Becoming a Self-Employed Book-Keeper

(17 Posts)
spikejack Fri 20-Jan-12 00:37:37


Am in a bit of a quandry, so I thought I'd just put my questions out there and see if anybody could help or advise me....

I have been doing manual Bookkeeping and Secretarial work (under the watchful eye of a Treasurer) for a local charity for the past 5 years whilst being a SAHM. Previous to that I worked in Finance and Admin full time. I did a HNC in Business Administration before having my children and one of the modules was in Management Accounting, which I did fairly well in. I have just completed a C&G in Computerised Accounting (Sage). I'm thinking that I should stop being a Childminder (don't really enjoy it and it doesn't pay the bills) and become a self employed Book-Keeper. Its not exactly my first career choice (although I have no idea what would be!) but I think it will fit around my children (school holidays, school activities etc) quite well - if I can manage my time well enough.

I have the space and facilities at home to do it, while my children are at school. (The youngest one starts in September this year and the oldest one is in Year 1). I'm about to put an ad together for our local village magazine, hoping that it might be noticed by 2 or 3 small businesses, who will allow me to work from home / on site for maybe a day a week each, or something similar.

The problem is...I'm terrified!! I don't know where to start, or wther I know enough to be let loose on finance on my own (!!) and having only worked under the scrutiny of the Treasurer for my current Secretarial post, I don't think I'm confident enough to know how good (or bad) I am at it. I have so many questions: Insurances, fees, etc etc

I'd really appreciate any feedback from anyone, if you have made this move already. Further training could be an option, but I'd rather not. After the Admin NVQ's, the HNC, Childminding course 2 years ago and then more recently the computerised Accounts course, I'm kind of fed up and just want to earn some money now :-)

I've also just looked into an ICB qualifications, which is £620 and can studied via distance learning. I just wondered whether this would be considered necessary or useful? I don't have any plans to further a Book-Keeping career into Accountancy, but want a career that will last and that is always in demand (don't we all??!!). I will do the ICB course if its considered worthwhile - just wondered if it is one of those things that they try to make you feel that you 'need' to do, just so 'they' can earn £620!!

Or maybe I'm just trying to get out of studying AGAIN...grin

OP’s posts: |
denergy Fri 20-Jan-12 08:00:39

Try contacting some accountants ..tell them what you have been doing and ask if you might be of assistance to them,,based on a retainer wage and bonus for works done???maybe.. If you do not ask you will never know...and what is the worst they can say...No...well you have heard that a thousand times,,when the children were in the terrible2/3/4/5/...good brave..your a know more about things then you think ..believe in you ..
Don't stop at the first No, just think of others..I am in the construction trade and I am confident that there are many small building companies that would be glade of you..even more so now that everyone is on contract and no longer paye.... put an add on one of the free-add-sites..also

spikejack Fri 20-Jan-12 14:42:25

Thank you so much denergy, for your words of encouragement! You've just given me a boost of confidence, which I obviously needed! Am going to spend this evening putting an ad together for the local village magazine and for the ones in nearby villages. Will also speak to the lady who runs a local Accountancy practice. She gave me a few bits of advice a month or so ago (when I asked if she thought I was crazy setting up as a book-keeper on my own) but she didn't mention needing any help BUT its always worth putting it in writing, I guess? Maybe, I'll just crack on and advertise and see what comes of it. I think I know enough about book-keeping to be getting on with it - the Institute of Chartered Book-Keepers course would be good but is fairly pricey. Probably best to see how I get on in the career first.
Thank you again for what you said - you really cheered me up :-) x

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mollymole Wed 25-Jan-12 15:52:30

As a former accountant I would always recommend the Association of Accounting Technicians Book Keeping Course or The Institute of Chartered Book-Keepers. Book Keeping from incomplete records is totally different to keeping records within an admin. situation - you do really need a decent grasp of accountancyVAT and PAYE. Do you have a local firm of accountants who would talk to you about the records that they expect from their clients, this would be a good place to start.

tjefferson Mon 06-Feb-12 22:02:35

I'm planning on starting bookkeeping when I finish maternity leave in April. I'm currently doing the L1 C&G courses in both manual and computerised bookkeeping. My idea is that I volunteer for a charity to do their books until then to get experience and also a reference. I've found one which also offers further training but who knows if I'll get it or not.

My main concern is applying for a job (and being accepted for it) and not knowing what to do as it hasn't been covered on the course. But I'll feel a bit idiotic offering just the basic skills - should I just wait until I've done the L2 course? (I need to start earning pronto!)

