Bookkeeping Business Plan Template
Written by Dave Lavinsky
Bookkeeping Business Plan
Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 9,000 entrepreneurs create business plans to start and grow their bookkeeping companies. On this page, we will first give you some background information with regards to the importance of business planning. We will then go through a bookkeeping business plan step-by-step so you can create your plan today.
Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here
What Is a Business Plan?
A business plan provides a snapshot of your business as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business goals and your strategy for reaching them. It also includes market research to support your plans.
Why You Need a Business Plan
If you’re looking to start your own bookkeeping business or grow an established business, you need a business plan. A business plan will help you raise funding, if needed, and plan out the growth of your bookkeeping business in order to improve your chances of success. Your business plan is a living document that should be updated annually as your company grows and changes.
Sources of Funding for Bookkeeping Startups
With regards to funding, the main sources of funding for a bookkeeping business are personal savings, credit cards, bank loans, and angel investors. With regards to bank loans, banks will want to review your business plan and gain confidence that you will be able to repay your loan and interest. To acquire this confidence, the loan officer will not only want to confirm that your financials are reasonable. But they will want to see a professional plan. Such a plan will give them the confidence that you can successfully and professionally operate a business.
The second most common form of funding for a bookkeeping company is angel investors. Angel investors are wealthy individuals who will write you a check. They will either take equity in return for their funding or, like a bank, they will give you a loan.
How to Write a Business Plan for a Bookkeeping Company
Your business plan should include 10 sections as follows:
Your executive summary provides an introduction to your business plan, but it is normally the last section you write because it provides a summary of each key section of your plan.
The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of business you are operating and the status; for example, are you a startup, do you have a bookkeeping business that you would like to grow, or are you operating a chain of bookkeeping companies.
Next, provide an overview of each of the subsequent sections of your plan. For example, give a brief overview of the bookkeeping business industry. Discuss the type of business you are operating. Detail your direct competitors. Give an overview of your target market. Provide a snapshot of your marketing strategy. Identify the key members of your team. And offer an overview of your financial plan.
In your company analysis, you will detail the type of bookkeeping business you are operating.
For example, you might operate one of the following types:
- Traditional Bookkeeping and Accounting Business : the traditional bookkeeping and accounting business can provide the entire range of bookkeeping services, including maintaining journals and ledgers, balancing and reconciling accounts, preparing payroll, preparing and filing taxes, and providing billing and collection services.
- Tax Preparation Services : this type of bookkeeping business primarily prepares, reviews, and/or files tax returns and supplementary documents.
- Payroll Services : this type of bookkeeping business typically collects payroll information, processes paychecks, processes withholdings, and files reports.
- Billing Services : this type of bookkeeping business deals with sending bills and collecting payments.
In addition to explaining the type of business you operate, the Company Analysis section of your business plan needs to provide background on the business.
Include answers to question such as:
- When and why did you start the business?
- What milestones have you achieved to date? Milestones could include sales goals you’ve reached, new store openings, etc.
- Your legal structure. Are you incorporated as an S-Corp? An LLC? A sole proprietorship? Explain your legal structure here.
In your industry analysis, you need to provide an overview of the bookkeeping business.
While this may seem unnecessary, it serves multiple purposes.
First, researching the bookkeeping industry educates you. It helps you understand the market in which you are operating.
Secondly, market research can improve your strategy particularly if your research identifies market trends. For example, it would be helpful to ensure your plan takes into account the seasonal nature of certain services such as tax preparation.
The third reason for market research is to prove to readers that you are an expert in your industry. By conducting the research and presenting it in your plan, you achieve just that.
The following questions should be answered in the industry analysis section:
- How big is the bookkeeping industry (in dollars)?
- Is the market declining or increasing?
- Who are the key competitors in the market?
- Who are the key suppliers in the market?
- What trends are affecting the industry?
- What is the industry’s growth forecast over the next 5 – 10 years?
- What is the relevant market size? That is, how big is the potential market for your bookkeeping business. You can extrapolate such a figure by assessing the size of the market in the entire country and then applying that figure to your local population.
The customer analysis section must detail the customers you serve and/or expect to serve.
The following are examples of customer segments : families, entrepreneurs, businesses, retirees, etc.
As you can imagine, the customer segment(s) you choose will have a great impact on the type of bookkeeping business you operate. Clearly, families would want different pricing and product options and would respond to different marketing promotions than established businesses.
Try to break out your target market in terms of their demographic and psychographic profiles. With regards to demographics, including a discussion of the ages, genders, locations, and income levels of the customers you seek to serve. Because most bookkeeping companies primarily serve customers living in the same city or town, such demographic information is easy to find on government websites.
Psychographic profiles explain the wants and needs of your target customers. The more you can understand and define these needs, the better you will do in attracting and retaining your business clients.
Your competitive analysis should identify the indirect and direct competitors your business faces and then focus on the latter.
Direct competitors are other bookkeeping services and companies.
Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from that aren’t direct competitors. This includes accountants, companies’ internal accounting departments, professional employer organizations, and entrepreneurs/individuals doing their own bookkeeping. You need to mention such competition to show you understand that not everyone engages in bookkeeping services.
With regards to direct competition, you want to detail the other bookkeeping companies with which you compete. Most likely, your direct competitors will be bookkeeping companies located very close to your location.
For each such competitor, provide an overview of their businesses and document their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you once worked at your competitors’ businesses, it will be impossible to know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key things about them such as:
- What types of customers do they serve?
- What services do they offer?
- What is their pricing (premium, low, etc.)?
- What are they good at?
- What are their weaknesses?
With regards to the last two questions, think about your answers from the customers’ perspective. And don’t be afraid to ask your competitors’ customers what they like most and least about them.
The final part of your competitive analysis section is to document your areas of competitive advantage. For example:
- Will you provide superior bookkeeping services?
- Will you provide bookkeeping services that your competitors don’t offer?
- Will you make it easier or faster for customers to acquire your services?
- Will you provide better customer service?
- Will you offer better pricing?
Think about ways you will outperform your competition and document them in this section of your plan.
Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For a bookkeeping business plan, you should include the following:
Product : in the product section, you should reiterate the type of business that you documented in your Company Analysis. Then, detail the specific products you will be offering. For example, in addition to account reconciliation, will you offer services such as tax preparation?
Price : Document the prices you will offer and how they compare to your competitors. Essentially in the product and price sub-sections, you are presenting the services you offer and their prices.
Place : Place refers to the location of your business. Document your location and mention how the location will impact your success. Discuss how your location might provide a steady stream of customers.
Promotions : the final part is the promotions section. Here you will document how you will drive customers to your location(s). The following are some promotional methods you might consider:
- Email marketing to prospective clients
- Advertising in local papers and magazines
- Reaching out to local bloggers and websites
- Social media advertising
- Pay per click advertising
- Local radio advertising
- Banner ads at local venues
While the earlier sections of your business plan explained your goals, your operations plan describes how you will meet them. Your operations plan should have two distinct sections as follows.
Everyday short-term processes include all of the tasks involved in running your bookkeeping business such as serving customers, procuring supplies, keeping the office clean, etc.
Long-term goals are the milestones you hope to achieve. These could include the dates when you expect to serve your 1,000th customer, or when you hope to reach $X in sales. It could also be when you expect to hire your Xth employee or launch a new location.
To demonstrate your bookkeeping business’s ability to succeed as a business, a strong management team is essential. Highlight your key players’ backgrounds, emphasizing those skills and experiences that prove their ability to grow a company.
Ideally, you and/or your team members have direct experience in the bookkeeping or accounting business. If so, highlight this experience and expertise. But also highlight any experience that you think will help your business succeed.
