If you love numbers and have been looking for the perfect work from home job to do, you should become a bookkeeper.
Did you know Entrepreneur named bookkeeping as one of the most profitable online small businesses? source
That’s right, the low startup costs, running costs and average hourly rates of $60 make this online business idea one of the best to pursue!
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And that’s why I brought over a professional Bookkeeper to come teach us today how to get started with this profitable business idea even if you have absolutely zero experience.
Ben, a former CPA has been a Bookkeeper for over a decade and has also taught close to 9000 students how to become successful bookkeepers themselves.
In fact, his course Bookkeeper Business Launch is the ONLY comprehensive Bookkeeping course out there so if becoming a Bookkeeper is something you are interested in, signup for his FREE training first to see if it’s something you would like.
Note: This is 3,000 words of pure information on how to get started. I’ve never seen a course creator give away so much practical information in an interview before, so do read this thoroughly, AND implement what you learn.
Let’s get started now.
Hi Ben, thanks for agreeing to chat! Let’s start with a brief look into your background and how you got started as a bookkeeper. What motivated you to become one?
So, in 2014, I sold my CPA firm. I’d owned my own CPA firm for about 14 years, and I didn’t want to go back into that because I had been doing it for 14 years on my own and probably another five before that. So, it was time for a change.
One of the big things that we did in our CPA firm is that we did bookkeeping. I trained at the time about 120 bookkeepers over the course of my career on how to do bookkeeping services and how to do them right. We continue to serve the market, first and foremost, listen to our market.
Then you took all that knowledge and put it in a course! How has that paid off for you? Very well?
So, my passion really now is seeing results, seeing results that our students get.
Going inside of our Facebook group and reading emails and having personal relationships and phone calls with people who are starting to live the life that they have dreamed up.
What we call the ‘and’ lifestyle around here, a life where you can have family, you can have finances, and you can have the freedom. You never have to choose between all of them.
So, every day I get up. One of my favorite things to do is to go into the Facebook group and look at the wins, look at how people are getting clients, how they’re starting to do crazy things for their family, crazy, great things for their family as a result of them starting a business.
So obviously we all have a profit motive. We’re in business to make money. But more than that or as important as that is just seeing results, and more than just monetary results, seeing people really come outside their shell and realize that “Hey, I’m a pretty badass person,” because growing a business is so much more than just growing a business, you’re growing personally as well. That’s my passion. That’s what fuels me every day.
One question lots of people ask is how much bookkeeping pays, especially for beginners. Can you give us an estimate to go by? Like what a typical bookkeeping hourly rate comes out to, all things accounted for.
This is one of the most common questions I get asked.
We make no income claims. It really is 100% dependent upon how much effort, time and care one puts into starting and growing their own virtual bookkeeping business.
Bookkeeping is NOT a get-rich-quick scheme. I half-jokingly say it’s a work-your-tail-off, rewarding, lifetime profession.
I teach my students to have goals, one of which is income. Some students want part-time/supplemental income; some want to replace full-time income. Either case is not only a possibility; it’s also simple.
In either scenario, this is doable within one year IF they work the blueprint we give them.
But, I want to emphasize that earnings are 100% dependent upon how much effort, time and care the new bookkeeper invests into their business.
There is a short-term sacrifice that you make for a lifetime of benefit as a professional bookkeeper.
A lot of people confuse bookkeeping and accounting, can you please tell us what the difference between bookkeeping and accounting is?
In simple terms, bookkeeping is the recording, storing and retrieving of the financial records for a company. Every business is required to keep accurate financial records.
Bookkeeping is an aspect of accounting.
Bookkeeping is more about the nitty-gritty of the business, the transactions, the daily vibe of a business, whereas accounting is more of the higher level, financial statements and all of that.
But there are blurred lines between bookkeeping and accounting, especially when it comes to what bookkeepers are doing versus what accountants are doing.
So we’ve all been to the doctor and we’re now seeing nurse practitioners. We’re seeing physicians’ assistants where we used to always see physicians. And the reason is, is because those nurse practitioners and those PAs are getting their skills upgraded. They’re doing more. They’re doing things that the doctors used to do so that the doctors can now focus on the things that they truly do, and the same thing with bookkeepers and accountants.
There’s overlap. But now with computerization and automation and all these other things that we have, bookkeepers now, their time is not so much spent on data entry as it is being more analytical and doing things that accountants could or should be doing in the past.
So, again, there’s a little bit of overlap in them or a lot of overlap in the two. But they’re both … It’s always said that accounting and bookkeeping is the language of business. So that’s exactly what it is.
That’s interesting, can you tell us how bookkeeping works exactly? Why is there so much demand?
The responsibilities of a bookkeeper can vary depending on the complexity and size of a business.
Generally, a bookkeeper is responsible for recording daily financial transactions (money going in and out of a business), properly categorizing those transactions, and then preparing monthly financial reports for the business owner.
For starters, you are truly helping business owners. You become their go-to person and that feels awesome.
Second, there is never a dull moment in bookkeeping. There are exciting challenges you face daily. If you like learning and developing a craft, as I do, then bookkeeping might be right up your alley.
