These benefits are great motivation, but remember it takes hard work to get a bookkeeping business off the ground and there are pros and cons to both sticking with a traditional job and starting your own bookkeeping business. You have the ability to weigh those options and should you choose the latter, the rest of this article will be a valuable tool. 

How to Start a Bookkeeping Business 

The following steps follow Bookkeepers Ignite’s outline for starting a bookkeeping business. Remember, this is a brief overview, so if you have questions and would like more guidance as you build your business, reach out to me, Nicole Ossenfort, to learn more! 

Step 1: Create a Business Plan

Your business plan is your roadmap for turning your daydream into a reality. 

Start it by mapping out your company's mission and short- and long-term goals. Then lay out the proposed business in detail, including the structure and price of services or packages and the financial path to profitability. 

Your business plan also needs to provide a detailed analysis of the market, along with a profile of potential customers and a plan for how to reach them via marketing or other methods. 

Finally, calculate what you'll require in startup costs and how much you may need in capital before the business can stand on its own.

Step 2: Check the Legal Boxes

Now it’s time to check the legal boxes. Determine what type of entity you'll operate as (such as a sole proprietor, LLC, or S-/C-corporation), and file the necessary legal paperwork. 

In some areas, you may need a DBA (short for "doing business as") if you plan to operate under a name different than your legal one. If an EIN (employer identification number) is needed reach out to the IRS, and complete any state or local tax registration as well. 

Finally, look into whether you're required to get any permits or licenses by local or state governments, secure any needed or desired insurance, and open a business bank account. 

With that, your bookkeeping company officially exists!

Step 3: Build Your Workspace

Every professional bookkeeping operation should have some sort of workplace that makes them feel comfortable and productive at work. Whether it’s a modest, clean, well-equipped office or coworking space where you can meet clients in person, or a spot at the kitchen table to conduct virtual calls, it’s up to you!

Building your workspace also includes taking some time to evaluate the various bookkeeping software packages available and selecting the best one for your needs.

Step 4: Craft a Brand and Marketing Strategy

Now, it's time to determine the best way to present yourself to your future clients. From your website information to ad copy, it should reflect not only your professionalism and experience but also the unique aspects of your business. This can include your specialized experience or a dash of humanity and personality. 

It's important that your brand be consistent across all channels, so take the time to carefully consider the image you'd like to project.

Step 5: Start Finding Clients

Once you've taken care of all the critical prep work, there's nothing left to do other than find clients and get to work! 

Lead generation is vital, whether you're relying on referrals or cold calls, or undertaking an active advertising campaign. Think about how you can create value to attract potential clients, including free promotional workshops or helpful informational materials.

Once you've found good clients, keep them happy with active communication and diligent work. Testimonials from satisfied current customers can go a long way toward landing new clients.

Step 6: Scale Your Bookkeeping Business

This is where your hard work pays off. As you scale your business, hiring staff may be on your to-do list. When done carefully, this expansion leads to everyone taking home bigger profits. From there, it’s up to you to decide how to use the fruits of your labor. 

Get the Help You Need to Start a Bookkeeping Business

If you're ready to launch and scale a new bookkeeping business, one of your first calls should be to Bookkeepers Ignite. 

Under the leadership of renowned expert Nicole Ossenfort, Bookkeepers Ignite offers group coaching, educational opportunities, a variety of tools helpful to new business owners, and access to a support group of those just like you, confronting and overcoming similar challenges  starting their bookkeeping company and looking for a way to accelerate their growth and profitability.  Visit our website to learn more and start your journey towards escaping the corporate world.

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