Today’s work-at-home spotlight series features Randy Ballen, a full-time contract bookkeeper and owner of Ballen Bookkeeping. In this interview, Randy shares with us how she started her business at age 50 and how Ben Robinson’s Bookkeeper Launch course helped her begin a new chapter in life!
She also lends some insight on what it takes to be successful in the virtual bookkeeping biz, the benefits of working mostly from home, and the importance of networking as an introverted business owner.
Read on, and you might get a better idea of what a bookkeeping business entails and if it’s something you’d like to explore yourself!
Can you describe a little of your background and how you got started working from home?
I spent decades working in retail management, which is where I was first exposed to the financial aspects of running a business.
In the 10 years before starting Bookkeeper Launch, I was working as a bookkeeper and studio manager for a dance studio. During that time, I always kept a part-time bookkeeping job. Just before my 50th birthday, a variety of things happened that led me to believe it was time for a major life change.
I knew I wanted to work remotely and have the freedom to create a different kind of life for myself. I never dreamed that would include owning my own business.
Why did you choose bookkeeping as your business?
I had been working as a bookkeeper prior to taking Bookkeeper Launch and knew I loved it, though at the time I thought I was looking for a remote bookkeeping position working for someone else.
I didn’t think I had it in me to run my own business and I thought I wanted the security of a job but as I looked at jobs paying $12/hour I knew I needed to do something different. I realized there really is no such thing as job security anymore so why not rely on myself. The program gave me enough direction and practical help to make me see that this was completely doable.
As a bookkeeper do you mainly just keep your clients’ financial records straight or is there more to it than that?
With all the new technologies, that is a very small part of the job. I offer more of a partnership. My job is to help business owners better understand the financial health of their businesses. I also help them form strategies for success by analyzing their financial data. There is nothing more exciting than watching my clients’ businesses grow.
What is the best part of working from home and what is the hardest part?
Being my own boss is the best! I love that I get to work only with people I enjoy working with and that I follow my own schedule. Working in my pajamas is pretty great too!
Sometimes it is a challenge to turn it off, to make sure I have dedicated personal time without feeling guilty. But I have learned this is essential to running a successful business.
What kind of skills do you need to be a successful bookkeeper?
You definitely need attention to detail, but I really think the most important thing is to want to do a good job. Bookkeeping is more art than science and there is often more than one correct way to do things.
You have to be curious enough to dig into things and keep digging till you get everything sorted out correctly.
How do you go about finding bookkeeping clients?
For me, in-person and virtual networking has been the most successful way to find clients. I am an introvert and it was not easy to put myself out there but the course was amazingly helpful in teaching me how to approach it in a way that was more comfortable to me than going out to sell my virtual bookkeeping services.
I have met all sorts of interesting people this way, and many have become clients, referrals partners, and friends. I also have a website, a Facebook business page, a Google My Business page, LinkedIn, and Instagram accounts. I also participate in several Facebook groups. You cannot rely on just one way to get clients.
Has it been a challenge to find clients?
It is definitely something you have to work at. In the beginning, I networked A LOT. I networked like it was my job because at that time it was. But once I was up and running, I was able to slow down a bit and find some balance.
Do you work from home exclusively, or is it a side hustle?
My bookkeeping business is my full-time job, though I do work on-site for a couple of my accounts.
Do you think bookkeeping can be a profitable work-from-home career? Has it allowed you to achieve your own financial goals?
Bookkeeping can most definitely be a profitable work-from-home career! In my first year, I began getting clients in April and was still able to match my income from the previous year.
This year, I will more than double that. This business will not only allow me to achieve my financial goals, but it has also led me to new and improved ones!
What advice do you have for individuals who are considering working as a bookkeeper from home?
For me, Bookkeeper Launch has been life-changing. Whether you want a side hustle for some extra income or to build a mini-empire, starting your own virtual bookkeeping business can allow you to achieve that.
Thank you, Randy!
Does virtual bookkeeping sound like something that might be for you? Maybe these virtual bookkeeping FAQs can help you decide:
Have you ever thought about starting your own bookkeeping mini-empire or making a major life change to work at home? Let us know your thoughts and questions in the comments below!