If your team is lacking, consider assembling an advisory board. An advisory board would include 2 to 8 individuals who would act as mentors to your business. They would help answer questions and provide strategic guidance. If needed, look for advisory board members with experience in bookkeeping businesses and/or successfully running small businesses.
Your financial plan should include your 5-year financial statement broken out both monthly or quarterly for the first year and then annually. Your financial statements include your income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statements.
An income statement is more commonly called a Profit and Loss statement or P&L. It shows your revenues and then subtracts your costs to show whether you turned a profit or not.
In developing your income statement, you need to devise assumptions. For example, will you serve 10 customers per week or 20? And will sales grow by 2% or 10% per year? As you can imagine, your choice of assumptions will greatly impact the financial forecasts for your business. As much as possible, conduct research to try to root your assumptions in reality.
While balance sheets include much information, to simplify them to the key items you need to know about, balance sheets show your assets and liabilities. For instance, if you spend $100,000 on building out your bookkeeping business, that will not give you immediate profits. Rather it is an asset that will hopefully help you generate profits for years to come. Likewise, if a bank writes you a check for $100.000, you don’t need to pay it back immediately. Rather, that is a liability you will pay back over time.
Attach your full financial projections in the appendix of your plan along with any supporting documents that make your plan more compelling. For example, you might include your office design blueprint or location lease.
Bookkeeping Business Plan Summary
Putting together a business plan for your bookkeeping business is a worthwhile endeavor. If you follow the template above, by the time you are done, you will have an expert bookkeeping business plan; download it to PDF to show banks and investors. You will really understand the bookkeeping business, your competition, and your customers. You will have developed a marketing plan and will really understand what it takes to launch and grow a successful bookkeeping business.
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Bookkeeping Business Plan FAQs
What is the easiest way to complete my bookkeeping business plan.
Growthink's Ultimate Business Plan Template allows you to quickly and easily complete your Bookkeeping Business Plan.
What is the Goal of a Business Plan's Executive Summary?
The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of bookkeeping business you are operating and the status; for example, are you a startup, do you have a bookkeeping business that you would like to grow, or are you operating a chain of bookkeeping businesses.
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Bookkeeping Business Plan Sample
Do you want to start accounting and bookkeeping business plan?
A bookkeeping business requires you to manage your expenses and income, prepare tax returns for clients and process payrolls. You should learn how to approach clients and create a bookkeeping business plan template to get your business up and running. One thing you should not overlook is looking for an ideal banking partner. You should write a business plan before starting your business.
When a business plan is needed to acquire funding, the value it provides is all about the overall process. You need considering every aspect, like services and products, you are going to sell, the way you will market your offerings, and your competition. Here are some of the major items you should include in your business plan –
When writing a bookkeeping services business plan template, the executive summary is a very important part. You need writing the overall review of your company business. You need describing your services to your clients. It will need investment in staff and marketing for the overall growth of your business to include the complementary range of your business. This segment of the business plan helps you in starting your own bookkeeping business . You need to do an in-depth and detailed analysis of your business strengths and weaknesses and ensure it has great odds of success.
- What services do you offer?
This way, your company can definitely provide bookkeeping services to your clients along with management accounting, tax accounting, as well as QuickBooks installation and services. You can also further expand to offer bookkeeping services for small businesses. You may want to offer quality and reliable services like Accounts Payable/Receivable, General Ledger, Billing & Collections, Payroll Management, Tax Preparation and Filling State, Federal and Local Forms.
- Who buys your product?
As a licensed and standard bookkeeping firm, you can offer a huge range of consulting solutions to a huge range of clients’ base. Your target market may be ranging from different industries and sizes. This way, you may want to target NGOs, Mom and Pop stores, Blue Chip companies, Hotels and Restaurants, Religious Organizations, Sports Organizations, Schools and others.
- How he implement business management?
Proper planning needs well-trained staff and efficient management team enough to run your business. You need describing the efficiency of your business partners and staff.
- What target of this business?
Here, you need describing your measurable goals. You should have a well-defined target and measurable elements to ensure the success of your business.
Financial services are quite a large industry and bookkeeping is one of the active segments of the businesses, which includes recording financial transactions in business. It is a kind of financial accounting process. The payroll and bookkeeping services industry has plenty of small business operators which serve many clients from start-ups to well-established ones.
Bookkeeping industry is a mature stage of growth. If you are wondering how to start a bookkeeping service business plan , it is very helpful to know how to outsource your human resource functions like payroll etc. to focus your attention on core business operations. The bookkeeping is a large and active industry especially in developed countries like USA, Canada, UK, France, Italy, Japan, China, etc. There are around 285,212 licensed and registered bookkeeping companies in the US alone.
- Who is owner of this company?
You need telling the ownership of your company, like a sole proprietorship, partnership, etc.
- Why you have started Bookkeeping business plan?
Bookkeepers usually keep transactions like sales, purchases, payments, and receipts by the organization or person. Your purpose to start this business may be related to one of these things.
- How you have to start the Bookkeeping business plan?
For doing this, you can partner with smaller companies also engaged in financial services, such as auditing firms, tax consulting firms, and others.
Here is the data in table containing the costs-
Services for customers
When creating an accounting business plan template , you need to describe what services you have on offer. Establishing the clientele of the accounting business takes time. It takes words of mouth, referrals, and recommendations for new clients to select your services. You may look at the advertisements or Yellow Pages to figure out the services your business can offer. Then you can add further information and pricing.
You should be prepared well to make profits from your industry. As a general overview of how to start a business plan template for home bookkeeping , you may offer the following services.
- Tax services like Tax Planning, Tax Preparation, addressing tax issues (IRS issues, payroll problems, bankruptcy, audit representation etc.)
- Cost Accountant/Management services like Cost and Margin analysis, Audits, Credit Card Processing setup, and Financial Projection
- QuickBooks training, QuickBooks setup, etc.
Along with these, your accountants may add these bookkeeping solutions –
- Sales tax processing
- Payroll processing
- Accounts receivable (invoicing, entry, collection, deposits etc.)
- Accounts payable (bill payments, entry)
- Bank Reconciliations
- Financial statement preparation
- Inventory Management
To add further value to your offerings, your accountant or bookkeeping manager may audit and supervise the work of bookkeepers, answer their queries, and provide quality service. They will also review QuickBooks reports and files to ensure they follow the formats properly and are prepared well.
Marketing Analysis of Accounting and Bookkeeping Business Plan
The market for small accounting business consists of almost every small business in the US. As businesses grow larger than a sole proprietorship, they usually need an expert solution with tax preparation and additional bookkeeping and accounting solutions. Even most of the non-employer proprietorships need accounting services at least once. When most small businesses have CEOs or bookkeepers for full time, some even outsource these services. When making home based bookkeeping business plan template, you need to consider the following questions –
- Who is the targeted audience of accounting and bookkeeping business?
Promotion activities in your business also vary according to your target market. When it comes to choosing an accountant, there is a great importance of referrals and words of mouth among all market segments. There are certain efforts you need to take to stimulate business when starting your own bookkeeping business plan home . You need creating a cost-effective business campaign, based on publicity, direct marketing, advertising, and customer reward program.
- What business target should company achieve?
Your business target clarifies what you want to achieve in your specific goals. You need to have a well-defined target with measurable elements to make an effective goal. There are different types of goals, and your plan should have a variety of goals. There are two different categories of goals for many businesses – marketing and financial targets. You need to tailor your objectives to cover the overall bookkeeping business.
- How much will be the average price of the product?
