So you’ve made up your mind and decided to pursue a future as a freelance bookkeeper! Becoming a freelance bookkeeping could lead to a lucrative future, but you will be entering a very competitive marketplace so what can you do to ensure your success? Here are a few tips to get you started:
As a freelancer your knowledge and skills will determine your success, so you need to ensure that you have undergone extensive professional bookkeeping training. Your potential clients will be providing you with sensitive financial information about their businesses, and investing in professional bookkeeping training assures them that you are a knowledgeable and trustworthy individual that produces results. You should also consider investing in a professional bookkeeping qualification such as the ICB, IAB or AAT which will really improve your marketability in a competitive marketplace.
Your long term as a freelance bookkeeper depends on your ability to become an expert advisor to your clients. One of the key things which will make you stand out in a competitive marketplace is your image as an expert bookkeeper that can help clients understand and make the most out of their accounts. An expert advisor doesn’t just perform bookkeeping tasks for their clients, they are relied upon to provide their expert knowledge and opinion to solving their clients bookkeeping problems. Wherever possible you should also be able to help your clients source other expert advisors for any areas which you do not provide such as Taxation and Chartered Accountancy.
Any individual attempting to go it alone as a freelance bookkeeper needs to completely understand and align their marketing efforts. Begin by defining your target clients: - are you going to specialise in providing to a certain sector, within certain geographical locations, or will you only target UK SMEs? Understanding the needs and requirements of your target market helps you define the best way to market your freelance bookkeeping services to them. Understanding your target market also helps you to understand your competitors, and gives you the opportunity to analyse and adapt your offering to ensure that you are immediately differentiated from your competitors. Wherever possible you should also work with professionals to create your marketing collateral, which could include business cards, a website, brochures, leaflets and even press releases. Professional graphic designers, copywriters and marketers will understand your goals and objectives and communicate them to your intended audience in a professional, engaging and results driven way.
As a fresh freelancer in a crowded marketplace you need to do all you can to develop your portfolio. Call upon any personal or professional connections you have to see if you can assist them with their bookkeeping processes. You should also consider taking any fee (within reason!) for your first freelance bookkeeping client. Once you have got your “foot in the door” you can begin to justify charging your full fees because you will have demonstrated the true quality of your work. Try charging a new client an introductory offer, where you slash your hourly rate for an introductory period of 30 days or so (depending on their requirements) before asking for an incremental raise. Although bookkeeping is a very competitive market, good bookkeepers who are expert advisors are often in very short supply and if you provide quality work which meets with your clients’ expectations they will never let you go.
Becoming a professional freelance bookkeeper isn’t easy, but provided you have the enthusiasm, knowledge and relevant bookkeeping training you are starting on the right track. Within the UK there are many initiatives which are geared towards providing professional advice to new business, as a starting point why nor check out what Business Link have to offer.
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