How to run a bookkeeping business on the road
Ever wanted to travel around the country but keep your business going? Well, it’s very much possible.
We all dream about waking up on remote beaches, sleeping under the stars and traveling to where the sun always shines – but then reality kicks in.
However, award-winning bookkeeper Carol Girvan is living the dream on the road running a First Class Accounts (FCA) franchise while touring Australia.
She told The Pulse that because of all the technology solutions now available, the dream is now more attainable than ever.
The Pulse: Becoming a nomad is a pretty brave move. What prompted the decision?
Carol: My husband suffered a health scare and it made both of us realise that life is too short not to follow your heart.
I’m a bookkeeper and can service my clients remotely (thanks to cloud accounting software), and my husband is a pharmacist who can easily pick up temporary work across Australia, so there was nothing holding us back from starting a new adventure.
The Pulse: How difficult was it to take your bookkeeping business on the road?
Carol: I’ve run an FCA franchise business in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne for 12 years.
When I made the decision to go, most of my clients were supportive because I’d been managing their accounts remotely anyway.
For them, it didn’t matter if I was in Vermont or Uluru so long as I could work on their books. I managed to retain 85 percent of my clients and handed the remainder — the ones who needed onsite assistance — over to another FCA bookkeeper.
The Pulse: What’s it like managing your business on the road?
Carol: My caravan is my house so it’s no different to working from any other home office — it’s just that mine has wheels!
Because business administration runs on a well-defined calendar, I can plan to be in places with internet connection for key dates.
For example, when I’m gearing up to complete a monthly or quarterly BAS I’ll stay in places with good reception for a couple of weeks.
If you’re disciplined, well-organised and communicate frequently with your clients then working remotely is no drama.
The Pulse: Has there been any trouble in paradise?
Carol: We’ve been travelling around Australia for two years now and the only real frustration I have is the cost of mobile data!
It’s very annoying because if I still had a fixed property, with a landline, it would cost much less.
While I’m not happy about the price, the phone aerial we installed on the caravan means we get good network speed in places with reception.
Staying in touch when we travel across the top end of Australia next year is going to be a challenge, but I’m sure I’ll work it out.
The Pulse: What’s been your favourite destination so far?
Carol: That’s a tough one, but the colours and sparse beauty of the Nullarbor will stay with me forever. I also loved Coffin Bay — I can still remember the taste of the Riesling and oysters we had there!
The Pulse: What advice would you give to those tempted to follow in your footsteps?
Carol: If you’ve got an in-demand profession or a well-established business with a solid client base that allows you to work remotely, I’d say go!
However, if you’re starting a business then you might want to stay put because it’s hard winning new clients if you’re on the road.
The Pulse: Do you have any plans to come back home?
Carol: My husband and I get asked that a lot and most people don’t understand when we say: “We are home”.
We feel so happy and comfortable everywhere we go, and are inspired to continuing exploring, that we don’t feel a pang to return and lay down roots in one place.
Australia is a huge place filled with such amazing culture, history and people that we don’t see ourselves getting bored or needing to nest anytime soon.
Carol has over 12 years of bookkeeping experience and is one of few to have won a First Class Accounts ‘Hall of Fame’ award. Carol prides herself on providing accurate, efficient, and flexible business finance solutions that free up her clients’ time to focus on growth.