Here, you need to describe how much you are going to charge for your services. You should consider fee structure for your business clients according to their unique needs. On average, you may charge $55 on an hourly basis for businesses for accounting services. There is a base fee range of $50 to $125 for personal/housing tax preparation. There are also charges for filing in the schedules and forms involved. The personal consulting is also priced at an hourly rate of $25.
Referrals are the effective and most important parts of your business. Therefore, you need to be more aggressive in attracting new clients in the first few years, which will pass on the words and your business, can start experiencing natural growth. Useful and constructive planning needs a broad and detailed understanding of changes, which take place in the market where your company has competition, or want to compete.
You also have to consider the ever-changing and thriving financial markets when starting your own bookkeeping business home . You need considering detailed technical skills in different disciplines like financial analysis, tax, sales, managing growth, and marketing, which are the important components to assess the risks and opportunities in a company.
- Who are your competitors?
When writing a business plan tamplate for bookkeeping business , you need to explain how you are going to stand out in competition. You may want to have detailed technical skills in different disciplines like financial analysis, tax, sales, managing growth, and marketing. These are the important components to assess the risks and opportunities for the company. Your management should develop disciplined planning and methodology to anticipate your economic needs and other important information.
- What is your sales strategy?
It is a strategy for business plan to sell your services to your existing clients, especially before your marketing efforts pay off with upcoming inquiries. You need to inform about the services to all the clients by phone. You may approach the clients through regular sales calls.
- What about your sales forecast?
When writing a business plan template for a bookkeeping business , describe the average cost of a project like tax services ($750), QuickBooks services ($300), and cost accounting ($1000). Bookkeeping services are charged on an hourly basis, i.e. $30 per hour.
When creating a business plan for accounting services , you might want to have a bookkeeping manager who will keep track of the work of bookkeepers. He will be in MS or MBA accounting program with years of bookkeeping and professional work experience, especially at the beginning of their graduate school program so they can work through two years of the program and be considered for a move to a full-time position in the third year.
The manager will also move from part-time to a full-time position in a few years to come. In the personnel plan, you need to explain about the staff you are going to hire and the team you have already.
- What staff would be needed for accounting and bookkeeping company?
In this part of the bookkeeping business plan template, explain what staff you would need for your company. You have to explain the key business members of your business. You need to explain whether you would hire full time or part-time staff. Will you need additional support staff to further expand your business? You need to explain key members of your business.
- What will be the average salary of your staff?
You will also have to explain the salary of your staff on average, along with office and other expenses during the first year. You can describe this part in detailed form.
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This section of your bookkeeping company business plan consists of growth with positive cash flows with operations. It is unimportant to add owner investment or outside investment for business plan . The new line of business is not capital based and it will improve the fixed costs of business. Additional revenues from sales should cover it quickly. At least five clients use service without any problem, as they are all set to use bookkeeper or outsource their bookkeeping. Here are some of the assumptions of financial plan –
You need to describe your assumptions on the growth of your business over the next 2 to 3 years. You need to explain the working hours of your bookkeepers before reaching the capacity.
It should be based on fixed costs behind running the business with old lines of your business. It is a significant rise from the breakeven point. You can describe your payroll, capacity, marketing activity, expenses of new bookkeeper, insurance, cost of sales etc.
Projected Profit and Loss
Here, you need to explain the proposed income and expenses of your business as well as the overall profit and loss. Also, explain how you are going to balance them.
Projected Cash Flow
You will need to explain the overall cost requirement in the first year and how you will balance out and get back to the positive cash flow in the next few years to come.
Projected Balance Sheet
If your new business succeeds as you expect, the net worth can improve in your business. Explain the debt of the business as well as external financing.
You will need to explain the overall ratio of your assets with net worth. Explain how gross margins can be higher than averages.
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Free Accounting and Bookkeeping Sample Business Plan PDF
Looking for a free, downloadable accounting and bookkeeping sample business plan PDF to help you create a business plan of your own? Bplans has you covered.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to find a sample business plan that exactly matches your business. Whether you’re launching a larger accounting business in a bustling city or a smaller neighborhood office, the details will be different, but the bones of the plan will be the same.
Are you writing a business plan for your accounting firm because you’re seeking a loan? Is your primary concern building a clear roadmap for growth? Either way, you’re going to want to edit and customize it so it fits your particular company.
No two accounting businesses are alike. Your strategy will be different if you’re partnering with other CPAs, rather than working independently, for example. So take the time to create your own financial forecasts and do enough market research so you have a solid plan for success.
What should you include in an accounting and bookkeeping business plan?
Your accounting business plan doesn’t need to be hundreds of pages—keep it as short and concise as you can. You’ll probably want to include each of these sections: executive summary, company summary and funding needs, products and services, marketing plan, management team, financial plan, and appendix.
One of the things that makes an accounting business plan different than some other service-based business plans is that you might decide to only work with businesses and not with individuals.
You may offer different tiers of service to different types of clients. If that’s the case, make sure you include ideas like up-selling small businesses from hourly consultation to quarter contracts.
Download this accounting and bookkeeping sample business plan PDF for free right now, or visit Bplans’ gallery of more than 550 sample business plans if you’re looking for more options.
There are plenty of reasons accounting business owners can benefit from writing a business plan —you’ll need one if you’re seeking a loan or investment. Even if you’re not seeking funding, the process of thinking through every aspect of your business will help you make sure you’re not overlooking anything critical as you grow.
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Accounting & Bookkeeping Business Plan
Start your own accounting & bookkeeping business plan
The Sorcerer's Accountant
Executive summary executive summary is a brief introduction to your business plan. it describes your business, the problem that it solves, your target market, and financial highlights.">.
The Sorcerer’s Accountant is a small, successful, one-person accounting and tax preparation service owned and run by Max Greenwood, CPA in Chicago, Illinois. The firm offers tax accounting, management accounting, and QuickBooks set-up and training for small business clients. To move beyond a one person model, the business will expand its services to include bookkeeping services for small businesses. This will require an investment in marketing and staff to grow the business to include this complementary line of business. This business plan organizes the strategy and tactics for the business expansion and set objectives for growth over the next three years.
The business will offer clients bookkeeping services with the oversight of a CPA at a price they can afford. To do this involves hiring undergraduate student bookkeepers and a graduate student manager, keeping fixed costs as low as possible, and continuing to define the expertise of Sorcerer’s Accountant through its website resources. The effect will be sales more than doubling over three years as 8 part-time bookkeepers are deployed to client businesses as needed, and salary and dividends to Greenwood increase substantially.
The Sorcerer’s Accountant seeks to launch a new line of services – small business bookkeeping – which will be offered to the same ongoing clients as Sorcerer’s Accountant currently seeks.
Sorcerer’s Accountant has set the following objectives:
- To launch the bookkeeping services slowly, beginning with two part-time bookkeepers
- To achieve bookkeeping service annual revenues equal or greater to the current total revenues within three years (effectively doubling revenue)
- To achieve net profit of $60,000 in three years
- To employ 8 part-time bookkeepers in three years
The Sorcerer’s Accountant seeks to provide a full suite of tax and management accounting services for small businesses in Chicago, Illinois, allowing business owners to not only save money over in-house accounting and ensure their compliance with tax laws, but to make valuable management decisions from their numbers.
Keys to Success
The keys to success for the accounting business include:
- Building trust with clients
- Maintaining up-to-date CPA certification and education on accounting practices and laws
- Going beyond saving clients money to proposing how they can increase their revenues
- Legal and ethical practices when it comes to transparency, reporting, and taxes
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Accounting | How To
How To Start a Bookkeeping Business in 8 Steps for 2023 + Checklist
Updated June 24, 2023
Updated Jun 24, 2023
Published March 13, 2023
Published Mar 13, 2023
REVIEWED BY: Tim Yoder, Ph.D., CPA
WRITTEN BY: Danielle Bauter
This article is part of a larger series on Accounting Software .
