According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks, who produce financial records and check them for accuracy, is $41,230 per year or $19.82 per hour. Although no college degree is required, a bookkeeper must have math and computer skills, including experience with spreadsheets and bookkeeping software.
With an increasing number of businesses going virtual, offering your service as a remote bookkeeper could become a lucrative home business if you have the talent and know-how.
But before you start contacting potential clients, having the right setup and experience is imperative. Considering any skills, licenses, equipment, software and other important factors could help you build a business that provides a sizable income and the freedom of being your own boss.
Skills To Master
If you are a first-rate number cruncher, that’s an excellent place to begin. But you should also have a strong grasp on bookkeeping fundamentals, such as double-entry accounting, account reconciliations and generating financial reports.
Along with accounting abilities, several other skills will determine whether you are a decent bookkeeper or an outstanding one. For instance, you should have excellent organizational skills and strong attention to detail. You will need good communication skills to trade information with clients effectively. You should be a tech-savvy problem solver who knows how to manage their time. Also, being a transparent person of integrity will go far in this line of work.
Licenses And Certifications
As mentioned, you don’t have to have a degree to become a bookkeeper. However, an official certification can provide more clout and give clients more confidence in your abilities. Both the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) and the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB) offer professionally-recognized accreditation programs.
Depending on where you live, you might also need a business license. The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a guide to help you register, file and start your business legally. Also, make sure you understand the tax implications of the business format you choose.
Setting Up Your Office
Along with a comfortable, well-appointed workspace where you can perform your job productively, you will need a reliable computer with sufficient memory and a way to back up information, such as cloud-based storage or a removable hard drive. You will also need professional accounting software, such as Quickbooks.
A locking file cabinet where you store client documents is advisable, and it is good practice to have a business phone number and email address where clients can reach you.
Gaining A Client Base
Before reaching out to potential clients, establish an hourly rate and determine how much work you can handle. You might want to enlist the aid of a lawyer to create a basic contract to use with your clients.
Consider carving out a niche in a market with which you are familiar. Your knowledge of real estate, non-profit organizations, retail, or any other topic can help you reach and relate to clients in that area.
Create a website or, at the very least, a social network presence for your company. Then you can start to spread the word with emails, direct messages and phone calls. Make sure to take advantage of networking opportunities. Before long, you could have your business running like a well-oiled machine.
Sites like bookkeepers.com can help provide resources for every part of your work journey, too. Are you ready to embark on a new career?