Getting Started as a Self-Employed Bookkeeper, Accountant or Financial Planner
Is it possible to start an accounting or bookkeeping business with little or no money? You bet.
What are the ingredients of small business success? To build a business, you need resources—an education is a resource, as are contacts—but if you think that you need heaps of cash to strike out on your own as a self-employed solopreneur, think again.
Whether you’re a fresh-faced CPA with no experience, or a mid-career financial planner, you can start a freelance business as a bookkeeper, tax preparer, auditor, accountant, or financial planner without breaking the bank.
There are plenty of free and cheap resources to help you generate leads, build partnerships, and network with clients…
As a money manager, you don’t need much to get your business off the ground: A list of contacts, a computer, and a cell phone. That’s about it! Of course, you’ll also need to know your stuff, so make sure that your education is up to snuff, and if you’re coming out of retirement, then make sure your certificates and licenses are valid.
4 Steps to Starting a No or Low Cost Bookkeeping Business
Competent accountants and bookkeepers never lack for work. For some CPA’s, April is enough to keep them in the black year-round. Others advertise their services to local businesses, families, and wealthy individuals.
Before you begin to sell yourself as a freelancer, it might help to define your niche. By targeting a particular industry or business, or by focusing on, say, wealth management rather than accounting, you can give yourself a leg up. Concentrating on a narrow range of services will help you build a brand. It’s always easier to approach a potential client if you can summarize your value in a few words—“I do X better than anyone.”
One last piece of general advice: You should never have to pay to get a job. Not a single penny. If you’re using excellent and helpful websites such as Elance to find work, and getting your forms from our pals at Greatland, then be wary of potential “clients” who insist you pay a fee to earn their contract.
Step 1: Go Home
The easiest way to start a business with little or no money is to start it out of your house. That saves on rent, commuting costs, and other similar expenses.
Step 2. Go Above and Beyond
When you’re starting out in self-employment, you need to find your sweet spot. That might mean bidding low to earn a few initial contracts, or selling yourself as a “full-service” financial planner. By offering flexible services, you can attract potential clients who are looking to save money.
Look at every contract as an opportunity to earn your client’s repeat business. As a freelancer, you can work on-site and off-, you can pull all-nighters, work at a reduced rate, or master a proprietary piece of software. You work harder, faster, and cheaper than the other guys—so never be afraid to sell these strengths to clients.
Step 3: Use Technology To Your Advantage
In the old days, freelancers were limited to clients “within reach.” Literally! Now, thanks to the Internet, you don’t even need to be in the same time zone as your clients. This means more opportunity, but it also means more competition.
A freelancer in New York, England, or Australia can use sites like Elance to connect with clients in your area. That’s why you need to begin building a network as soon as possible.
Luckily, there are plenty of free and cheap resources to help you generate leads, build partnerships, and network with clients both near and far. Join a small business or freelance network in your area. Sign up for contract bidding and develop your presence on social media. If you’re trying to build a business on the cheap, these web-based resources can be priceless tools.
Step 4: Invest in Security
When you are self-employed, you can’t afford to make big mistakes. Disaster-proof your business by investing in technologies that will allow you to back up your clients' information, either in a physical location such as a hard drive, or on a virtual cloud-based network.
Use your security features as a selling point in order to assure clients that their financial information is in safe hands. When you're trying to build a brand without spending too much money, your top priority should be retention—make your customers happy and they'll bring you business again and again.