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How to start a bookkeeping business in 6 steps in 2022 and work from home

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You don’t need to have a formal education, degree or even certification to become a bookkeeper or to start your own bookkeeping business. 

So, while you can technically start a bookkeeping business with little investment, there are some steps and costs to consider if you want to establish a legitimate business and attract quality, high-paying clients. 

Fortunately, there are numerous online bookkeeping courses available, from short introductory courses that are only a few hours long to in-depth, months-long courses that include a certification — which is helpful for your own education, as well as marketing your services to clients.

We recommend Bookkeeper Launch because it is specifically geared toward people who want to learn bookkeeping and start a bookkeeping business — and it is taught by  successful bookkeepers who has helped thousands of people launch their own successful companies. 

Get a taste of whether bookkeeping is for you, and what this A+ BBB program entails with this free bookkeeper course >>

You could also read our Bookkeeper Launch 2022 review to learn more about what this career takes, or continue reading the steps you could take to start today:

How to start a bookkeeping business: 6 steps

1. Find bookkeeping training online or in person.

Typically, you only need experience in accounting to find entry-level work. Many employers are also willing to hire inexperienced bookkeepers provided they have the basic math and software skills.

However, thousands of moms have gone through Bookkeeper Launch, an online video course and community to learn everything you need to know to successfully launch a bookkeeper business, including both the hard skills, selling and marketing, as well as mindset blocks that can hold you back from launching and growing into the 6-figure, at-home career that many moms dream of.

Bookkeeper Launch issues a certificate of completion, which is both helpful in marketing your new business, as well as giving you the confidence to seek out and book clients. This post details learning to become a bookkeeper.

2. Get experience working part time or as an intern.

Many bookkeepers find work with a single organization, while others work as freelance bookkeepers for a handful of clients. The high level of skill required for this career has also paved the way for wages as high as $100 per hour or more, according to sources such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics and ZipRecruiter. 

Visit hiring websites like Indeed or Ziprecruiter to see what part-time jobs or internships are available for bookkeepers.

Some online courses, like Bookkeeper Launch, will connect you with a community of other bookkeepers who may be looking to hire help.

3. Register your business. 

As I mentioned before, you’ll probably want to register your business as a sole proprietorship or LLC. In most states, these are the steps: 

  1. Name your business.
  2. Register online through your state’s Department of State website as a sole proprietorship or LLC and pay the corresponding registration fee. 
  3. If you register an LLC, you’ll also have to file a Certificate of Organization laying out details of your bookkeeping business (address, employees, etc.).
  4. In some states, you have to run an ad or ads in qualifying newspapers or other publications to establish your business. 

If you want to become an official business, you’ll need to choose a business structure — likely a sole proprietorship or LLC — and pay the required fees to register in your state. How you structure your business will affect your taxes and legal liability, so you may want to hire an attorney or accountant to discuss your options.

Sole proprietorships work for most freelancers, but an LLC protects your personal assets in the event you accrue debt or if someone sues you. 

Some states also require businesses (both sole proprietorships and LLCs) to publish an advertisement in a qualifying newspaper or legal publication as part of the registration process. 

4. Get a business checking account and insurance coverage. 

Open a business checking account to keep track of your business income and expenses, and consider investing in insurance coverage to protect your business and personal assets. If you’re self-employed, consider getting the following coverage: 

Bookkeeper Launch recommends bookkeepers get errors and omissions insurance, a type of professional liability insurance that will protect you from lawsuits if you make a mistake, don’t deliver your work on time (or at all), or otherwise fall short of expectations. According to Investopedia, most policies cost between $500 to $1,000 a year. 

5. Get bookkeeping software.

You’ll likely need to purchase software to actually conduct your business. Quickbooks is regularly cited as the most popular bookkeeping software and costs anywhere from $30 to $200 a month.

