Virtual Bookkeeping is one of the most in-demand services in the world, with experienced business-owners earning upwards of $60/hour. Virtual bookkeepers also get to work on their schedule and make great money working either part-time or full-time hours.
Opportunities for work are bountiful as every business needs to balance the books, and more small businesses are outsourcing the work because it saves them time and maximizes their resources. Believe it or not, you do not need a university degree or any previous bookkeeping experience to become a successful virtual bookkeeper!
Sounds like the perfect business, doesn't it?
If you're wondering how to become a bookkeeper with no previous experience, this interview with Ben Robinson, CPA, and creator of Bookkeeper Launch (previously known as Bookkeeper Business Launch), is just what you need to read!
In this interview, Ben talks about what a bookkeeper does and how it can complement the life of a stay-at-home mom. He also delves into what his free, interactive bookkeeping course entails which can help you decide if it's something you'd like to explore further!
Take it away, Ben!
Ben, Could you give us a little history and tell us how training bookkeepers became your present mission?
I've been a CPA since 1999. From 2001 until early 2015, I owned two accounting firms. One of my main focuses within those firms was helping businesses take care of their bookkeeping. A lot of – actually most – business owners struggle with keeping accurate and up-to-date bookkeeping records.
Of course, I wanted to help business owners with their bookkeeping as it was a great opportunity for me. However, I knew I needed a team of great bookkeepers to get the work done. What I soon discovered is the fact that great bookkeepers are hard to find. And, when I did find a great bookkeeper, they were buried with clients and had a waiting list of business owners that wanted them to serve them.
Not being one to accept defeat, I sat out to train my own great bookkeeping staff. For over 10 years, I developed a program that helped raise up great bookkeepers. I am passionate about helping business owners and bookkeeping is critical to their success. Matching these business owners to great bookkeepers is something I really enjoy doing. After I sold my firm in January 2015, I decided my life's business purpose was to help train and equip an Army of 10,000 great bookkeepers who will serve 250,000 business owners.
We throw so many words around without really knowing what they mean – what exactly does a bookkeeper do?
That is a great question and one I get asked a lot. Bookkeepers can serve business owners in many ways.
At the core of a great bookkeeper's service offering is: 1) recording, classifying and reconciling financial transactions; 2) preparing financial reports and 3) helping to maintain bookkeeping sanity within the business! That last one is the oddball and can take on many forms beyond basic bookkeeping.
Some additional services bookkeepers may offer include: accounts payable (bill pay) management/accounts receivable (invoicing) management/payroll / financial analysis/budgeting / financial benchmarking…and the list goes on and on.
Is this something that a stay-at-home mom can do in her limited amount of time? Is it a flexible job?
The short answers are “yes” and “yes”. However, you have to make sure that you structure your business to be able to work the business with a limited amount of time and to make it flexible.
“Traditional” bookkeepers (as opposed to “virtual” bookkeepers we train) have little flexibility with the job. We teach the opposite approach helping people to start and grow a successful, flexible and VIRTUAL bookkeeping business. Setting the bookkeeping business up the right way leads to a flexible situation in which the bookkeeper controls every aspect of their business including where they work, when they work and with whom they work.
Realistically, what is the minimum amount of time you would need to devote to this on a daily basis? Could a mom with a small baby or several children start doing this for just an hour a day?
This is a great full- or part-time business. That being said, it would be difficult for someone to work one hour per day, five hours per week and keep the business viable. I suggest, at a minimum, that someone has 12-15 hours per week to devote to their bookkeeping business.
Is this a real career or is it more like those typing or data entry work-from-home jobs that pay a pittance?
One point that I drive home to my students is that bookkeeping is a PROFESSION. Done right, bookkeepers are to be RESPECTED as true PROFESSIONALS.
Great bookkeepers are invaluable to business owners. Most of the time, they are viewed as the business owners' most trusted adviser. The reason is simple: great bookkeepers provide real VALUE to business owners. As with anything, those that provide value are compensated for their work and dedication. Bookkeepers are the same in this regard.
Bookkeeping is a respectable profession. It's been around hundreds of years. It's always in demand (every business is REQUIRED to keep bookkeeping records). It's a real career and – more important to my students – it's a real BUSINESS. Career means golden handcuffs: someone directing your action. A business means YOU are in control.
Can you make a decent income doing this part-time?
