Start An Accounting Business

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.

Start An Accounting Business

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:

  • Overcome the Urge to be a Worker Bee
  • Be Yourself
  • Understand What You Need to Get Ahead
  • Ask for Work and Articulate Your Value
  • Be Patient
N2 - Niche Notes

Niche Notes!!

Think about specific services you will offer when you start an accounting business -- here's some "add-on" ideas:

1)   Offer bookkeeping, accounting, or payroll services. 

2)  Add accounts receivables or payables packages to help keep cashflow moving through your client's company.  

3)   Be a virtual assistant -- handling the bookkeeping, along with answer phones, handling internet orders, and providing e-filing services.

4)  Specialize in one specific industry (e.g. real estate, insurance, or service businesses).  

5)   Offer internet research along with your accounting services to identify new clients, potential products, or other information required by your clients.  

6)   Provide data analysis based on the financials of the business and provide business owners a full picture of their business, cash flow, and customers.  

Start an Accounting Business - What's It Take?


  • Bookkeeping and Accounting Knowledge
  • Ability to work with accounting software programs
  • Advanced math skills
  • Communication kills
  • Organization skills
  • Time management

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

Internet:             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.  

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