6. Launch a website when you’re ready to hang your shingle and start marketing.

At the very minimum, you will need a basic website detailing your services. To reach potential clients, you may need to invest in marketing like Facebook or Google ads, direct mail, email campaigns, networking events, or even local newspaper ads.

What does a bookkeeping business do?

Bookkeeping businesses help other business owners to maintain their business’ financial records. This can include recording sales, revenue, and expenses, check statements for accuracy, verify receipts, billing and account receivables and payroll.

Some businesses have bookkeepers on staff, though it’s increasingly common to hire independent bookkeepers — especially small or new businesses. Many bookkeepers have multiple clients at the same time.

Independent bookkeepers can expand and hire a roster of bookkeepers. Increasingly, both staff and independent bookkeepers can work remotely, meaning your client base can be anywhere in the world.

Here's what else you need to know about starting a bookkeeping business:

How much money does a bookkeeping business make? 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the average salary for a bookkeeper at $42,410 per year for 2020 (the most recent data available). However, it’s unclear if this figure includes salaries from self-employed bookkeepers. 

ZipRecruiter lists the national average salary for a self-employed bookkeeper at $77,480 per year or $37 per hour. Top earners stand to make more than $250,000 annually. 

Is a bookkeeping business profitable?

Sageworks, a provider of financial risk software, ranked bookkeeping and related businesses at the top of its list of most profitable small businesses, with an average profit margin of 18.4%. 

Is it hard to start a bookkeeping business?

The process laid out by Bookkeeper Launch is simple:

  1. Decide you want to own your own bookkeeper business.
  2. Learn the basics of bookkeeping in 90 days.
  3. Set up a website with basic marketing materials (Bookkeeper Launch shows you how, step-by-step).
  4. Start networking in your community. Afraid? Imposter syndrome? The course helps you work through these very normal fears. Successful clients report that the Bookkeeper Launch closed Facebook community is especially helpful in inspiring new bookkeepers to launch and think big — as well as provide tactical and emotional support as you start and grow.
  5. Celebrate! You did it!

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How much does it cost to start a bookkeeping business?

The cost of starting a bookkeeping business can range from $0 if you are simply using a computer and some software you already own, work from home, and get a few clients by word-of-mouth.

However, if you choose to invest in a training and certification program, buy a new laptop, invest in some specialized software, business licenses and insurance, build even a basic website to promote your services, and some marketing efforts, you can easily spend $10,000 to get off the ground.

How do I find bookkeeping clients?

After opening a bookkeeping business, you need to find clients to bring money in. Bookkeeper Launch’s number one recommendation for finding clients is what founder Ben Robinson calls “Yakkity-Yak,” which essentially just means telling all the people you know that you’ve started a bookkeeping business. He says this is how he landed his first handful of clients.

Robinson advises his students not to try to sell themselves or even ask for referrals. Yakkity-Yak is just about planting seeds so people will think of you the next time they or someone they know needs bookkeeping services. He also recommends handing those people a business card with your website and basic contact info.

This method is also how Erin Bardsley, a Bookkeeper Launch graduate, landed most of her clients. 

“There are millions of small businesses in this country, and every single one of them needs a bookkeeper,” says Bardsley, who had no prior experience in bookkeeping when she started the course. “Just using my own personal contacts has been incredibly helpful.”

Bardsley currently works with seven clients across different industries, including a bakery, yoga studio, and art nonprofit. Check out her full interview here:

These are some places Robinson recommends informing people about your business: 

  • Bus stop
  • Book club
  • Birthday parties
  • Social media
  • Religious services
  • Kids events
  • School events
  • Clubs and activities
  • Sporting events
  • Waiting room

Second to Yakkity-Yak, Robinson recommends networking. Because bookkeepers can work virtually from anywhere in the world, your networking efforts can include in-person events and virtual forums. 