- 1. Create a Business Plan
- 2. Earn Your Certifications
- 3. Register & Organize Your Bookkeeping Business
- 4. Set Up Business Operations for Your Bookkeeping Business
- 5. Get the Right Accounting Software
- 6. Fund Your Bookkeeping Business
- 7. Set Up a Home Office for Your Bookkeeping Business
- 8. Market Your Bookkeeping Business
- Stay on Top of Industry Trends for Bookkeepers
Bookkeeping is a great home-based business that’s easy to start with very little cash. Whether you’re looking to make a little extra money or want to grow a business to support you and your family, our eight steps on starting your bookkeeping business—from creating a business plan and registering the business up to getting the right software and marketing—will help you achieve your goal.
Download your free checklist for starting a bookkeeping business.
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Step 1: create a business plan.
Writing a business plan is something that everyone should do before starting a business. While a business plan can be used to obtain funding for your business, the real value is the thought that goes into the process of writing a plan.
During the business plan writing process, you should think about every aspect of your business—such as what products and services you will sell, how to market those products and services, and who your competition is. You will also create a financial plan that should include a 12-month profit and loss projection, projected cash flow, and a projected balance sheet.
Here are the key items that should be included in every business plan:
- Executive summary
- Company overview
- Competitive analysis
- Marketing plan
- Startup costs
- Financial projections
Identify Your Target Market
You should first decide whether your target market will be limited to your surrounding area, or if you’ll offer online services. While it’s tempting to offer your services online to a worldwide audience, it adds a lot of complexity to your operations. You should plan on paying for help with online advertising, web design, search engine optimization (SEO), and website content management.
The next decision is whether to focus on a particular small business niche or offer services to all small businesses. It’s much easier to become an expert in accounting for a particular business niche than for all businesses in general.
The best niches to consider are those that have unique bookkeeping challenges. For example, construction companies compute their profit by project, truck drivers have special tax rules for computing travel expenses, and restaurants have a very high volume of relatively low-value inventory items to track. While choosing a niche will greatly reduce your available client base, it makes it much easier to gain expertise and distinguish yourself from your competitors.
Choose What Services You’ll Offer
You should decide what services your bookkeeping business will initially offer. You might add more later, but knowing your initial offerings are important so that you can choose the right certifications and software. Here are some of the common services offered by bookkeeping businesses:
- Basic bookkeeping: Basic bookkeeping usually includes entering banking transactions, classifying payments, and reconciling bank statements. The result is typically a basic set of financial statements at the end of each month.
- Invoicing: Some bookkeeping businesses will prepare and mail invoices to their client’s customers. Even if you don’t prepare and mail the invoices, you can collect, deposit, and track customer payments.
- Bill payment: You can provide value to your clients by tracking their unpaid bills. You can submit payments to their vendors or simply provide a list of bills that need to be paid.
- Payroll: If your bookkeeping business provides payroll services, you’ll need to not only issue payments to your client’s employees but also track and pay payroll taxes. Be sure to pick a client software package that can easily be expanded to include payroll.
- Tax returns: Only provide tax return preparation to your clients if you have tax expertise. It’s not difficult to learn how to fill out tax forms, but there’s much more to know to adequately advise your clients. If you do decide to prepare tax returns, be sure to get professional liability insurance.
Step 2: Earn Your Certifications
One of the fastest ways to gain credibility with potential clients is to prove that you have the knowledge necessary to do bookkeeping, payroll, and perhaps tax returns. If you’re a certified public accountant (CPA), you probably won’t benefit from becoming a certified bookkeeper, but you still might consider becoming certified in whatever accounting software you choose to use.
Even if you don’t have formal education in accounting or bookkeeping, you can become a certified bookkeeper before starting your own bookkeeping business. Unlike CPAs, these certifications aren’t regulated by the state, so be sure to choose a large, reputable organization so that the certification is meaningful and respected.
There are two top professional bookkeeper organizations that we recommend you certify with:
- American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB): To become AIPB-certified, you must meet the 3,000-hour work experience requirement and pass a certification exam, which costs $574 for members and $734 for non-members. Once certified, you’ll earn the right to put the letters CB (stands for Certified Bookkeeper) behind your name and display this on your resume and business cards, which will give you an edge with potential clients. This certification is ideal if you don’t have any formal education in the bookkeeping and accounting field. As an AIPB member, you’ll get access to personal help regarding bookkeeping and payroll, and membership discounts. Membership comes in three tiers: $60 for one year, $120 for two years, and $180 for three years. A longer membership plan has added benefits than a shorter membership plan.
- National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB): To earn certification through the NACPB, you must take courses in bookkeeping, payroll, QuickBooks Online, and accounting principles and pass an exam for each course. You’ll also need one year of experience before applying for the license. If you’ve had college accounting courses, you might be able to substitute them for required courses, but you’ll still need to pass each exam. Once certified, you’ll earn the credentials CPB (stands for Certified Professional Bookkeeper). You can put these letters after your name on resumes, business cards, and other materials to display your accomplishment to future clients. NACPB Annual membership is $200 for Members and $250 for Pro Members.
Accounting Software Certification
Some of the best small business accounting software offer a certification program so that bookkeepers can demonstrate they’re proficient with the solution. Most of the certifications are free and even come with free accounting software for your firm. Here are a few of the most popular accounting software and their certification programs:
- QuickBooks ProAdvisor: QuickBooks is by far the most popular small business accounting software in the United States, and you’ll very likely have clients using it. QuickBooks offers ProAdvisor certifications for both QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop. The Online certification is free, but the Desktop certification requires the purchase of QuickBooks Desktop Accountant software, which starts at $499.99 per year. You earn your certification by completing self-paced lessons and taking exams.
- FreshBooks Partner Program: FreshBooks is popular accounting software for service-based businesses requiring exceptional invoicing features. It offers a partnership program with accountants that includes FreshBooks certification and skills training. It’s free to join, and there’s no cost to use the FreshBooks software for accounting professionals. FreshBooks offers a 30% discount for accountants and bookkeepers on the first six months of their clients’ paid subscription to FreshBooks.
- Xero Partner Program: Xero, while not as popular as QuickBooks in the US, is a comparable program at a lower cost. Similar to FreshBooks, Xero offers a partnership program that includes Xero certification. There are three levels to the program: the basic, which is free; Xero Partner + Payroll for $5 per month; and Xero Partner + Tax for $29 per month.
No certification is required for a paid preparer to sign a client’s tax return, but I highly recommend not preparing returns unless you’re a tax professional or willing to put in the work to become one. Many bookkeeping firms prepare financial statements that their clients take to CPAs or other tax pros to prepare a return. You may find yourself working closely with their tax preparer, and together, you can provide outstanding service to your mutual clients.
If you’re not a CPA and want to prepare tax returns, I recommend becoming an Enrolled Agent (EA) through the IRS . EAs must initially pass an examination and then complete annual continuing education to renew their certification every three years. While no formal education or classes are required, the examinations are difficult and will prove you have the knowledge to serve tax clients properly.
Online Bookkeeping Classes
Non-accounting degree holders who would like to pursue a bookkeeping career can take bookkeeping courses online. It’s significantly shorter than a full accounting college course. We recommend choosing courses that provide a certificate so that you can include it on your resume. You can get bookkeeping courses from Accounting Coach , Coursera , or LinkedIn .
