Becoming a self-employed accountant gives you the freedom about when and how you work and who you work for. Setting out on your own is an exciting opportunity, but how do you get started?

We’ll look at how you can become a self-employed accountant by looking at the following areas:

  • Become a qualified accountant 
  • Set up your business
  • Notify HMRC of your tax status
  • Get insured and licenced
  • Find some clients

Become a qualified accountant 

To become a qualified accountant, you should hold a degree or have trained with an authorised accountancy practice. Training with a firm can take between 3-5 years and involves exams through a professional body, as well as gaining practical experience with client accounts. 

Certain types of accounting work, such as auditing or probate work, might require separate qualifications. Do your research to make sure you’re qualified and legally able to carry out this kind of work before offering it as a service.

After you have your qualifications, you can apply to a professional board for a practising certificate so you can set up a public practice. Once you have the practising certificate, you can use the title Chartered or Certified, which can give a more professional edge to your services. 

There’s a range of qualifications and professional bodies you should look into before starting your practice, such as:

  • AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians): the qualifications the AAT offer is the minimum you need to start a general career in accountancy
  • ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants): ACCA qualifications allow you to become a qualified chartered accountant, for a full range of accountancy services.
  • Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
  • Association of International Accountants

You must register with a recognised supervisory body (like the ones mentioned above) to provide accountancy services – this is a legal requirement. The supervisory body will monitor your busy so you must comply with their standards.

It’s important to keep up to date with the changes in industry standards and professional regulations too – they’re always changing so you need to be on top. This includes data protection legislation (as you’ll be keeping information about your clients) and anti-money laundering laws, just to name a few.

Set up your business

Register your business

The first step to starting your business is to decide how you’d like to structure your business. Will you be a sole trader, a limited company?

It’s worth noting that a limited company providing accountancy services may look more professional to potential clients than being a sole trader. Opting to be a limited company also provides you with limited liability for any debt associated with running the business. However, the sole trader structure is simple and easy to manage, with fewer legal obligations.

Choose your business name

Next up, choose your business name and register it with Companies House

Work out start-up costs

It’s simple to work remotely without needing to meet clients in person, so you can easily run your business from home and with little equipment. But you’ll need to consider what items you need to purchase to get your accounting business up and running: 

  • Computer or laptop
  • Back-up hard drives or database
  • Mobile phone or landline
  • Office furniture and storage cabinets
  • Admin items like printer
  • Marketing and social media
  • Accounting software to make life easier for you and your clients, such as Countingup

Notify HMRC of your tax status

If you choose to be a sole trader, you’ll simply need to register as self-employed with HMRC, as you need to manage your own taxes. 

If you have chosen to trade as a limited company, you must register with HMRC as an employer (as you’ll act as director and employee in the business). 

Get insured and licensed as a self-employed accountant

You need to get insurance for your new accounting business to protect you in case accidents happen. There are various covers you can get as a self-employed accountant, but we recommend you look at:

  • Professional indemnity insurance – protects you against claims made by dissatisfied clients in case of accusation of professional negligence by making a mistake
  • Public liability insurance – this protects you if a member of the public claims they were injured in dealing with your business or your work caused property damage
  • Business interruption insurance – provides financial assistance for lost revenue if you can’t work in your office because of fire, flooding, or other eventualities. You’ll need separate cover if you are unable to work due to illness or injury

Find some clients

After taking these steps, you’ll be ready to start trading — congrats! Now it’s to find clients and start making money. The best place to start is to reach out to your existing network of friends and friends to see if anyone needs accounting services. Even if they don’t need help themselves, they might know somebody else who does. Approximately 92% of customers trust a referral from someone they know, so recommendations and word of mouth help to get your self-employed accountant business off the ground. 

You’ll also want to create a professional website that potential clients can visit to find out more about you and your business. Websites builders like WordPress or Wix have free templates to create a simple website.

Here are some marketing methods you can use to spread the word about your services:

  • Offer vouchers for a free half-hour of your time for referrals or new clients
  • Use digital marketing techniques such as local SEO to find clientele in your area, and content marketing to show your expertise
  • Use social media, especially LinkedIn to connect with other businesses, potential clients and other accountants to build credibility
  • Attending events in your chosen specialist industry
  • Use offline marketing such as flyers, business cards or newspaper and radio ads

Streamline your self-employed accountant services with Countingup

Our intelligent software makes it easy to link client accounts and get instant access to real-time financial data. We automate time-consuming tasks like invoice creation and categorising, reconciling bank accounts, and tax estimates so bookkeepers can complete more work in less time. Efficiency wins! And as a result, you can take on more clients while maintaining top-standard service offerings.

You can save tonnes of time wasted on manual admin and help your clients keep organised records with our accounting software. Our app is built specifically to help self-employed accountants like you manage your self-employed and sole trader clients.

Our app automates time-consuming bookkeeping admin so your clients can focus on running their business. It’ll also send you accurate, structured data to work from. Our accounting software is MTD-compatible and full of small wins, with features to help you efficiently review and manage client accounts with direct access to their real-time organised data. Find out more here.


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