The gig economy isn’t just for creatives anymore, more and more professionals are turning to freelancing because it fits their needs and lifestyle. Freelance accountants offer an in-demand skill and subsequently have the potential to be successful solopreneurs. As a freelance accountant you can work with small businesses who cannot afford to hire full-time accountants. Your duties might include tallying accounts on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, calculating tax returns, drafting financial statements, making sure companies are abiding by financial laws, and recording data related to profit/loss/tax/sales etc. Thanks to online accounting software an accountant working on their own can do all the tasks that it used take a whole team (and plenty of paperwork) to do. Here are some steps you can take if you’re thinking about becoming a freelance accountant.
Get the Proper Qualifications:
In order to be a trustworthy accountant that businesses will hire, you need to have the proper qualifications. The journey to becoming an accountant usually starts with a Bachelor’s degree in accounting or a business degree. Majoring in finance, economics, business, statistics or similar fields is suitable. Learning how to use financial software is also a must. In order to attain proper certification in your country, you should verify if your degree offers the sufficient number of training hours in accounting if that is a requirement for certification. Proper certification to be an accountant is a little different in every country, in Canada you would become a Chartered Professional Accountant, in America that is called a Certified Public Accountant, the UK has Associate Chartered Accountants and Australia has Certified Practicing Accountants; check out the certification and the requirements to obtain it for your jurisdiction. While studying in order to achieve certification, you might also choose a sub-specialization such as public, management, internal, government accounting or internal auditing.
An apprenticeship or internship might be required to obtain the proper certification in your country, so you may already be on your way to being an experienced accountant by the time you acheive certification. Before striking out on your own as a freelance accountant you need to get some experience so that businesses will hire you. It might be a good idea to work for a couple years in a traditional setting in order to gain the experience you need to become a freelancer. You could also consider doing some accounting as a volunteer for a charitable organization or NPO while you’re a student to gain some experience.
Make a Business Plan:
In order to be a successful freelance accountant for the long haul, you’re going to need a plan. Making a business plan seems daunting and complicated but it doesn't have to be. There are a few step-by-step guides available online and plenty of books written on the subject. An easy way to get started is to outline your short term, medium term, and long term goals using the S.M.A.R.T system of goal setting, in which your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. At this stage it is also time to examine your finances and determine how much work you need to do and what rate you need to charge to keep your business afloat and have you living a comfortable lifestyle. When assessing your finances, do not forget include important items your plan and budget, such as insurance and taxes. While you’re making your business plan you should think about what business license you need to operate in your area and if you need to renew your credentials annually to plan accordingly.
At this point you should think about what your accounting niche could be, it could come from accounting for a specific industry or offering specific services. You might decide on your niche based on your own experience or by identifying a need in your community. Finding your niche early on can set you up as an expert in that field and you will be better able to charge within it accordingly. When you are starting out as a freelance accountant you need to decide what type of services you’ll offer, for example you could also offer bookkeeping services, and you need to think about how you’ll charge for your services: hourly or by package rates. Small business have a tight budget so consider providing specific services for a monthly retainer or a bundle of services for a set rate. You could include packages with account reconciliations, assistance with transactions, bill payment management, and reports.
In order to get attention from potential clients, your new business will need a professional website. If you aren’t confident in your website building abilities, it might be worth it to hire a fellow freelancer to do it for you. Or you can check out some online resources for advice and guidance, but whatever you do: be sure that your website is professional looking and includes an explanation of your services, experience and credentials to entice clients to hire you. Your website should make clear what type of accounting you do and what kind of services you offer. A good business website includes the following: what it is that you do, what makes you stand-out from others who also do what you do, where you are located, what your rates are, how you can be reached, as well as a few personal touches to draw people in.
When you’re just starting out as a freelancer, you can add your profile to freelance marketplaces to help clients find you easily. When using these type of sites, it might be tempting to lower your rate in order to get more jobs. Once more clients can find you, you will get more jobs; the more jobs you get, the more in-demand you will become and the higher you can raise your rate. However, do not get stuck in the habit of working for low pay and selling yourself short, offering services too cheaply is bad for business, feel free to say no to poorly paying jobs.
Anyone starting out in business knows that importances of networking, get out there and start connecting people. Let everyone from friends and family to former colleagues know what you are up to by sharing your progress across appropriate channels, it’s time to get serious about linking your social media to your business. Once your business website is up and running, be sure to include links to it on your social media platforms. Aside from cultivating your online presence, you should have business cards ready to hand out in real life when you meet prospective clients or other people who can pass your information on to someone who is looking for your services. If you’re not sure where to meet people to had out your business cards to, try attending local business events and joining local business associations.
If you already have the proper credentials and experience as an accountant and are ready to move out of the traditional workforce and into the realm of freelancing, we hope this list helps you do so. Here at Sagegroupy, the freelancer’s friend, we love to help businesses of all sizes find the freelancers they need to get tasks done; our clients might need an accountant today! Be sure to create a profile with us so that they can find you.