I also live in an area with many local, independent businesses which I'm hoping to win over, but again it's difficult when I have no experience to prove or a reference!

I might also research some local accountants and see what they can do to help me. I'm terrified I'll mess something up!

spikejack Mon 06-Feb-12 22:41:23

mollymole, thank you for that. I would like to do the ICB course as a distance learning course but thought I'd test the water first and see what the demand is. I also don't know if its something I'l be any good at (crisis of confidence at the moment) so I'm worried about paying for a course which may end up being a waste of money (and its fairly pricey), if I decide not to do it, down the line confused.

tjefferson, I know exactly what you mean.

I've been thinking the same thing. I did the C&G Level 2 course in Computerised Accounting. I wanted to do the Level 2 Manual Book-Keeping course but its not until September 2012 and I wanted to start sooner than that.

I've been doing the books for a local charity and they've said they will give me a reference, which is nice. The problem I've got is lack of confidence. I've been working under the watchful eye of Treasurer's etc for the last 10 years. But without that, I too am terrified I'll mess something up for a local business who have put their faith in me! I did speak to a local Accountancy firm and they said that you don't need to have insurance but it is a good thing to have. Also, even more so if you are submitting figures to the HMRC (for Tax Year End etc).

I've now placed an ad in my local village parish magazine and I've basically headed it 'Administration & Book-Keeping'. Nothing may come of it, but I'm hoping that maybe a small firm want some once or twice a week. My plan is to work from hom during the day while my youngest is at Pre-School for 2 and a half hours a day. Then from Oct, when I'll have 2 children at school all day, I can start working on-site. I've worked from home for the last 6 years and I want my 'home' back!

Good luck - keep me posted with how you get on :-)

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Lizcat Thu 09-Feb-12 09:09:03

I am a small business owner who employes a book keeper. I think I am typical of most small business owners (DH is a medium business owner with book keeper and is the same).
I have a tray and every bit of finacial paperwork goes in that tray I never sort it I don't look at dates I just leave it to my book keeper. I expect the bills to be paid on time and my staff to be paid on time. At the end of the month I like to get the P&L asap. I sound terrible I know, but in truth most small business owners employ a book keeper as they don't have the time for this stuff. I love my book keeper she keeps me on the straight and narrow, but hers is not an easy job.
Just thought I'd let you know what most people are looking for.


spikejack Mon 20-Feb-12 00:00:34

Thank you Lizcat, that is good to know. It is what I've always done really, dealing with all the financial bits and pieces. I think my only problem will be knowing how to charge - whether that would be a set monthly amount or per hour. Also, does your book-keeper take the paperwork away to work on it all or does she do it at your work-premises? Its great to hear a clients point of you and any advice is always fab :-)

OP’s posts: |
Pisces Mon 20-Feb-12 00:12:36

I think you should be aware that if you are self employed, if you make a mistake, your clients could sue you. Get insurance. Hiscox's are good. Either that or go limited. Self employed they could come after you personally and all your assets (house etc) - Limited company and they can only go after the company assets.

I think you should also do the manual book keeping. If you have no idea of double entry, you could potentially come unstuck.

Good luck though.

Lizcat Mon 20-Feb-12 19:52:17

Spike I am sufficently large that I actually employ my book keeper so she works on site for around 32 hours per week. DH has a bigger business, but more straightforward his book keeper works 24 hours a week, 8 hours on site and 16 hours off site and is self-employed. Both of our book keepers have limited access to the business bank accounts to do on-line payments. My book keeper is qualified to ICB standard and she does use it all and saves me thousands in accounting fees because of this.

spikejack Thu 23-Feb-12 13:12:26

Thank you all for your advice. I think the ICB is the way forward and will certainly move towards gaining the qualification. Its good to know. I was thinking that I'd get insurance as it is a comfort to potential clients as well as to me. Its not that I doubt my ability really, I suppose its just a huge, daunting thing to do, without having the 'I'll just check this with someone else' comfort blanket of a large organisation :-)
Thank you again - am now off to look into the ICB.
Sigh - more training (am feeling like a perma-student!)

OP’s posts: |
mel1965 Tue 15-Jan-13 14:05:14

I have just done a course with they not only taught me how to do bookkeeping but also how to open and run a business from home so I acn work around school hours I found the course very good and had no prior knowledge of bookkeeping before just signed up first client last week

spikejack Wed 05-Jun-13 00:06:44

mel1965 - Thank you for your post. I've recently started working as an Admin Assistant in a local Charity. The hours are 9.30-2.30 Mon-Thurs and I'm able to do just 2 full days and a half day during the school holidays.