Step 3: Register & Organize Your Bookkeeping Business
This step is important because it establishes your business as legitimate and may help to limit your personal liability if your company is ever sued. Whether you’re doing this part-time or full-time, you don’t want to skip this step.
You need to do the following to establish your business at the local, state, and federal levels:
1. Select a Business Name
Naming your business can be both a fun and stressful exercise. Your name must convey your brand since that is what a potential customer will see before they sit down with you for that initial consultation. Make sure your business name says exactly what you do. This is not the time to be cute, unless you can also be clear about what it is that you do.
Here are some great tips on how to name your business:
- Aim for clarity: Your name needs to tell people what you do. If you’re focusing your bookkeeping business on a niche, include the niche in your name.
- Use a term with an established brand: For example, you could use the name of the city where you are located, such as Scranton Bookkeeping.
- Get input from others: Ask family and friends for their input. Make it fun and put it out on your social media that you are looking for suggestions on what to name your business. You could even offer a prize to the winner.
- Test it out: Try it out on potential customers to see what they think. Compare your name to competitors’ names to see if it stands out enough, but not too much.
2. Choose a Business Structure
There are four common business structures: sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation. The structure that you choose will determine your personal liability if the company is ever sued, your tax liability, and your ability to raise capital.
To assist you with this decision, I recommend that you get an introduction to the four common business structures by reading our best small business structure guide.
Most people operating a part-time bookkeeping business with no employees will operate as a sole proprietorship, which works fine. However, if your business grows to the point of hiring employees, you need to consider becoming an LLC or corporation. In addition to tax consequences, your personal liability in the event of a lawsuit can vary dramatically by business structure, so be sure to consult with an attorney.
Step 4: Set Up Business Operations for Your Bookkeeping Business
Now that you’ve organized your business, you can start setting up operations, like getting the one of the best small business insurance and leading business checking accounts . It’s important to separate your business operations from your personal finances to make your accounting easier and potentially affect your liability in the event of a lawsuit.
Set Up a Business Telephone Number
Getting a unique phone number for your business is incredibly easy and often free. You can get a free Google Voice number that includes a local area code, voicemail, texts, and unlimited calling. You can explore other options in our guide to the top-recommended business phone systems .
Hire an Answering Service
As a one-person operation, you may find it hard to get back to clients right away, especially during tax season. Sending prospective customers to voicemail when they need your services can cost you business. Go Answer is a bilingual answering service that connects your customers to live customer service agents via phone, text, web chat, or email 24/7. You can get started today with a 30-day free trial.
Set Up a Business Bank Account
It’s important to separate your business finances from your personal finances. While most think they should wait until the business starts to generate cash flow, it’s important to track expenses immediately so that they can be deducted as startup costs.
Establish a Business Mailing Address
If you plan to lease office space, then your mailing address will be wherever your office is located. However, if you plan to set up a home office, you’ll need to obtain a business mailing address so that you don’t have to use your home address. This will make your business appear more professional and maintain your privacy.
There are a couple of options. First, you can rent a post office box from your local post office. On average, you will pay $60 for six months or $120 for the year. Of course, the price will vary based on your location. Another is to rent a UPS mailbox instead, and the UPS Store will give you a real street address to use. A benefit to using a UPS mailbox is some merchants won’t deliver to P.O. boxes and require a street address.
Get Bookkeeper Insurance
As a bookkeeper, you should have liability protection in case you get sued for a mistake on your client’s books. Insurance can both cover the cost of settling a lawsuit and the lawyer fees to defend against a lawsuit.
Step 5: Get the Right Accounting Software
Determining which software to use to manage all of the various aspects of your business can be an overwhelming task. To get you started, the following is a list of the areas of your business for which you’ll need to decide which software tool to use:
You need to decide what accounting program you would like your clients to use. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the same platform that you use to manage your bookkeeping business. A few things to consider when selecting a software to recommend to your clients are:
- Can you access the client’s books remotely?
- How much will it cost each client for basic bookkeeping?
- How much will it cost to add client payroll?
- Is it easy for your client to learn to use?
- Does the software offer a certification program or partnership program for bookkeeping firms to help attract clients?
You’ll also need to choose a bookkeeping software for your bookkeeping business. Some accounting solutions offer a bookkeeper or accountant edition specifically designed for bookkeeping companies to use both for their books and as a portal to their client’s books.
My recommendation is that you use QuickBooks Online, which we rated as the overall best small business accounting software . As discussed earlier, you can get QuickBooks Online Accountant for free when you join the QuickBooks Online ProAdvisor program, which is also free.
Payroll Software or Provider
Depending on the bookkeeping/accounting software you choose, there generally will be a payroll processing option you can turn on when you’re ready to hire employees. If you decide to go with QuickBooks, it offers a variety of payroll options from which to choose. You can learn more about the solution in our in-depth QuickBooks Online Payroll review .
Practice Management Software
Another tool that will make your life easier is practice management software. This can help you organize and track the progress of client work and, in some cases, provide a portal to access your client’s books. QuickBooks and Xero offer the best accounting practice management software that’s integrated with their accountant software.
Electronic File Sharing/Management
A document-sharing program will allow you to share information—such as bank statements, copies of receipts, invoices, and accounting files—with your clients no matter where you’re working. Dropbox is a popular document sharing program.
You can create a dropbox for each client, and they can start submitting their information. This system is much more secure than sending files via email or flash drive. To access the information in the document-sharing program, you need a user ID and password. And more importantly, there’s no need for physical backup because files are in the cloud.
Step 6: Fund Your Bookkeeping Business
After completing your business plan, you’ll have a good idea of what your estimated startup costs will be. In general, the startup costs for a bookkeeping business can be low if you work out of a home office as opposed to leasing office space, which we’ll discuss in the next section. The experts say that you should always have at least six months’ worth of expenses in the bank. Also, even though your business is brand new and hasn’t generated any revenue, you may still qualify for startup business financing .
You’ll also want to open a business credit card account soon. A business card will likely be the first form of financing you’ll qualify for, and it can be a great financial tool to help you with cash flow or necessary expenses early on in your business. It can also be a great way to track your business expenses easily—this will go a long way toward making tax time a breeze.
New bookkeeping businesses will typically use a credit card to float working capital expenses, earn rewards, and manage employees. Check out our guide to the best business credit cards for startups to find one that fits the bill.
Step 7: Set Up a Home Office for Your Bookkeeping Business
When starting out, keep your costs low by setting up a home office. If possible, plan to meet your clients at their offices or virtually. I don’t recommend inviting clients to your home office unless you know them very well and have a private room where you can work. Read our home office setup ideas to learn about the must-haves and productivity hacks.
Also, don’t forget to take those home office tax deductions. You can deduct repairs and maintenance to the area used for business and a portion of utilities, real estate taxes, and insurance on your home.
If you can’t make a home office work, look into virtual office spaces or office sharing. Typically, these spaces include a mailing address, local telephone number, receptionist to answer calls, physical office space, and access to a conference room that you can rent by the hour.
Step 8: Market Your Bookkeeping Business
Marketing is one of the most difficult things for accountants and bookkeepers to master. Whether this is your side gig or full-time business, you can get a website customized for your business with a company that offers specialized marketing services, like CPA Site Solutions.
It’ll have one of its webmasters reach out to you for a quick 15-minute conversation before it goes on to create your website fitted with your logo, images, and content. It’ll focus on designing a website that increases revenue, improves client loyalty, and drives brand awareness. It even offers a free 30-day trial so that you can see if it works for your business.
