To start an accounting business may be the perfect company for you -- do you love numbers, working on the computer, and understand accounting well?
This business can be tailored to meet your needs – you can do this part-time or full-time, in your “off” hours or during normal “9 to 5” hours, and you can identify specific industries you know well.
This can also be one of those online home businesses depending upon how you structure your business and communicate with your customers.
Depending upon your skills and interests, you can start a bookkeeping service, provide full accounting/payroll services, offer accounts payable or accounts receivable support, or you may want to provide your customers with tax preparation services.
There are a variety of different types of assignments and services in this broad field for you to pick from based upon your interests.
For some of us, accounting is one of those necessary “evils” that we just hate (or just don't want to do ourselves :) This represents a great opportunity for you if you enjoy this type of work!
A little personal advice (because you know I will!) to those who
want to start an accounting business, make sure to identify companies who are a
good “fit” for the specific services you’ll be offering. Make sure you can handle the assignments you are trying to get from your clients -- ask a variety of clarifying questions to get to the root of the assignment(s) -- and don't make assumptions!
While this seems like a very simple concept, it becomes very important that you truly understand your client's company, how they operate, provide value-added accounting services, and obtain positive referrals.
The reason I believe you need to thoughtfully consider who your clients are is based on a personal experience where I hired an accountant who indicated she was well-versed in my particular industry and knew how to handle my business books. Unfortunately, I found out too late this wasn’t the fact. It took my new accountant and me over two years to remedy the mess created in just a short time by the first person I hired.
You'll definitely want to create a terrific relationship, provide value, get repeat business, and get referrals from your clients to build your business.
The Journal of Accountancy shares these valuable ideas for bringing in more clients:
Resources: A good computer, accounting software program, calculator. As you start an accounting business, you may want to invest in a good quality internet connection and document retrieval system so you can work over the internet rather than in person
Time Required: 10-15 hrs/week; can work full-time 30-40+ hrs/week
Training: Before you start an accounting business, you’ll want to have training in basic bookkeeping, accounting, possibly payroll preparation, accounts receivables, accounts payables, etc. You can obtain this by attending evening classes at the local college/university, working as an accountant, and/or taking online classes. Identify which accounting software package is best for you and your clients then learn the specifics of the software well.
Of course, obtaining a CPA degree would be helpful and allow you to provide additional services to your clients. Check with your local universities and state offices for exam requirements.
Market: Small to Mid-Size Business Owners
Home Based: Yes
Location: Local, Regional, National
Start-Up Costs: $500 - $1,000
Minimizing Start-Up Costs: As you start an accounting service, find a dedicated quiet workspace in your home for your office, set-up your computer, and obtain a good quality internet connection. Work with your client’s to determine if you can utilize online software they are already using to keep your start-up costs to a minimum.
Ask your clients about obtaining information/documents online to avoid the necessity to meet them at their office to gather hard copy accounting records. This will also help with organization and reduce confusing paper receipts which need to be sorted and may require additional time on your part.
Attend networking events to discuss your business and identify those small businesses who are growing and may now require an accountant to help them focus on their business while you concentrate on the accounting. Meet with your customers (either in person or over the internet) a minimum of once/month to discuss their accounting, ask questions, and provide feedback on their financial situation.