What does it take to become a bookkeeper? There are a lot of people wanting to get into bookkeeping right now because it’s something that you can do from home. You can certainly make a lot more money as an independent bookkeeper having your own bookkeeping business rather than working for somebody else. However, it’s not necessarily something that you can just jump right into just because you decide that you’re going to be a bookkeeper. You need bookkeeper training. You need to understand the basics of bookkeeping, of accounting, and even have some tax knowledge in order to be able to serve a client properly. You need to also understand that bookkeeping isn’t just something easy that you can do without any training or experience. Bookkeeping can actually be difficult. Not necessarily because bookkeeping itself is difficult, but because we are working with clients whose books are usually not very clean.
In order for you to become a successful bookkeeper, not only do you need to understand and know how to do bookkeeping, but you also have to then (fairly quickly) learn how to clean up clients books. This is the equivalent, in some ways, of doing a surgery. Imagine that you’re a brand new doctor and suddenly you have to do a surgery. That may be something that you don’t have that much experience in. You’d need some practical training first. It’s the same with bookkeeping, you need to look at investing in bookkeeping training. This can be from your local community college, for example, or a bookkeeping online training school, or look for other ways of getting bookkeeping training.
Training is a must, but training doesn’t get you there all the way because then you need some practical experience. If you have never done any bookkeeping, then I want to encourage you to first actually get a job in bookkeeping by working for an accountant, a bookkeeper, or working at a company doing some accounting and bookkeeping tasks. You need to get some experience and to see some real world transactions and see how a business actually runs.
The other thing that you need to consider is that learning bookkeeping isn’t enough. You need to understand the accounting and bookkeeping technology that you’ll be working with. If that’s QuickBooks, for example, then you need to decide if it will be QuickBooks Online (the cloud based version), or QuickBooks Desktop (the desktop version of QuickBooks). There are different versions of each, so you have to then decide, which one you will be proficient at. Certainly QuickBooks Online is a whole lot easier to set up a virtual bookkeeping business with because it’s a cloud based software. But, it’s not something that you can just jump right into. Let’s say you know how to drive a regular car, that doesn’t mean you know how to drive a race car. QuickBooks Online is like a race car, you have to learn how to drive the race car before you can just dive right in and do it.
Another thing to consider is that when you are starting a bookkeeping business, you are starting an actual business. That means that if you don’t have any knowledge of running a business, then you also need to learn and get experience in running your own business. That starts from determining the kind of entity (the legal and tax entity) that you will use to set up your business. It also involves having a plan for what your business will be or will look like in the future – having a business plan. Considering whether you will remain a solo bookkeeper or whether in the future you would add employees or contractors. Those are all things that you need to think about as you think about setting up your bookkeeping business. Also, even though there are no certifications that you are required to have as a bookkeeper in the United States, and just because it seems easy to get into bookkeeping, keep in mind again, that it can be difficult. You have to learn the technology as well as learning how to do bookkeeping.
Lastly, you also have to consider the role of a bookkeeper. In my opinion, doing bookkeeping and accounting is a very, very important role in a business and it’s not something to be taken lightly, because you are dealing with that business owner’s finances. It affects their taxes. It affects whether they’re able to make good decisions for their business based on the financial reports that you are working on. It affects whether they can grow their business. Again, all based on the financial data that they are getting out of their accounting system. Keep in mind that if you’re the bookkeeper, you’re the one who has a lot of control over what that financial data and those reports look like. It’s not something to be taken lightly! In my mind, it’s a great responsibility and a great calling for me, as an accountant, to make sure that my clients books are accurate – and not just accurate, but also delivered timely and correctly. So, I hope this helps you to understand what all it takes to become a bookkeeper and to have a successful bookkeeping business.
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