All sounds fab doesn't it?

However, the thing that keeps tugging at my little head is "what happens if you can't attend Sports Day?" or "How, exactly, are you going to cover the THIRTEEN weeks of school holidays? I mean, really, there's being flexible but thirteen weeks??!!...". I know that this is an issue that everyone else has had to face in employment whilst also being a Mum. It's just that I've grown so used to having the luxury of going to all of the school events so I can't bear the thought of missing one :-(. I'm a bit nervous of this kind of admission as I've dipped in and out of Mumsnet over the years as it sonetimes gets a bit 'fighty'. !!

So I've been advertising in my village magazine for the past year or so and had nothing from it. I started working in my new Admin Assistant role at the end of March 2013 and in the past 2 weeks, I've had 3 people contact me to do their Book-Keeping and Admin!! I've pretty much accepted the work that they require and now I'm torn...Do I do the 'selfemployedbookkeepingcourses' thing, as you did and set myself up as a Book-Keeper from home. Or do I plod on with my current job, just crossing my fingers that I never have to ask anything unusual of them such as 'Can I leave early so that I can see the Mothers Day Assembly?'. I know this is a trivial thing in realation to the other problems in the World, but I suppose I'm just looking for advice on whether you found the online course in Book-Keeping useful and are you still a 'Book-Keeoer from Home'?

I suppose my gut feeling is that the job I have is working for the moment, pays fairly well (for an Admin Assistant job, even though I was an Office Manager before I became a Mum) and the people are nice enough. BUT none of them have children so I've yet to see how they react if I ever need time off for child illnesses.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not being pessimistic. Quite the opposite. I can see that I've got a good thing going on.
BUT its the niggling concern that they can always say "No" if I need to have the morning off to watch the Christmas Play or visit the end-of-term open afternoon. What I'd love to do (and have been promoting for a year and a half) is to be a Virtual Assistant from home. I've had business cards and flyers printed and have a Facebook Business page. But that kind of work only really starts to come in through word-of-mouth, rather than advertising in newspapers etc.

Oh, what to do, what to do?? :-)

OP’s posts: |
Virgil Wed 05-Jun-13 00:22:45

I've just set up on my own (not book keeping). The one thing I would say is that I've been in this profession (law) for many years and have a large network of contacts and clients. All my work has come from people I already know or contacts I know who have referred their clients to me. Certainly in my profession if you don't have the contacts it can be difficult to make things work with the insurance you need to carry etc. In addition people will want to know your experience and credentials.

Your own experience with the lack of response to your ad has probably shown you this (although I'm not sure your village magazine is ever going to be the best source of work!)

Perhaps you need to give it a go with these initial clients and see how it goes before leaving your job (if your employment contract allows you to do this).

spikejack Wed 05-Jun-13 22:53:26

Virgil - thank you for that :-)
I would definitely stay in my day job as its part time. My plan would be to try to build up a client base as a VA and then, hopefully in the future, if I gained enough clients I could leave my job and work solely as a VA.
I'm on the brink of going ahead with it as currently, I will be able to manage with the 2 clients I have spoken to as well as my day job.
If you don't mind me asking blush how did you go about creating or purchasing legal / contract documents? I've looked at the Society of Virtual Assistants website and paid a small fee to join so that I could read their blogs and forum posts. After emailing them about legal documents, they have directed me to a package which contains contracts and client agreements but I don't want to pay out lots of money un-necessarily. However, I will of course pay for the legal download they are offering if it is a requirement. What did you do? I really want to get something in place soon that covers both myself and the client, giving peace of mind to all parties, but which is also legally recognised, should a 'situation' ever occur.
Sorry for all of the questions - I just needed to ask you as you are a 'real-life VA' grin

OP’s posts: |
Nicolad1981 Wed 18-Mar-15 22:47:56

Hi all,
Just found this thread and thought I'd jump in .
I'm Aat qualified and Cima part qualified and am hoping to become self employed too.
I'm just applying for membership , just looking for a little advice please ?
On all aspects like finding clients and knowing what I can offer
Thanks in advance
Nic (sorry my first post )

Dondays Wed 06-Jun-18 12:35:09

Hi all I know this is an old post but I really want to set up on my own too, I am level 2 qualified AAT and worked in accounts for 15 years, I just don’t want to be answering to anyone anymore lol! I want to be my own boss working from home x

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