Do you want to be a bookkeeper?

I received a query last week from someone in our network looking for advice on how to start a bookkeeping business. The answer isn’t short but it did get me thinking about how I ended up on this journey and I would like to share it {short version – I am known to ramble}.  I am a working mum. One of the greatest pleasures in my life is having the flexibility to be able to take my kids to school, drive them to their multitude of activities and be around in the school holidays.  That’s not to say I always do it, my husband is a pretty good taxi service!

The bookkeeping industry is flourishing at the moment. Many accountants are building alliances with trusted bookkeepers so they can focus on more structure and advisory tasks for their clients.  This is an excellent field for parents who would like to stay at home with their kids. Bookkeeping is my favourite business task because I can work around my kids and adapt as they grow.  It has been my sanity by giving me something to focus on during those mushy toddler years.  Now we are well and truly out of the toddler age, I’m thankful for the little steps I took to build the business even if I couldn’t see it at the time!  And with cloud accounting now in the picture, it’s even better!

How long it takes you is all up to YOU!  I come from a financial background so the transition was logical, however as you know, parenthood has its moments and the thoughts of building a business get jumbled up with the daily grind of bringing up a young family.  It doesn’t matter how long it takes you, one step at a time is all you need and it will be worth it in the end!  If I add:

  • 1 year to think about bookkeeping as a business;
  • 1 year to complete my Cert IV in Financial Services Bookkeeping;
  • 3 years of building a client base through word of mouth and get my BAS registration;
  • 6 months to think about getting my Xero Certification;
  • 6 months thinking I really should get a website; and
  • 6 months to actually launch the site into the public domain

Wow that’s 6 ½ years! Could I have done it faster?  Of course.  But it hasn’t been hard or cumbersome.  Each step has been as my children take extra steps.  My business is like an extra child, growing as my children grow.  Growing as I grow.  There is no fast or slow, it’s all about you and when you’re ready.

If you would like to know how to become a bookkeeper here is a snapshot of the steps to take:

Step 1: Do you really want to be a bookkeeper?

First determine whether you actually like bookkeeping! Don’t do it for the sake of it.  If you really hate numbers, it just might not be a good fit!  Speak to some fellow bookkeepers, read about what is required, look at job advertisements and see if you picture yourself in that field of work.  We offer online assessments that can let you know what industries you’re suited for.  Contact me to find out more.

Step 2: Get qualified

Dabble in a MYOB or Xero short bookkeeping course to give you a feel for what it will be like. You will learn something even if you don’t continue so it won’t be a waste of time.  If it’s still a dream or you already have basic bookkeeping experience; get qualified with the either of the following courses.  These can be done online which is super helpful for parents with young families.

  • Certificate IV in Bookkeeping; or
  • Certificate IV in Financial Services (Accounting).

There is a very fine line between a bookkeeper and BAS Agent. You are required by law to be a BAS Agent when offering BAS services.  These two accredited courses contain the minimum qualification components for registered BAS Agents (as per the Tax Practitioners Board).  You can provide bookkeeping without being a BAS Agent but it is limiting.  Therefore my advice is to have it as a goal to become a BAS Agent when you start your journey.

Step 3: What accounting system to use?

The more systems you know the better, however become an expert in one to start with. I have experience in Xero, MYOB and Quickbooks Online but I learnt one at a time purely based on what my client’s needs were.  My focus is now on cloud bookkeeping to allow me to reduce travel time, work flexible hours and attract clients not based on location, they can be on the other side of the city and it doesn’t matter!

Step 4: Work Experience & BAS Agent

Anyone who is thinking about starting their own bookkeeping business in Australia needs to be aware of the rules regarding BAS Agents, who are eligible to provide Business Activity Statement services for a fee. Any bookkeeper wanting to provide BAS services must be registered as a BAS Agent. To become a registered BAS Agent, a bookkeeper must have 1400 hours of experience and a minimum qualification of a Certificate IV in Bookkeeping or Accounting.

Step 5: Get certified with your accounting package of choice

Once you are a BAS agent, the accounting software companies like Xero, MYOB and Quickbooks do provide bookkeeping memberships that give you additional training and support. You can become aligned to either of these companies and get certified as a partner or advisor.  This is not absolutely necessary to launch your business but it does add credibility to your portfolio and shows you have the gumption to get through the extra training and tests!

So if you have done all these things. There is absolutely no reason why you cannot launch your own bookkeeping business!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *