9 Skills You'll Need to Start
Your Own Bookkeeping Business

See also: Making Sense of Financial News

Having all of the skills necessary to be a stellar bookkeeper and running a successful bookkeeping business are two completely different things. Those who want to go into business for themselves in this field need to have an understanding of how the accountant trade works, as well as the savvy to attract and retain customers.

If you're thinking of finally taking the plunge and starting your own bookkeeping business, then you'll want to work on gaining the following skills.

Bookkeeper working at a desk with a calculator and computer.

1. Networking with Others

Quite possibly the most important skill for those starting their own bookkeeping business to learn is the ability to network. Accountants who work for someone else usually don't have to create their own personal social networks, but business owners do. Building a professional network of like-minded individuals who can provide advice and share knowledge isn't easy, and for those unaccustomed to running their own business it can feel almost impossible at times. Nevertheless, those who can overcome this challenge will soon find that everything else tends to fall into place after they do.

2. Business Negotiation

Much like networking, this may potentially be an alien skill to those who've never had the opportunity to run their own business before. It's important to be able to negotiate with clients who might be cautious about working with any one particular bookkeeping operation. At the same time, these skills can actually help when it comes time to speak with coworkers or discuss terms with potential hiring candidates. Developing negotiation skills may even be a great way to build self-esteem, which will quickly become extremely important when it comes time to buckle down and start attracting customers who need their accounts looked over.

3. Cloud Computing Prowess

Nearly all accounting workflows somehow involve digital technology these days. Individuals who are learning how to start a bookkeeping business will probably want to add some cloud computing-related topics to their repertoire. Accountants use an unfathomable number of cloud-based office applications, and it's likely that on-premise financial software deployment could very well become a thing of the past in many operations. In order to remain competitive with other organizations that use these tools, it's important to have at least a basic understanding of how they work and the best way to use them.

4. Information Security

In order to keep all of that technology working, it's important to understand relevant security issues as well as operational ones. As online threats continue to change and evolve, it's important for those who work in the field to have at least some understanding of cybersecurity-related issues so they can properly secure valuable financial data. Being able to keep accounting and system software up-to-date is of vital importance because the risk of data breaches in a bookkeeping organization is growing all the time. A single release of customer data can be absolutely devastating to a firm that works in this field.

5. Investigative Talents

Various branches of bookkeeping emphasize different investigative skills. For instance, individuals who want their organizations to specialize in forensic accountancy might want to emphasize their ability to evaluate evidence and draw conclusions. Those who work with tax documents or plan to help indebted clients will want to learn more about how to spot potentially costly mistakes. Growing bookkeeping companies will probably run into people who need all of these services, so it may be a good idea to master multiple disciplines if at all possible. Naturally curious individuals might find that they're more than capable of parlaying their interests into skills that are valuable in the financial space.

6. Money Management

There's a big difference between being able to manage someone else's accounts and being able to sit down and see where all of your own funds are going. Accountants have a background in this field, which should make them excellent business owners. Unfortunately, it's easy to forget that they have expenses too. Learning more about how to save money and the best way to implement cash flow optimization strategies will go a long way toward ensuring that any new business venture remains solvent regardless of what's going on with the economy as a whole.

7. Legal and Administrative Skills

Individual bookkeepers, whether they're independent or work in someone else's employ, have to understand the legal ramifications of managing someone else's accounts. Those who run an actual bookkeeping business that's registered with all of the relevant authorities have to be especially cautious, since they're potentially liable for any miscalculations suffered by any member of their clientele. Different locales have different laws as well, so it's important to understand the rules connected with every area that a business offers services in. Those who don't have a legal background will need to spend some time reviewing this kind of material before they proceed.

8. Marketing and Sales

Many people wouldn't immediately think of marketing skills when it comes to running a bookkeeping business, but it's important to be able to reach customers and get a message out to them. Anyone who wants to build up a clientele will have to be able to explain the advantages of their service and share more information about why potential clients would want to work with them as opposed to managing their accounts on their own. Working on these skills can also help individuals learn more about what it takes to communicate with customers even after they've already bought into the brand.

9. Reputation Management

The journey doesn't end once people have decided to work with a particular brand. Any business is only as  good as its reputation, so those who manage companies that provide bookkeeping services will have to learn how to build their reputation and maintain it over the long haul. Companies that compete in this space offer some particularly demanding challenges to those who are only getting started with the concept of brand management, since accountancy firms that have a reputation for making numerical mistakes tend to find it very difficult to ever shake the image.

About the Author

Philip Piletic: My primary focus is a fusion of technology, small business, and marketing. I’m a writer, marketing consultant and guest author at several authority websites. You can reach me over LinkedIn.