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7 steps to start a successful bookkeeping business

How to start a bookkeeping business

Starting a business isn't just about finding customers or opening an office. You’ll need to complete administrative tasks to secure funds, and select software that helps manage your business. 

1. Create a business plan

The first step when you start a bookkeeping business (or any business, for that matter) is to put together a business plan. Start with a one-page plan that covers the basics. You can then expand your plan as you build your business. 

Your business plan should outline your value proposition, target market, competitors, basic sales and marketing strategy, major milestones and funding plan. This is a lot to include on a single page, so keep each section brief.

2. Choose a business structure

Next, decide how you’ll structure your business. This determines how much you’ll pay in taxes and your level of personal liability, so it’s important to spend some time on this. 

In Australia, your business structure options include: 

Sole trader: The business owner holds all the responsibility. 

Company: The business operates as a legal entity separate from its shareholders.

Partnership: More than one person or entity runs the business, but it’s not a company.

Trust: A business that a trustee manages for a third party (usually a beneficiary).

Co-operative: A member-owned business with at least 5 members, each of whom shares control and responsibilities.

3. Tackle administrative action items

Choose a business name

You’ll need to decide on a name for your business. This is required to register your business. 

Get a tax file number 

You’ll need a tax file number (TFN) to register your business, so it’s a good idea to get one now. Applying is free.

Register your company with ASIC

Once you’ve chosen a business name, you can register your business with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). This is required if you operate under any name other than your given name.

Apply for an ABN

When you register with ASIC, you’ll need to provide your Australian Business Number (ABN). If you don’t already have one, you can apply for one here. 

Complete certifications and training

If there are any certifications you need for opening your business or attracting the clients you want, now is the time to get them. 

Purchase business insurance

Finally, line up any business insurance you need. You’ll likely want at least some sort of liability insurance.

4. Secure funding

Funding can take a variety of forms. You can go for a business loan if you think you’ll have high initial costs (like office space or staff). You can also opt for a simpler option like a business credit card if you’re working out of your home and don’t anticipate much in the way of overhead. 

5. Invest in the right bookkeeping software

The right software will make your life as a bookkeeper much easier. 

Naturally, we’d suggest the MYOB cloud accounting platform for bookkeepers. That said, there’s no shortage of options on the market today. Look for software that offers features such as payroll management, professional invoicing, automated timesheets and other tools that'll help you provide services to your clients (and manage your own business).

6. Define your ideal customer 

When starting a business, it’s tempting to want to serve every customer that comes your way. However, narrowing your focus will make it easier to market your services. 

7. Develop a marketing plan

Build a website: Having a website is non-negotiable. Make sure your site articulates your service offerings and explains how you’re different from your competitors. It’s also important to optimise your website for local search results so that it shows up when people are looking for bookkeepers. As you generate business, ask your satisfied customers to write reviews that you can include on your website.

Attend networking events: Many cities host local networking events for small business owners — some of whom may need bookkeeping services. 

Run online ads: Google, Facebook and LinkedIn ads can be effective for directing traffic to a business website. If you plan to use online ads, make sure you’re placing them on a platform that your ideal customer uses. 

Power your bookkeeping business with MYOB

Building a business is a rewarding adventure. It’s also a unique challenge. From creating your business plan, to registering a name, to securing funding, there’s no shortage of work.

Make your bookkeeping business run as smoothly as possible with MYOB. Our powerful solutions for accounting and bookkeeping can help you build a more profitable company today.

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