In addition to a website, there are many ways to market your bookkeeping business:
- Become a business advisor with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
- Be an adjunct instructor.
- Get certified in accounting software.
- Sign up with bookkeeper websites for freelancers.
- Join a local meetup group of bookkeepers and accountants.
- Establish a client referral program.
- Establish professional social media accounts.
- Target a niche industry and join their industry association.
Bonus Tip: Stay on Top of Industry Trends for Bookkeepers
It’s tough to stay on top of new trends and changes in the industry. For example, one of the most popular trends in the software industry is that installed desktop software is becoming a thing of the past and is being replaced with subscription-based cloud software, also known as software-as-a-service (SaaS). This is a trend that’s changing how bookkeepers and accountants do business, so it’s important that you understand how it works since it’ll have a direct impact on your business.
Here are a few tips to “stay in the loop” on what’s going on in the bookkeeping/accounting industry.
1. Attend Accounting/Bookkeeping Conferences
Investing the time to attend a conference will give you those continuing education credits you need to keep your bookkeeper or CPA certification. It’ll also enable you to learn what the hottest trends in the industry are and what’s becoming obsolete. A great conference to attend is QuickBooks Connect, which is hosted by Intuit. The 2023 details for QuickBooks Connect haven’t yet been announced.
2. Sign Up for Blogs & Newsletters
You may be surprised by how much valuable information you can get from monthly blogs and newsletters. You may not want to sign up for every accounting/bookkeeping blog that you come across, but here are a few worth checking out:
- e-News Subscriptions (IRS.gov)
- Journal of Accountancy
- The QuickBooks Blog
- Insightful Accountant
- American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB)
3. Join a Professional Bookkeeper Association
You should be a member of at least one professional bookkeeper association. The AIPB and the NACPB are the top two associations for bookkeepers. Professional associations often promote or host seminars and training. Sometimes, members can get discounted rates on these events as membership perks. Being part of these associations can also help you build your network with other bookkeepers, CPAs, and tax experts.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is a bookkeeping business profitable.
Because of the relatively low overhead costs, bookkeeping businesses can be profitable if they have a steady flow of clients and can manage their expenses effectively. The profitability of the business also depends on its size, the number of clients, the level of competition in the market, and the pricing strategy.
Do you need a license to become a self-employed bookkeeper?
Unlike other finance professionals, such as accountants and financial planners, bookkeepers don’t need any licenses or certifications. Some bookkeepers may decide to earn optional credentials, such as the certified public bookkeeper (CPB) designation.
How much should I charge as a bookkeeper?
To determine how much to charge as a bookkeeper, it’s important to first evaluate your level of experience, your location, the services you offer, the frequency and complexity of the work, and whether you want to charge an hourly or fixed rate for your services.
See our guide on How Much Bookkeepers Charge for an up-to-date review of bookkeeping rates by state.
What does a bookkeeper do?
A bookkeeper is responsible for maintaining a company’s financial records, including recording financial transactions, reconciling accounts, generating financial reports, paying bills and issuing invoices to clients, and monitoring cash flow. A bookkeeper may also assist with the preparation of tax returns and other regulatory filings. The specific tasks and responsibilities of a bookkeeper may vary depending on the company they work for and the nature of their role.
Now that we’ve provided you with a roadmap to get your bookkeeping business started, I want to challenge you to pick a date for when you would like to be ready to take that first client. Then, take this guide and create a weekly to-do list based on the steps we have shared with you.
About the Author
Find Danielle On LinkedIn
Danielle Bauter is a writer for the Accounting division of Fit Small Business. She has owned Check Yourself, a bookkeeping and payroll service that specializes in small business, for over twenty years. She holds a Bachelor's degree from UCLA and has served on the Board of the National Association of Women Business Owners. She also regularly writes about travel, food, and books for various lifestyle publications.
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Accounting and Bookkeeping Business Plan Example
Basic Bookkeeping Business Plan Example
Importance of Bookkeeping
1. it limits the pain of auditing, 2. files for tax filing are gathered, 3. analysis and management, 4. requirement of the law, 5. you can plan ahead, company bookkeeping business plan example.
Comprehensive Bookkeeping Business Plan Example
Steps in Bookkeeping
1. prepare the source documents, 2. determine the relevant information about each transaction, 3. record journal entries into the general journal, 4. perform end-of-period procedures, 5. compile the adjusted trial balance, 6. close the books, detailed bookkeeping business plan example.
Lengthy Bookkeeping Business Plan Example
Typical Structure of a Business Plan
1. cover page, 2. table of contents, 3. executive summary, 4. mission statement, 5. business description, 6. swot analysis, 7. industry background, 8. competitor analysis, 9. market analysis, 10. marketing plan, 11. operations plan.
- What is our current standing now?
- Where do we want to be?
- How can we get there?
- How can we measure our progress?
12. Financial Plan
13. attachments and milestones, practical bookkeeping business plan example.
Well-Explained Bookkeeping Business Plan Example
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How to start a bookkeeping business – a step-by-step guide.
Bookkeeping is a tasking part of any small business. Small business owners know that time management , organization, and detail-orientation all need to go into keeping a strong system of accounting afloat. If these are skills you’ve mastered, you may consider starting your own bookkeeping business.
This step-by-step guide will map out the process to get started on your own bookkeeping business. We’ll cover building a bookkeeping plan, creating a strong accounting system, marketing and gaining clients and other helpful tips to get your business set up.
Here’s What We’ll Cover:
Benefits of Starting a Bookkeeping Business
Launch a thriving bookkeeping business, more resources for bookkeepers.
Perhaps you’ve worked as a bookkeeper for a larger company or firm and you’d like to branch out and start your own business . You may be ready to be your own boss, work virtually, make your own hours, and build your own accounting software program.
There are some things you should consider when thinking about starting your own bookkeeping business. Learn the benefits of starting out on your own small business venture that will encourage you to take that leap.
You get to establish your own management style.
Different bookkeepers have different methods of accounting. Depending on your training, certification, and experience you’ll learn to navigate different strategies and dial in what will help your company succeed. Only you know what accounting style works best for you, choose a system that helps you thrive.
You can choose your hours.
As a small business owner , you get to decide how many clients you want to take on, how much money you want to make, and how many hours you want to work during the day.
You can personalize your business and grow at your own pace.
Build a marketing strategy that draws clients to your unique brand, while becoming familiar with the clients that you’re bringing in, and predict how they could support future business bookkeeping goals.
The great thing about starting your own bookkeeping business is that all of these decisions will be yours to make. You will be the one putting the work in, so creating a personalized business model will be what sets you apart from competition, and what will get you the most fulfilling feedback.
Step One: Draft a Business Plan
Take time to sit down and write out a business plan– a roadmap of what you’d like your business to look like. This can be as creative as you’d like, and include short-term and long-term goals that you have for your bookkeeping business.
Your business plan should define your purpose in wanting to start this new endeavour. Be specific in what you’re trying to accomplish– what satisfies you about accounting and how you will amplify that satisfaction to create a practice of purpose?
Another key aspect of building your business plan will be finding your target audience. Again, it’s important to detect what potential clients you will be bringing in. Are you looking to get hired by small businesses bringing in large income ? Or freelancers starting out on their own?
Step Two: Create Your Accounting System
This step may be the most important aspect of beginning a successful bookkeeping business.
When you decide to go into business for yourself, a big part of your decision may be the thought of making your own hours and working less. The only way to make that transition a reality is by time management.
The key to time management is creating an effortless bookkeeping accounting system. This step may take trial and error but you will use your skills and experience to dial in a software program that is repeatable and strategic so that each client you decide to work with will be managed in the same structured pattern.
