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Is anyone a freelance bookkeeper? Or use one?

(27 Posts)
FaintingGoat Sun 02-Sep-12 09:57:33

It's something I'm considering doing, but would really like to hear about the practicalities & realities of doing it.

I have bookkeeping experience but have only worked in fairly large companies so have done different elements at different times, never the whole lot all together. I did AAT up to Intermediate and if I do decide to go ahead with this will do Technician level through distance learning. I have no experience of payroll though, so am wondering if that would be automatically rule me out. I do also have lots of credit control experience, so could also offer this service.

I am also wondering if the kind of small businesses that wouldn't need payroll (ie sole traders / no employees) would not want to fork out for a bookkeeper.

I'm in the very early stages, it's really just an idea at the moment, I'm just trying to figure out if it's worth a shot, or a complete non-starter.

TalkinPeace2 Sun 02-Sep-12 21:07:11

www.ukbusinessforums.co.uk/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=30d4d19c161abdea4675e991ea469869&f=55

lots and lots of people have the same idea .....

FaintingGoat Sun 02-Sep-12 23:16:03

Thank you for the link smile

I know it's not exactly ground-breaking stuff, but it's a start, right?

TalkinPeace2 Mon 03-Sep-12 08:30:03

My main point is that there is LOADS AND LOADS AND LOADS of advice on that forum for people like you brave enough to try.

FaintingGoat Mon 03-Sep-12 12:50:35

Have had a quick glance and it looks packed with info, thanks, will have a good look later, when DD is in bed smile

skyebluesapphire Thu 13-Sep-12 00:31:43

I am a bookkeeper AAT qualified. It's late now but if you want some advice Im happy to help. I will check the thread tomorrow.

FaintingGoat Fri 14-Sep-12 14:04:43

Hi Sapphire and thank you.

I suppose I'm wondering whether the skills I have would be sufficient. I'm also not sure where the line is between bookkeeper and accountant, in terms of what a client would expect you to do, and what they'd expect their accountant to do. Do you prepare trading & profit / loss accounts, and fill in VAT returns? What software do you use? Do you work out of home, or from clients' offices? Do you have many clients, and how much time do you dedicate to each? Obviously it will vary, but are we talking 2 hours a week for 20 clients, or fewer clients with more hours dedicated?

To be honest I have been reading the £1000 a day and entrepreneur threads and being 50% motivated, 50% doubting my ability. I've been out of the workplace for just over a year and feel like I've forgotten everything! So if I sound like a pleb, it's because I am a bit out of touch.

Oblomov Fri 14-Sep-12 14:17:48

I currently work as a book keeper. Not freelance. I only work for one company.
I do: Bank recs, Weekly and Monthly Payroll,VAT Returns, Mgt acs, preparing y/e for Accountant.
I wonder why you are so frightened of Payroll. There really is no need to be. It is a specialised area, and people who do it are very knowledgeable. BUT, as basic book keeper, I find BASIC payroll, really really easy.
We use Sage payroll. It journals it all across to SAGE. How easy is that.

Years ago, I took a job, doing the accounts for a social club and I learnt all my 'how to do weekly payroll, on the JOB !
Whats to stop you from doing the same?
What else is stopping you from just 'giving it a go'?

skyebluesapphire Fri 14-Sep-12 18:41:44

I have 20 years experience in accountancy and AAT qualified in 2002 ish. I have regular weekly bookkeeping and regular monthly bookkeeping, some people are once a fortnight. I go out to clients offices and I also work from home.

I undertake accounts, VAT, payroll and tax returns. I do try and limit the tax return work to sole traders only to keep it simple.

Most clients, the bookkeeping encompasses the VAT. All the payroll I do at home using Moneysoft Payroll Manager, a really simple to use programme that costs me £110 plus VAT.

I use Andica tax return software, just paid £72 to be able to do 25 tax returns on it.

I use TASbooks for most of my bookkeeping clients or use Sage at their premises, or use Excel cashbooks.

Some of what I do goes on to another accountant to do the accounts and tax and some of it I do myself. I always aim to produce a complete Trial Balance at the end of the year and work with the accountants to produce this

My turnover for my first full year was £10,000 and I made a net profit of £6500. I am to increase that this year as my DD started school in September.

I find it an ideal job to work around school hours. Most of my clients are flexible and understand if I need to change a day.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 14-Sep-12 19:42:41

I used to be an ACCA (the full gory detail is on UKBF) and have been doing bits and bobs for 20 years. I'm now with ICPA.
I work when I want and make enough money to shop at Waitrose
BUT
experience is king
I can smell the odd transactions ...

FaintingGoat Fri 14-Sep-12 21:25:19

Sapphire thanks for your reply, that does help a lot. How long have you been freelance? I'm sure I'll have more questions for you soon!

Talkin I know what you mean, in past jobs when I've been trying to balance intercompany accounts or reconcile tricky bank accounts my eyes have kept on coming back to the same transactions, you just get a feeling, you KNOW something is wrong with it.

Oblomov I'm not frightened of payroll, I've just never done it, so if clients generally expect it, it might mean I don't get much work. There is nothing to stop me learning it I suppose, but at the moment I'm trying to think about what I could do right now. I've also never used Sage, which isn't going to work in my favour, but again, I can learn.

As for what is stopping me just giving it a go? I suppose it's the possibility that despite my training and experience, I'll cock it all up and make horrible mistakes that will cost my clients money and ruin my reputation, ensuring that my business falls on it's arse and the money I spend setting up will be wasted, thus damaging our family finances rather than helping them.

