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    • Total posts: 10

    Hello everyone, my name’s Mat. I’m not quite yet flying solo, but am starting to think I should more and more each day. I am contemplating starting a bookkeeping business part-time (with scope to grow if that’s the path I’d like to take full-time).

    I actually have a Bachelor of Commerce and have been working as an accountant for about a year, however I question whether it’s the right path for me. I find it difficult to get the best out of myself in an office environment (as well as the regimented 9-5 hours). I also have doubts on my ability to succeed in accounting and my gut feeling is that it’s best to acknowledge my strengths/limitations and get the best out of myself, even if others may see it as crazy to ‘throw away’ a potentially highly rewarding career. I suspect that you wouldn’t have such earning capacity if you couldn’t quite succeed anyway.

    In my work, I have predominantly engaged myself in bookkeeping/data-entry tasks, preparation & lodgement of activity statements and individual tax returns. Fortunately, in between finishing university and finding a job, I actually studied an MYOB unit at TAFE, which was a great opportunity to become well-acquainted with MYOB software.

    As for what I may need to get started (aside from clients), I have plenty of home-office space (courtesy of spring cleaning), a laptop, an external hard-drive (plus a USB stick). Obviously I would need to apply for an ABN and would need to purchase MYOB software. Regarding software, I’m leaning towards AccountRight Standard or AccountRight Plus (happy to hear advice on this).

    One issue to consider is of course charge rates (as well as payment terms). I’m not quite sure what kind of hourly rate would be reasonable for someone in my position. I wouldn’t want to charge lower than $30 per hour. Another issue is the type of client I seek. Being early-to mid-twenties myself, should I seek clients who are relatively young (as we may be able to relate more easily)?

    I guess I’m after a bit of advice.
    Cheers :)

    • Total posts: 569

    Hello Mat,

    Is it the hours or do you dislike what you do? Being self employed takes even more effort and commitment than showing up between normal office hours. There will be many on this site that will tell you that going on your own is not always the champagne and roses employees believe it may be.

    Being young is an advantage in this case because if you don’t like what you do, you can change if you want to, which would be much better than a lifetime of doing a job because you studied for it (I have personally changed many times in my career). Having the tools, knowledge and space are an advantage but if your heart is not in accounting / bookkeeping then look at alternatives.

    If however your heart is in it or you are going to pursue regardless then I advise either getting some help from someone that has been through the process and can advise from real experience rather than hearsay or do a small business management course of some sort.

    As for clients – it’s not your age they will be engaging but your expertise and as long as you deliver value you should be fine.

    • Total posts: 11,465

    Hi Mat,

    Welcome to Flying Solo, and thanks for sharing your dilemma with us.

    As always, Harry’s advice is very sound. In particular, his comment that being self-employed takes more motivation than holding down a job is extremely valid. I guess my concern for you after reading your post (and please excuse me if I’ve misunderstood what you’ve written) is that you don’t sound any more passionate about bookkeeping than you do about accounting.

    If I were in your shoes, I’d be spending some time contemplating where my passions were, and then move forward from there. You don’t necessarily need to be passionate about your industry to be profitable, but in my observation (hanging around here talking to soloists every day), it surely does help, and it makes life more fun as well.

    Good luck with your deliberations. Please feel free to keep brainstorming with us all.

    • Total posts: 10

    Thanks for the replies guys – you make both raise some extremely valid points.

    In referring to the hours, I was alluding to flexibility. By all means, 9-5 isn’t necessarily bad, but there are many times where I would no doubt be more productive in non-regular business hours. Doing work when you’re in a better, more focused, frame of mind surely means you’ll do a better job (and a more efficient one no doubt).

    As for whether I dislike what I’m doing & what alternatives there are, I have considered consulting somebody (careers counsellor, or someone similar) and discussing things (i.e., better matching my interests & aptitudes to the right type of work). Quite a few people have told me that I’m a good writer and it is something I have enjoyed, having blogged a bit in my spare time (not much lately though).

    With regards to the process of bookkeeping, I actually do like it, however working in an accounting firm means your world essentially revolves around tax (to be expected I guess, given that the world does!) and I get the feeling it just doesn’t appeal to me sufficiently. I have noticed one thing at work though – that good bookkeeping makes an accountant’s job easier. I think I could actually succeed in a bookkeeping capacity because I’m aware of the degree to which it helps the accountants who use the information to prepare tax returns etc.

