How do I Start a Bookkeeping Business?

K. Testa
K. Testa
A bookkeeper reviewing a ledger.
A bookkeeper reviewing a ledger.

There are typically several steps in the process of starting a bookkeeping business. Someone might first earn his or her degree and then work for a company as its bookkeeper. A person with a significant amount of experience working for someone else might then decide to start his or her own business. Some people choose to become certified first, while others launch their businesses right away. They often need to decide whether to rent an office space or to work from home. Next, they usually set up their offices and begin advertising their services.

Bookkeeping, or maintaining the financial records of another individual or business, is a useful occupation that is easy to learn. With the proper education and a reasonable amount of professional experience, someone can open a bookkeeping business, often working out of his or her home. One can usually choose to earn a diploma by taking bookkeeping courses in a traditional classroom, online, or through self-study courses.

Many people choose to become certified professional bookkeepers. Achieving certification typically lends credibility to one’s professional reputation. In the U.S., bookkeepers can pursue certification through the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB). They usually need to have minimum amount of professional experience before attempting to become certified.

A bookkeeper can then establish the legal form that his or her business will take. Two common examples are a limited liability company (LLC) or a sole proprietorship. The decision will most likely be based on tax issues and the amount of personal liability that he or she plans to take on. The person can then obtain a business license and register his or her business name. Many people also join the local chamber of commerce for networking opportunities. They also usually must decide whether to offer additional services, such as tax preparation, or strictly bookkeeping. It might help to research the current rates of other professionals in the area, and set one’s own rates according to factors like location and amount of labor involved.

Whether the individual is renting a space or working out of his or her home, setting up the office is a logical next step in the process of starting a bookkeeping business. Most professionals require reliable bookkeeping software and a detailed filing system. To operate a successful bookkeeping business, one generally needs to be familiar with the relevant technology and with routine accounting procedures. Opening a separate bank account for the business is also standard practice.

To attract clients, one needs to advertise his or her bookkeeping business. This can be accomplished several ways, such as through distributing business cards in person or mailing brochures directly to businesses. Other options include contacting local media about ad placements and creating a business website. Depending on the location, many people also feel that word-of-mouth is an effective way to gain exposure and attract clients.

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    • A bookkeeper reviewing a ledger.
      By: Danny Hooks
      A bookkeeper reviewing a ledger.