Logically, I know it's silly to think that way, and I should have confidence in my abilities, after all, my bosses have always been pleased with my work, I was called meticulous in my most recent appraisal, and I passed all my exams to date, first time. So it really is just me doubting myself. Really I feel a little foolish now, and think I probably should just have a go. I'm just being a big scaredy smile

skyebluesapphire Fri 14-Sep-12 21:39:37

I did Sage courses at my local college for about £60 each and I did a one day Sage Payroll course through work. I knew the software already but it was about getting the bit of paper that says I can do it.....

I also went on free courses with HMRC who showed you how to do it all on paper and then you have the background knowledge of how it all works (and are also able to do it on paper if your computer goes down!). I have been doing payroll for years. I stopped doing it when I was employed, but since being self employed, it is one of my most popular lines of business.

I was employed full time til march 2008 when I had DD. I have been self employed since around 1998, but had minimal work. I went back part time in 2009 two days a week and also started doing 2 days a week self employed as well. When I realised in 2011 that I was just getting offered more and more self employed work, it was time to jump ship, after 20 years working for the same boss, it wasnt an easy decision. But I have not regretted it.

twooter Fri 14-Sep-12 21:48:20

I'm thinking of going into this sort of line, and have been planning on doing a home learning course. I'm not sure whether to go for aat or bookkeeping though. I do know however, that I don't want to work freelance, as I really miss being in a company.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 14-Sep-12 21:55:16

Aaagh
I'm sorry but it really annoys me when people think
"ohh I'll make money doing accounts"
well yeah, you might for a year or two
but experienced bods like me make a fortune clearing up the crap you create
do 5 - 10 years BEFORE setting out alone - then you have an income

FaintingGoat Fri 14-Sep-12 22:07:13

Well you should be pleased then, Talkin.

skyebluesapphire Fri 14-Sep-12 22:09:05

yes. you cant beat experience. My friend is doing AAT by home learning, but doesnt have the first idea about debits/credits, trial balances etc. which is making it difficult for her to learn and she wants me to give her some work in order to get some practical experience too.

I started my AAT after I had been working in accounts for 7 years and it was either get a qualification and advance, or do something different. AAT was hard and I failed the third year exams twice, so I took a year out, did lots of studying and took them again and passed. i struggled with the things that I didnt do in my job, like costings etc. But you have to pass all sections to get the qualification.

I only undertake work that I am capable of doing. The AAT give me a licence to practice, but only in the areas that I am capable in, which means that I can get indemnity insurance. i have to keep my CPD up to date, which involves going on courses and reading lots of material online etc.

Most of my work is obtained by word of mouth, as I am good at what I do and have a good reputation (not being big headed, just repeating a clients words). I enjoy what I do. There is great satisfaction in turning a huge mountain of paperwork into some organised files.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 14-Sep-12 22:12:52

fainting
nope
because every arse gives all of us a bad name

FaintingGoat Fri 14-Sep-12 22:30:06

Nice. Really helpful.

skyebluesapphire Fri 14-Sep-12 22:37:55

Fainting - if its a line that you want to go into, the best thing to do would be to get a job in that line of work, get some experience behind you and then go it alone and get some qualifications along the way.

If you want it then go for it.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 14-Sep-12 22:51:52

hey fainting what did I do to rattle your cage?

FaintingGoat Fri 14-Sep-12 22:54:15

I have about six years experience in credit control, during which time I did the Pitman bookkeeping & accounts level 1 and 2, paid for myself, as I always knew that at some point I wanted to work for myself. Whilst at my last credit control job, I was seconded to the general ledger dept to cover maternity leave. They offered me a permanent job when the maternity cover was over, and I accepted, and did AAT (intermediate level). It was in this general ledger role that I did lots of bookkeeping, some work on the fixed assets registed, balance sheet reconciliations, and daily reconciling of bank accounts with 200+ transactions per day, inputting journals where necessary. Understanding the debits and credits was vital. I then moved cities and worked for a corporate service provider where I was responsible for the whole of the purchase ledger, and also involved in preparing accounts for four of the company's offices, in three different currencies.

FaintingGoat Fri 14-Sep-12 22:55:19

Talkin

bods like me make a fortune clearing up the crap you create

That.

skyebluesapphire Fri 14-Sep-12 23:00:19

Fainting - sounds like you definitely have the experience then. You just need the confidence to go it alone. You will need indemnity insurance and I think you can only get that if you have a professional qualifiaction, but I could be wrong there. I have always done mine through Trafalgar via AAT. It doesnt cost a fortune and is essential, should I ever make a mistake......

You also need Public Liability insurance - what happens if you destroy a clients computer by knocking a cup of coffee over it......

I would definitely recommend trying to finish the AAT if you can. It seems to give people confidence to use you if you have those letters after your name or indeed any letters relating to that field

FaintingGoat Fri 14-Sep-12 23:09:01

Thanks Sapphire, that's really useful information. Yes, I think it's a given that I need to finish the AAT. I will have to do that through distance learning as there are no colleges that offer it here, but that's fine, I can do that. I hadn't thought about public liability insurance, although of course it makes sense now you say it.

Nicd1981 Sat 04-Apr-15 23:31:27

Hi hun,
I know this thread is really old, but I was wandering wether you did it. Are you working for yourself now?
Im just currently starting myself and looking for some advice/ ideas.
Im AAT qualified and cima part qualified. I work as a management accountant. I just want to be here for the kids, sick of seeing them for 2 hours a day.
Ive just purchased my insurance through AXA , registered with HMRC , and secured my first client.
would love to hear how you got on, and wether youd recommend anything?
Nicola

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