Being a self-employed bookkeeper can allow you to utilise your head for numbers while gaining more control of how and when you work –– and whom you work for. Whether you’re a seasoned bookkeeper looking to branch out on your own or just starting your career, this guide will help you get started. 

We’ll explain how to become a self-employed bookkeeper in the UK by looking at the following:

  • The 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 bookkeeper’s role in the digital business world

We’re living in a digital age where almost everything can be done online, including bookkeeping services. As a result, virtual bookkeeping where you don’t have an office and conduct all your business online is not only possible but can be more convenient for you and your clients. 

Communication tools like Zoom or Google Meet combined with instant messaging apps and modern accounting software like Countingup all contribute to making virtual bookkeeping possible. That’s because virtual bookkeepers can maintain the crucial human element of their businesses without in-person meetings. 

Countingup also makes it easy to link to client accounts and 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 have the ability to get more work done in less time. As a result, you can take on more clients while still maintaining top-standard service offerings.

How to become a self-employed bookkeeper in the UK

Qualifications

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

Office set-up

You can start your new bookkeeping career from home as long as you have enough space to work. These days, you can onboard and follow up with clients via video chat and use accounting software to prepare their financial accounts. Just make sure you have a stable WiFi connection and a space where you can hold your video calls without disturbing noises. 

Start-up costs

Starting up a new business will likely come with at least some costs that you need to consider. Common startup costs for self-employed bookkeepers could be:

  • A computer or laptop
  • Back up hard drives
  • Bookkeeping or accounting software to make life easier for you and your clients, such as Countingup.
  • A printer and printing paper
  • Postage costs
  • Storage cabinets
  • Marketing costs like paid advertising
  • An additional telephone line

You can learn more about how to plan for managing startup costs in this guide.

Insurance

It’s always wise to get insurance for your bookkeeping business to protect you in case something goes awry. 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 insuranceprotects you in case a member of the public makes a claim 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 business insurance cover for affordable prices.

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 you might have more luck targeting new business startups. These companies will likely not have a bookkeeper yet and may need your expertise to help them balance their books. 

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

Marketing

A good place to start when spreading the word about your new business is to reach out to your existing network of friends, family and acquaintances. These people might need your services themselves or know someone who does.

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 you can use to create your site.

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 your practice time on manual admin and help your clients keep organised records with Countingup’s free accounting software. It’s built specifically to help you manage your self-employed and sole trader clients.

The Countingup business current account and accounting app automates time-consuming bookkeeping admin for your clients so they can focus on running their business—and send you accurate, structured data to work from. Countingup’s 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 organised data. Find out more here.

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