Having an effortless accounting system will be imperative when it comes to hiring on additional help for your business– as you could familiarize them with the existing software system and they could get started right away.
Step Three: Market to Prospective Clients
A successful business needs a strong marketing strategy from the start. By learning early on what your target audience is, you will gain huge insight on what procedures you need to take to keep your bookkeeping business at the top of potential clients’ radar.
Reference your initial business plan — what type of clientele are you aiming to serve? If you’re directing your accounting services to freelance businesses, you will implement practices that will be unique to serving freelancers, and that will encourage them to hire your business over a different bookkeeper.
Another aspect of marketing is dialing in your brand, which goes hand in hand with the type of clients you want to bring in. Knowing the market and what makes you stand out from other competitors will naturally draw your potential client base to your bookkeeping services .
Figure out what bookkeeping methods you’re good at (whether it be tax returns, payroll, financial data entry, insurance, etc.) and put emphasis on those services so that when potential clients see your website, they will know they want to work with you.
Step Four: Create a Business Website
When you dial in your business structure, accounting system, brand, and target audience, you’re ready to showcase it on a professional bookkeeping website.
Having a strong website will make you stand out against your competitors, and there are key elements to consider when building your platform.
- Choose a Structure – Different website platforms have many different styles and structures to choose from. Find a clean, manageable layout that will not distract visitors from your services.
- Make a Statement – What key statement do you want potential clients to remember that will set you apart from other professional bookkeepers and make them want to hire you? Fill guests in on your experience in the industry and they want to work with your company. Clients will prefer to work with an accredited professional bookkeeper– stating your certification and training could be useful.
- Guide Your Clients – Having organized and accessible services on your website will allow you to get clients familiar with what your business has to offer. Let clients know if you provide online bookkeeping service and how you can connect virtually. Make your services, your unique brand, and your mission apparent to each client that finds your site.
- Add Contact Information – How can clients contact you for your service? State where clients can find you online, via social media (linkedin, facebook, apps) and how they can get started and schedule a consultation with you.
Step Five: Strive for Business Success
Once your bookkeeping business is underway, you will have to trust that your system will draw clients to you. Time management, experience, and consistent energy will all be factors in your business success.
Maybe you learn that you’re drawing in different clientele than you’d anticipated, or you need to hire more assistance to help with a growing workload– managing and adjusting minor details in the beginning stages of your business will help dial in your bookkeeping services.
All the while, as you navigate your new business, keep in mind the initial goals you made, and continue to feed consistent energy into bringing those goals to life as you build your professional practice.
One of the most rewarding parts of building your own business is that whatever you put into it, you will see the outcome and reap the benefits. As you move along in your business plan, you get to decide how much time, energy, and motivation you have to give to your endeavor. Business owners alike know that the more you put in, the more you’ll get out.
Whatever your motivation for starting a business of your own, if you take the steps to create a strong roadmap, build a successful accounting system, and draw in clients through an organized and professional website, soon enough you’ll have your first client and be reaching your business bookkeeping goals.
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Niche and virtual bookkeeping businesses
Designing your bookkeeping business around a specific type of client or your strengths can be a successful way to go.
What does a niche bookkeeper do?
A niche bookkeeper usually focuses on a certain industry. Becoming an expert in a sector can let you stand out from the crowd. You can develop services that address their specific needs. Each industry has its own financial challenges to focus on.
Construction and trades
- Job costing and back costing
- Cash flow between buying supplies and getting paid
- Processing online payments
- Cross-border sales taxes, multi-currency, and exchange rates
- Staying on top of cost of goods sold
- Managing inventory
- Tracking project profitability
- Managing contractor and staff expenses
Capturing a niche isn’t all about offering the right bookkeeping services. It might be about relating to where they are in their business journey and striking the right tone.
There were 700 local cannabis farmers in our county and most of them were new to business. They’re used to being talked down to by business professionals. We wanted to change that.
Brett Gonsalves, Rolling Hills Bookkeeping
Five reasons to find a niche
A niche provider can focus their energy on perfecting a few key services. As a result, they simultaneously get better and faster at doing what they do. Put another way, their value goes up while their costs come down.
Here are five ways that a narrower focus can make you stronger.
1. Business comes to you: Becoming the known expert in a field will generate more word-of-mouth referrals.
2. Deals close faster: Prospects will understand you’re a fit for their business before you even start talking.
3. You can work smarter: You can come up with efficient processes that lower your cost of sales. In essence, you crowdsource your experience and dispense that knowledge out across your client base.
4. You have a license to charge more: You may be able to deliver highly specialized and valued services at a premium price.
5. It’s more fun: You get to do the things you love. All day. Every day. For people you want to work with.
Specializing by industry, service, or technology
Your bookkeeping practice could specialize by:
- industry – becoming the go-to bookkeeper for farmers, lawyers, or restaurateurs
- service – making the most of your particular strengths
- technology – developing expertise on certain types of software
These things are often intertwined. If you like a certain industry, you’ll probably develop the skills they value most, and you’ll learn the technologies that work best for them.
No matter how intuitive software might be, people simply don’t have time to learn all the tricks. They’ll happily pay their bookkeeper to make sure they’re using it effectively.
Meryl Johnston, Bean Ninjas
Go national (or global) as a virtual bookkeeper
As momentum builds, you can push outside your local market as a virtual bookkeeper.
Virtual bookkeepers work remotely for their clients using online accounting software to provide services and video calls for meetings.
You get to serve more clients than you’d normally find in your town, while clients generally get great value because your costs of doing business are lower. For example, a virtual bookkeeper:
- has fewer overheads (no high-street office space rent to pay)
- spends less time commuting to meetings
- develops efficient workflows through frequent repetition of niche services
We made the decision to go online at the same time as we developed our niche. Our market is happy to be served digitally – it was one of the reasons we chose the niche!
Jason Blumer, Blumer CPAs
Xero does not provide accounting, tax, business or legal advice. This guide has been provided for information purposes only. You should consult your own professional advisors for advice directly relating to your business or before taking action in relation to any of the content provided.
Starting a bookkeeping business
Work through the big decisions around accreditation, services to offer, fees to charge, and how to find clients.
You’ll need some training and certification to become a professional bookkeeper. Find out where this is available.
With a foundation of knowledge, skills and experience, take the next steps in setting up as a bookkeeper.
You need to nail down what services you’ll offer, who to, and how. Don’t promise more than you’re able to deliver.
It’s time to get things down on paper. Your business plan is vital to reality checking all those ideas you have.
How do you walk the line between profitable for you and affordable for your clients? And help clients budget?
You might deliver an awesome service at a great price, but what if no one knows? Let’s look at marketing your services.
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A guide to help you work through the big decisions around starting a bookkeeping business. Fill out the form to receive the guide as a PDF.
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Written by: Nick Charveron Nick
Managing your own business is no simple task— between juggling inventories, supervising employees, and growing your clientele, business owners have a lot to handle. Having a bookkeeper or accounting team on-hand is one of the most important investments you can make to grow your business.
Making sure your books are in order can help you save on taxes, stress, and give you the insight to improve efficiency and increase your revenue. Whether you outsource your bookkeeping or decide to hire someone in-house, it’s no question that this is an important position to consider when managing your business. Let’s jump into the details and explore your options for bookkeeping as a small to medium sized business.
Why is Bookkeeping Important?
Basic bookkeeping, full service bookkeeping, cost of an in-house bookkeeper, cost of an outsourced bookkeeper, integrated financial tools and software, industry-specific account management, tax savings and revenue growth, main takeaways for hiring a bookkeeper.