These are some ideas/places to find networking opportunities, both in person and online:  

  • Business Networking International
  • Local chamber of commerce
  • Rotary club
  • Websites like Meetup.com, eventbrite.com
  • Google “business networking events near me” 
  • Online events, groups and forums with a business focus
  • Facebook groups
  • Linkedin groups
  • Professional association websites
  • Industry-specific websites, blogs, publications

These are some other ways to find or attract bookkeeping clients from the Bookkeeper Launch course: 

Google My Business page

  • Facebook business page
  • Email marketing to high-quality leads (the people most likely to work with you)
  • Freelance sites like Upwork to find quick gigs and build your portfolio

How to get bookkeeping clients: Is it hard?

As Robinson says in his Bookkeeper Launch course, the more you put your message out there, the more likely you are to get clients. Bookkeepers.com, the site that offers the Bookkeeper Launch course, says most of its students take about 3 to 6 months to get their first clients. 

These are some things you can do to increase your chances of finding bookkeeping clients.  

  • Get training/certification from an established provider like Bookkeeper Launch
  • Make a list of all the people you know and find ways to let them know you’ve started a bookkeeping business
  • Form relationships with referral partners (they recommend you and you recommend them)
  • Take on freelance gigs or subcontract clients from an established bookkeeper – Bookkeeper Launch has an online community of bookkeepers who offer each other help/advice about the industry
  • Build an attractive website to promote your business and include it on your business card

Robinson also recommends specializing in a niche industry so you can hone your marketing strategy. If you have past experience or specialized knowledge in a certain industry, you’ll have a leg up in landing clients in that industry. These are his top 10 recommended industries based on their simple business models:

  • Construction
  • Real estate investors
  • Dentists
  • Online product sales: Amazon, Shopify, e-commerce
  • Professional services: engineers, architects, IT, consultants
  • Agriculture
  • Trades: electricians, plumbers, painters, etc. 
  • Physicians (if you have an “in” with someone in the medical industry)
  • Veterinarians
  • Attorneys

How much should a small business bookkeeper charge?

Depending on your experience, demand for your services, and the industries you service, self-employed bookkeepers should charge between $30 and $100 per hour. 

Bottom line: How to start a bookkeeping business quickly

Bookkeeping can be a steady, in-demand career that gives you the opportunity to control your schedule, location flexibility, and work with interesting and passionate business owners and entrepreneurs. 

Bookkeeper Launch is an easy way to learn not only bookkeeping skills, but get the steps and support to actually start, grow and manage a successful bookkeeping business. 

Get a taste of whether bookkeeping is for you, and what this A+ BBB program entails with this free bookkeeper course >>

Bookkeeping not a fit? Find more business ideas for moms

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What does a bookkeeping business do?

A bookkeeper typically works with either a small business or accountant clients to make sure that the client's revenue and expense records are organized and accounted for. This helps the client with tax filings and to understand their business operations, so they can make decisions on how to grow.

How much money does a bookkeepers business make?

ZipRecruiter lists the national average salary for a self-employed bookkeeper at $77,480 per year or $37 per hour. Top earners stand to make more than $250,000 annually.

Is bookkeeping profitable?

Sageworks, a provider of financial risk software, ranked bookkeeping and related businesses at the top of its list of most profitable small businesses, with an average profit margin of 18.4%.

How much does it cost to start a bookkeeping business?

While you can technically start a bookkeeping business with little or no investment, there are some costs to consider if you want to establish a legitimate business and attract quality, high-paying clients: courses/training, establishing a business, insurance, software, and marketing.

How do I find bookkeeping clients?

Bookkeeper Launch’s number one recommendation for finding clients is what founder Ben Robinson calls “Yakkity-Yak,” which essentially just means telling all the people you know that you’ve started a bookkeeping business. He says this is how he landed his first handful of clients.

Is it hard to get bookkeeping clients?

Bookkeepers.com, the site that offers the Bookkeeper Launch course, says most of its students take about 3 to 6 months to get their first clients.

Wealthysinglemommy.com founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist, author and expert. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. As an expert on divorce and gender, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality and multiple state legislature hearings. More about Emma's credentials.

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