There is a huge market for freelance accountants. After all, every business owner – big or small – needs to keep accurate books. If you have the education and skills, many work from home accounting jobs await. Here is what you need to know about getting started and becoming successful.
Establishing Clientele in the World of Freelance Accounting
If you have decided to go ahead and try to establish yourself as a freelance accountant, building a client list is likely your top priority. In order to do so successfully, you need to understand how to market yourself and your services effectively, what the workflow process actually is, and how to prepare the reports every client will want to view. Let’s take a look at these requirements in more detail:
- Marketing Yourself as a Freelance Accountant – The best way to do this successfully is by understanding the value and benefit that you offer to your clients. Come up with a pitch that emphasizes the benefits accurate accounting can bring to their business. Show them how understanding the cash flow between debtors, creditors, customers, and the government can be analyzed to help make shrewd business decisions.
- Understand Your Workflow Process – While every account will be slightly different, you will find that for most of your clients, the same basic process will be followed. Their bookkeeping consists of creating and tracking invoices, disbursing the funds to their appropriate accounts, and then making payments to either payroll or vendors, depending on the individual transaction. As a side note, don’t forget to set aside enough money to pay taxes at the end of the year; a self-employed individual’s earnings are not usually subject to withholding like a normal paycheck is.
- Creating Reports – For most basic accounting work, clients will only need to see a few simple documents. Typically, this will be their general ledger, balance sheet, profit and loss statement, and income statement. You should familiarize yourself with the content and purpose of these documents, and learn how to accurately and quickly prepare them for clients, as they will be some of your most frequently used tools as a freelance accountant.
Obtaining Client Information – No Longer A Major Challenge for Freelance Accountants
If you have experience in any industry where you depend on clients providing accurate information to you in a timely manner, you know how difficult achieving this can actually be. This tendency is even worse for those looking for work as a freelance accountant, since you literally can do nothing without access to the correct documents and data that you need to begin your calculations.
However, certain software programs and packages can make life easier. There are some that directly assist you with accounting tasks, others that facilitate the transfer of information between you and your clients, and others that just facilitate communication in general. Let’s take a look at four software programs that should be in the toolbox of any freelance accountant:
- QuickBooks – The great thing about QuickBooks accounting software from Intuit is that it is compatible with many other third party programs, and has relatively robust data import and export features. This means that no matter what your client is able to provide you, you can likely rework it into some format which QuickBooks can use to automate the process, saving you significant amounts of time.
- Shoeboxed – This tool helps turn paper documents into a scanable and searchable archive that is suitable for use as IRS documentation. Encouraging your clients to use this program, or doing so yourself using their paper documents, is a fantastic way to help keep their accounting data streamlined and up to date.
- Dropbox – This is a free file sharing program that mimics the file structure of a hard drive, yet is stored completely on the cloud. You can share access to created directories, which makes passing back digital archives, PDFs, pictures, document scans, or other digital files which you may use as a freelance account quick and easy.
- Skype – Skype is a free to use communications platform that operates similar to a telephone combined with text messaging. The big advantage of using Skype is that nearly everyone is on it world-wide, meaning that you can use it to connect with potential clients no matter where they are from or do business.
Many women come from an administrative or accounting background making work at home bookkeeping jobs highly sought after though sometimes not so easy to find. There are a number of companies that offer home-based accounting jobs with varying levels of experience required however.
Companies Offering Work at Home Accounting Jobs
AccountingDepartment.com hires CPAs with five year’s experience and general bookkeepers with a minimum of year’s experience in Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, payroll and general admin duties. Some travel or in-house hours may be required.
Bateman & Co. specializes in tax preparation for individuals, partnerships and corporations. Positions are permanent and Texas residents are preferred. Three year’s experience in public accounting is mandatory.
Bookminders offers both part-time and full-time positions to accountants. A bachelor’s degree and five year’s experience required. In-person meetings with local clients may be required.
First Data has work at home positions available frequently. Experience is based on the position.
Intuit offers seasonal and permanent tax support positions to remote workers. In this position you will be assisting callers with tax return preparation. You must be a CPA, enrolled agent or tax attorney to qualify for these job openings.
Nationwide Loan Processing has work at home positions available to loan processors with 3-5 year’s experience. Underwriting positions are also available.
OSI Business Services hires bookkeepers with a minimum 4 year’s experience and CPAs. A QuickBooks test is required.
TAD has work at home openings available to accountant, bookkeepers and tax preparers living in the U.S.
United Healthcare occasionally offers telecommute Accounting Clerk positions. They require a minimum high school diploma and two year’s experience.
Don’t limit yourself to the above list. Many accounting and bookkeeping jobs can easily be transitioned to work at home. Many telecommuters in this field have started out in a traditional office setting and moved their position to a home office.
You also should not overlook going into business for yourself if time and financial freedom are your ultimate work at home goals. There are so many freelancers, bloggers and home business owners that don’t have the knowledge or desire to keep their own books. With today’s digital world the transfer of files between parties can be easy and secure. You may even be able to find a few clients in your local community in need of your services.