There’s a lot of coordination and logistics involved in running a small or medium sized business. Entering your busy season or dealing with employee turnover can distract business owners— resulting in inefficient infrastructure and plateauing growth strategy.
One of the first departments to slip through the cracks is often bookkeeping and accounting. What’s the big problem with that? Even if you’re “not a numbers person,” or even running a not for profit operation, there’s no denying that it’s cash flow that keeps your business afloat.
You’ve got both income and expenses to worry about as an owner, and keeping it all together can sometimes seem impossible. Mismanagement of your business’ money could mean less room for growth, and lack of productivity. Hiring a bookkeeping expert to help manage the ever so important nitty-gritty details of your accounts can save you time, and allow you to refocus your energy on profit growth and business strategy.
Besides taking some time off of your hands as a business owner, bookkeepers can provide expertise in financial regulations and account management that help ensure your business is operating in compliance with state and federal regulations for your industry. Failing to file your taxes correctly, or not processing employee payroll properly could end up costing your business a lot of money, and translate into big headaches for you as a business owner.
There are many options and fees associated with professional bookkeeping, let’s discuss the different types, and what you can expect to pay for financial management and bookkeeping.
Types of Bookkeeping
Not every business owner needs the same level of financial management services. Depending on your industry, the size of your company, how many employees you have, and how long you’ve been operating, you may need more or less support.
Before you hire a bookkeeper, ask yourself: “Do I need basic compliance, or do I need accounting help to increase my business’ profits?” Once you’ve answered this, you can start to compare your options for basic bookkeeping or full service bookkeeping.
Both have different rates and services, so doing your research to find the right solution for your business is essential! Let’s jump into the differences between basic bookkeeping and full service bookkeeping— and how to choose the best option for you based on your needs and budget.
If you’re just getting your business started, you may want to start with basic bookkeeping services to ensure your business is in compliance with relevant regulations, and on top of accounts payable and receivable operations. Once you’ve established a baseline for your revenue and overhead, you may need to advance to a full service bookkeeping department to help you optimize your business’ finances. So what can you expect from basic bookkeeping services?
- Financial compliance with state and government
- Accounts payable and receivable
- Recording transactions, maintaining proper filing
- Basic payroll management or processing
Businesses that have been in operation longer, manage more employees, or are growth-driven may require more robust bookkeeping services. For example, industries like commercial real estate process a high volume of real estate transactions and employees, and would most likely need a full service accounting system to manage their operations accurately.
A full service bookkeeper can help manage your finances with basic bookkeeping, and on top of that, help optimize your financial strategy to improve efficiency and identifying ways to increase your profit. Some of the services you can expect from a full service bookkeeper include:
- Dedicated accounting team or individual.
- Monthly reporting to analyze financial status and growth opportunities.
- Tax planning and consulting— optimized for filing.
- Maintaining proper financial statements and records.
- Financial audit defense.
- Management of bank and credit card accounts.
Once you’ve established the level of bookkeeping support you need, it’s time to look at how much bookkeepers cost so you can make the most financially-sound decision for your company. Monthly bookkeeping fees can vary, so make sure to get an accurate estimate from the team or individual before signing on.
How Much Do Bookkeepers Charge?
Bookkeeper rates vary depending on the business size, industry, and financial services needed. In-house bookkeepers can charge anywhere from $18-23 per hour, with variations depending on experience. Outsourced bookkeepers can be another solution with monthly bookkeeping fees starting from $99 per month.
The average hourly wage for a bookkeeper in the United States is $20, but bookkeeper rates can vary from $18 to $23 per hour, dependent on education, experience, and additional skill set. Whether you need a full time or part time employee will greatly impact how you calculate labor cost. Employee costs like benefits, training, and time-off are important to think about when comparing an in-house bookkeeper and a financial management company.
Having an in-house employee may be a good solution for some business owners, but for many high-volume businesses, the cost of training, payroll, and the potential for inaccuracies outweighs the benefits of hiring an in-house employee.
Hiring an outsourced bookkeeping agency can seem overwhelming at first glance— but it can be an extremely cost-effective, simple solution with many benefits that can help your business grow. The cost of outsourcing your bookkeeping can differ depending on your needs. FinancePal offers package-based bookkeeping pricing options that all include a dedicated accounting team, online access and mobile application, and monthly reconciliations.
Benefits of hiring an outsourced bookkeeper
- Collective experience is generally higher than for an individual— giving business owners more peace of mind.
- No need to train or onboard bookkeeping staff.
- Cost and time-efficient solution.
- Integrated tech solutions for internal and external use.
- Mobility and remote access to your account data and bookkeeping support.
- Advanced security solutions to protect your business’ financial data.
- Centralized account management and tracking to help you analyze business insights and areas for improvement
Finding the Right Bookkeeping for Your Business
Now that you know how much bookkeepers charge, and what kind of bookkeeping services you need, you’ll likely have to do some analysis of your options before starting the hiring process. To help guide your decision, we’ve come up with three important things to consider so you get the most return on investment!
Your business probably already uses tools and software to help keep your records and operations organized— adding in more applications to your tech stack can often cause more stress than it needs to. Whether you’re hiring in-house or outsourcing your bookkeeping, finding someone that has the right software tools to make finance management easy is important. Outfitting your accounting department with the integrated payroll software, project management tools, and point of sale systems enable business owners to focus on other aspects to better manage and grow their business.
Hiring a bookkeeper that totally understands your industry and its regulations is an important distinction to make when you’re looking for the right person or team to fill the job. Businesses in the hospitality or property management industries may need different financial services than business owners of a restaurant franchise.
When you hire someone that understands your business’ needs and industry requirements, you can save time on training and transitioning— and trust that your business is in good hands. FinancePal’s industry-specific financial experts are well-versed in industry standards and know that each business and business owner is unique. We work with you to provide services that meet your business’ individual needs and fit seamlessly into your business operations. Industries served include: restaurant, property management, online software services, and hospitality.
Taxes can be a frightening undertaking for anyone— but filing correctly for yourself and your business presents a whole new challenge. Different forms, requirements, and ways to file can be a lot to keep up with. Hiring a bookkeeper or financial management company for your small business can help ensure your business is: in compliance with the IRS , getting the most out of your year-end tax return, and is maintaining proper financial statements and tax records.
Ultimately, hiring a bookkeeper or financial management company will be different for every business and bookkeeper costs will vary. Deciding what kind of small business bookkeeping services you need, and what your business can afford is a great place to start. FinancePal offers a variety of financial services tailored to your industry and business operations. Work with a designated financial expert to help you streamline your accounting, and allow you to prioritize your time where you’re passionate, and most needed.
About the Author
Jacob Dayan, Esq.
Jacob Dayan is a true Chicagoan, born and raised in the Windy City. After starting his career as a financial analyst in New York City, Jacob returned to Chicago and co-founded FinancePal in 2015. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Mitchell Hamline School of Law, and is a licensed attorney in Illinois. Jacob has crafted articles covering a variety of tax and finance topics, including resolution strategy, financial planning, and more. He has been featured in an array of publications, including Accounting Web, Yahoo, and Business2Community.
Nick Charveron, EA
Nick Charveron is a licensed tax practitioner, Co-Founder & Partner of Community Tax, LLC. His Enrolled Agent designation is the highest tax credential offered by the U.S Department of Treasury, providing unrestricted practice rights before the IRS.
Jason Gabbard, Founder and CEO of JUSTLAW
Jason Gabbard is a lawyer and the founder of JUSTLAW.
Andrew Jordan, Chief Operations Officer at FinancePal
Andrew is an experienced CPA and has extensive executive leadership experience.
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