    In my opening post I suggested I may look to do bookkeeping part-time. I’ve actually contemplated pursuing both bookkeeping & writing (in some form) part-time. I have a strong feeling that following two pursuits – especially two which are completely different in nature – is a good way to keep yourself fresh, energised and ultimately passionate about what you do. I guess if you can achieve this, motivation & commitment becomes much easier. If necessary, I’ll probably investigate any short courses / part-time study – once my future becomes a little clearer.

    Thanks for the advice :)

    Paul Cunningham
    • Total posts: 69

    Mat, don’t treat your current job as something terminal but rather part of a journey. I think most people will agree a background in accounting is solid foundation for any business. In the future you might look back on your time in this profession and regard it as the making of you as a business person. Have patience and look for the oportunities as they present.

    I would heed the advice previoulsy stated “that being self-employed takes more motivation than holding down a job is extremely valid.”

    If you really need to, you could start a bookkeeping service at any time with your skills (30 bucks an hour is way too cheap by the way) but you might regret not hanging about for your Chartered or CPA credentials. Having those things doesn’t mean you need to be an accountant forever though. There’s plenty of fantastic career and business opportunities that beg for that sort of human capital.

    Get back to your blogging and use it as a substitute for whatever is missing in your current job. Find older people with business and life experience and ask plenty of questions.

    • Total posts: 10

    Hi Paul,

    The possible regret of not staying around long enough to gain CPA/CA credentials is something that has crossed my mind. You need to want the CPA/CA badly enough to accomplish it and believing you can would I’m sure play a part in how motivated you’ll be – I guess I have self-doubt as to whether I’m good enough to achieve this level.

    Regarding rates, would you have an idea by any chance as to what constitutes a reasonable charge per hour for someone in my position (ie, not a ‘highly-experienced’ bookkeeper, but someone with an accounting degree)?

    Thanks for your input :)

    Serena Star Leonard
    • Total posts: 43

    Hi Mat,

    I quit a very good and well paid job 5 years ago because I was not satisfied. People told me I should stay in the job because it was a good job and a good career and I was earning a lot of money.

    But at the end of the day it wasnt what I wanted to do in life, so I quit to try it in the real world! It has been 5 years since I worked in a job, some of the times have been hard but on the whole the experience has been incredible and I would not have exchanged the experience for anything in the world. I earn less than I did at my job, but the freedom and the lifestyle is all worth it!!!

    It sounds like you may still have a question about your credentials – so get clear on that first and then if you are still itching to start your own thing, then why not start out by finding your first clients?

    You will get a feel for the relationship and your value. I know bookkeepers that charge $25 per hour and I know bookkeepers that charge $50 per hour, so it all comes down to your ability to sell yourself and provide a good service.

    In addition to that, having this soft start into your own business will give you a taste for the work required to get and keep clients as well as the work involved itself. This way you can test the waters in a nice soft way without having to commit yourself to the decision until you have some direct experience running your own business even if it is only for a couple of nights a week.

    Good luck!
    Serena : )

    • Total posts: 10

    Hi Serena,

    Well done on having the courage to take a risk & doing what you knew was right :)

    I may soon heed your advice & (sort of) get my first client. I know someone who’s soon to commence self-employment and I will ask them if I could do bookkeeping work for them. Won’t be charging them (unless they’d like to pay me) but the key aspect will be getting a feel for the work & processes involved etc.

    Reading your post was quite heartening – thanks :)

    • Total posts: 10

    Hey guys,

    Something has just crossed my mind and I’m wondering if anybody can give any advice. Is there a less cumbersome way for a bookkeeper to collect the information required for bookkeeping purposes from his/her client than picking up a shoebox full of invoices?
    Is this still the typical means of transferring the information or is it more common to pass on this information electronically.

    Thanks :)

    • Total posts: 569

    Depends on the client – some can send their files electronically but some still use paper. Really what you want is to make it as easy as possible for prospective clients and fit in with what they do.

    I personally send an email to mine based on what invoices or statements need to be done but most of my receipts are put into a folder and send pass over – that’s the real value for me – I just jot down what it was and they allocate and tidy up.

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