Absolutely! If done the right way, a great bookkeeper should earn $60+ per hour once they are established and familiar with their craft of bookkeeping. I know of no other business that requires no formal education, no large investment and no full-time commitment that can yield such great results. Part or full time; this is a great, in-demand business.
Another great aspect is that a stay-at-home mom could start part-time and then move to full-time once her kids were older. By becoming a true “great” bookkeeper, she will have no problems gaining all the clients she wants. The only limiting factor is the amount of time she can dedicate to running the business.
Is it hard to get clients and have a steady workflow?
I sound like a broken record but it is worth repeating: not if done the RIGHT way. Great bookkeepers are magnets to business owners. Regular bookkeepers are not. If you set up a traditional bookkeeping business and are a mediocre/average bookkeeper, it is more difficult to get clients and have a steady workflow.
However, great bookkeepers have all the clients they want and their workflow is consistent throughout the year. Clients must have their bookkeeping done on a monthly basis which means bookkeepers have work month after month.
But, you must go about getting clients in the proper manner. Old school marketing and sales tactics are just that: old school. Worn out. Ineffective.
Our training teaches the right way to develop a marketing SYSTEM that delivers clients: as many or as few as you want.
Do you ever have to go meet clients or can you do everything from home?
For great bookkeepers who provide a virtual service: everything can be done from your home or your local coffee shop…it's YOUR call.
As I mentioned previously: traditional bookkeepers do NOT have this flexibility of working from home. In that case, the bookkeeper must meet clients.
I teach my students how NOT to serve clients based on their geographical location.
What kind of skills do you need? Do you need to have previous bookkeeping or accounting experience?
To start your own bookkeeping BUSINESS you need to know: a) bookkeeping and b) business and marketing specific to bookkeeper services.
And, you do NOT need to have any previous bookkeeping or accounting experience in order to be a great bookkeeper. In fact, of the 117 great bookkeepers I've trained to date, less than 10% of them had ANY previous experience in bookkeeping.
What I have learned is that great bookkeepers – who go on to start and grow successful bookkeeping businesses – share some common characteristics. I share all about these in the first free training class. Not everyone is cut out to be a bookkeeper. I share the good and the bad as well as the character traits they need so that they can determine, for themselves, if this is something they should pursue.
What do you need besides a laptop and an internet connection to get started?
Those are two of the main pieces of technology needed to start a bookkeeping business. The other item is a reliable scanner as all the work you perform will be shared over the internet.
There are other pieces of technology and software that is critical to a great bookkeeper's success. In fact, the second free training session goes through EVERY one of these pieces of technology and software.
How much do you need to invest in order to start this business?
Not a lot! Most of the pieces of technology most people already own (as previously discussed). The biggest investment is in training and time to devote to becoming a skilled, great bookkeeper. The actual dollar figure can vary but most people can get started for around $1,500. Of course, as you grow you will need additional technology and software. However, most of the time, you pass these costs along to your clients!
Could you give a brief idea of your course and how much time a mom would have to put into it to be ready to become a bookkeeper and start her own bookkeeping business?
Here is my recommended plan for moms (or anyone else) who are serious about exploring starting their own bookkeeping business.
First, attend all three of our free training sessions. These training sessions are all content (no marketing or sales) and give a thorough, candid overview of bookkeeping as a professional business. I design these classes so that my students can determine – for themselves – if they are a good fit for this business model.
Each of the classes is 45 minutes to one hour. You need to view them all at least one time and some possibly twice or more. You also need to do the exercises I give during the classes as this is soul-searching time for you.
However, the time you INVEST attending the free training and self-evaluating can yield a great return both financially and professionally.
Thank you, Ben!
There is no course like Ben's that teaches you exactly how to become a bookkeeper with no experience! While starting any new business is a big decision, if you're serious about making it work then we can think of no better place to start than with Bookkeeper Launch.
The first step is to check out the free intro course that, in addition to the topics mentioned in the interview above, also covers:
- the difference between good and great bookkeepers
- the mindset you need in this business
- a peek into a real bookkeeping business
- feedback from a successful graduate of the course
- and more
You can read a review on his full 10-week course if you are interested in more details.
Have you been wondering how to become a virtual bookkeeper even with no previous experience? Do you have any questions that weren't answered in this interview? We want to hear what they are, so fire away in the comments!