If you enjoy organising, business finance and having control over how and when you work, becoming a self-employed bookkeeper could be the right career path for you. Whether you’re just starting your career or you’re a seasoned bookkeeper looking to branch out on your own, this guide tell you how to become a self-employed bookkeeper in the UK.

We’ll explain how to do this by looking at the following:

  • The self-employed bookkeeper’s role in the digital business world
  • How to become a self-employed bookkeeper in the UK
  • What you need to consider when starting your own bookkeeping business
  • How Countingup can help you streamline your bookkeeping services

The self-employed bookkeeper’s role in the digital business world

We’re living in a digital age, where almost everything can be done online. This includes bookkeeping services. As a result, bookkeepers can take on virtual jobs where needed. You don’t need an office and can do all your business online, it’s more convenient for you (and your clients) and means you’ll have a good work-life balance. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Video call software like Zoom or Google Meet, combined messaging apps and modern accounting software like Countingup, all help to make virtual bookkeeping possible. You can just meet or chat with clients online instead of in person.

Countingup also makes it easy to link to client accounts, so you can get instant access to real-time financial data. With the software automating time-consuming tasks like invoice creation and categorising, reconciling bank accounts, and tax estimates, bookkeepers can get more work done in less time. So as a result, you can take on more clients whilst still providing the best service you can.

How to become a self-employed bookkeeper in the UK


You don’t need any specific qualifications to become a self-employed bookkeeper in the UK. As long as you have some experience and a working understanding of accounting, you’re good to go. You’ll need to be comfortable with:

  • Bookkeeping processes
  • Balance sheets
  • Financial statements
  • A receivable and accounts payable 
  • UK tax regulations 

That said, if you’re completely new to the profession, taking a training course in accounting and bookkeeping is recommended to get you up to speed. 

The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) and the International Association of Bookkeepers (IAB) offer a variety of training courses where you can develop your skills.

You need to inform the government that you’re offering self-employed bookkeeping services by registering as a sole trader. You’re legally responsible for your business as a sole trader, but you get to keep all the earnings after tax.

As a self-employed bookkeeper, you’ll submit a Self Assessment tax return each year to report and calculate your taxes.

You’ll also need to comply with UK money laundering regulations for bookkeeping services. Carrying out due diligence with your customers to make sure they aren’t involved in any illegal activity is a must.

And as you’ll be working with client’s private data, you’ll likely need to pay a data protection fee to the UK government.

Workspace set up

You don’t need to rent an office, but it’s important to have a designated workspace in your home, like a home office or space in a room. You’ll likely need:

  • A laptop or computer 
  • Bookkeeping or accounting software 
  • Safe, digital store for client information
  • Storage cabinets
  • A printer and paper

You don’t necessarily need a phone as you can onboard and follow up with clients via video call. Just make sure you have a good WiFi connection and a space to hold your calls without disruption. 


It’s wise to get insurance for your bookkeeping business to protect you. There are various covers you can get as a self-employed bookkeeper, but we recommend you at least get:

  • Professional indemnity insurance: protects you against claims made by dissatisfied clients and employees of your business
  • Public liability insurance: protects you in case a member of the public claims against your business for injury or property damage
  • Business interruption insurance: provides financial assistance and lost revenue if you can’t work in your office because of fire, flooding, or other eventualities

Superscript offers excellent small business insurance for affordable prices. Check them out.

Finding clients

Once you’ve set up the foundation for your business, you need to decide two things: what you want to offer and who you want to offer it to. Think about who your ideal client is. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What industry do they work in?
  • How old is the company?
  • What bookkeeping solutions might they need? 

Most established businesses will already have bookkeepers working for them, so it might be worth targeting new business startups. These companies probably don’t have a bookkeeper yet so might take up your offer.

A great way to start finding clients is to sign up to a freelancing website like UpWork, Fiverr, or PeoplePerHour. Freelance websites like the above help to connect professionals of every niche and industry with clients who need their services.


A good place to start when spreading the word about your new self-employed bookkeeping business is to reach out to your friends, family and their networks.

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

  • Your business purpose – and any niche you focus on
  • Your services and rates – or where to get a quote
  • Your contact information – such as your business email, phone number, and address (if necessary)
  • Information about you and your qualifications 
  • Positive client testimonials as you earn them

Social media is also a great way to build a network, connect with potential clients, and share resources and tips to help build a credible brand. Different sites serve various users, as we’ve listed below:

  • LinkedIn – Best for connecting with other bookkeeping professionals and businesses. 
  • Twitter – Great for sharing quick and short bits of information to educate, inform and connect with prospective clients. 
  • Facebook – More for catching the attention of individuals rather than companies. Great for joining groups in your sector to look for opportunities and share your knowledge

You can learn more about how to market a bookkeeping business here.

Save time on sole trader clients with Countingup

You can save time on manual admin and help your clients keep organised records with Countingup’s accounting software. It’s built specifically to help self-employed bookkeepers like you manage your self-employed and sole trader clients’ accounts.

The Countingup business account automates time-consuming bookkeeping admin for your clients so they can focus on running their business—and you can connect to their account to receive accurate, structured data to work from. The accounting software is MTD-compatible and full of features for you to efficiently review and manage client accounts with direct access to their real-time data. Find out more here.


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