Another positive is that you are a professional. Just like an accountant, attorney or consultant, your client sees you as someone whom they respect and rely upon. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to be in a highly respected profession.
Wow! Anyway, a lot of jobs are becoming automated these days, will bookkeeping be automated anytime soon in your opinion?
Most of the work that “traditional bookkeepers” do at this moment in time will disappear in the next 5-10 years.
With the invention of manufacturing robots, the automotive industry was changed forever. And now the same thing is happening to bookkeeping. Only the robots are digital, not mechanical.
I teach my students that if you want to succeed as a bookkeeper, you need to become what I call a “21st Century Bookkeeper.”
A 21st Century Bookkeeper is a bookkeeper who focuses on the most valuable work that a bookkeeper can do for a business owner.
Interpret – This is where we take the information from the first levels (the data entry, and financial statements) and we explain it to our clients. And you have to do it in a way that they understand. Every client is unique, so how we interpret has to be in line with their personality and their current level of knowledge.
Advise – Now on top of interpretation, we have advising, which is proactive. You won’t have to explain calculus or anything complicated like that to business owners. Advising is just giving them sound financial advice that’s going to help their business. And really, you’re doing more than helping their business; you’re helping their life. Remember, people start businesses to improve their lives, and by helping their business, you’re helping them live a better life.
Becoming their Trusted Advisor – The top level is Trusted Advisor. Now you don’t get to that point without doing all the other things and doing them well. The difference between advising and being someone’s trusted advisor is that the information flows in. When you’re contacting your client to provide advice, that’s advising. When you’re their Trusted Advisor, THEY are contacting YOU with problems they have and asking for help. This takes some time to achieve, but when you get to that point, you know you’ve made it.
This is deep! So can anyone become a bookkeeper? What skills or qualifications do people typically need to leverage this evolving business idea?
I wouldn’t say that “anyone” can become a bookkeeper; you definitely need certain skills, but they are not what you may think and most can be taught.
In my free course, you find out the 7 character traits of a great bookkeeper, but surprisingly, “math skills” is NOT one of them!
The two that can’t be taught are #1 – an eye for details. The accounting/bookkeeping software does all the math for you, but you need that eye for detail to be able to spot when something isn’t right.
And #2 – Having a Caring Personality. Believe it or not, bookkeeping is first and foremost a relationship business. The great bookkeepers truly care about their clients and the success of their client’s business. If you possess those two traits, then you can become a great bookkeeper if you get the right training.
Editors’ Note: I took Ben’s FREE training and I was surprised to find that the 7 characteristics he mentioned are all things that come naturally to us moms! It’s why I had to bring him on here to share!
I know that figuring out how to get bookkeeping jobs is a big issue for most beginners, any tips on how to find bookkeeping jobs?
There are certain things that you can do that give you incremental growth, incremental improvement and efficiency, but picking a niche is all about effectiveness and it’s a huge lever.
So for us as an example, we’ve helped people start bookkeeping businesses and tax businesses. If we were just trying to help people to start businesses, we probably would not have this success that we have today.
One of the things that we encourage our students to do, regardless of what business vein that they’re in, is to pick a niche.
Now a niche doesn’t just have to be an industry. It could also be demographics. It can be the type of person. There’s a whole host of things. But the world needs people who are specialized in certain areas.
There’s this thing that you should be a well-rounded individual, which is a bunch of crap, especially when it comes to running your business.
Instead of going wide and trying to serve tons of markets and tons of people, if you focus on a niche, it’s like digging down. You’re going to find more and more treasure the farther down that you go.
And what you want is multiple ways to get one client. So there is a merit of ways.
Networking, personal networking is huge. We call it Yakkity yak, going out there and telling everybody. Networking events, specialized groups online, cold emails, working LinkedIn.
One of the things that we talked about earlier was having a niche. So where do you fish? You fish where the fish are, and so you need to find out who is your market and then say, “Where does my market hang out?” And get there, get in front of them, whatever way.
Referral partners. People will say, “Hey, I’m going to do Facebook paid ads,” and all of this sort of thing. Well, maybe some point down the road. But you’re not going to do that at first because that takes a lot of work and that’s going to take a lot of time too. Not that it isn’t effective but it’s just a lot more lead time.
So you want to get that first client as quickly as possible. And so when we go through the program, we go through the ones and we monitor as best we can how people get their first client. You want to have multiple ways in which to do it. Those are just some of the most common ones and the ones that people should start with.
Your course is known to be the best bookkeeping course online and from the “nuggets”, you’ve just shared, I can see why! What motivated you to create it?
I didn’t plan on doing anything with bookkeeping or accounting or anything related to that when I first sold my firm, but my friend Kelly, she had lost her job. She was a stay at home mom of three boys, and had a good virtual job.
She lost that job, and she was worried that she was going to have to go back to work. And I said, “No, you’re not going to have to go back to work in a real office type environment. Let’s start you a bookkeeping business.” And that kind of formed a genesis of Bookkeeper Business Launch.
It was all by necessity, something that she needed. And about a month into helping her, I was like, “Hmm. I wonder if other people would enjoy having a virtual bookkeeping business,” because at this point, early 2015, technology was just coming on that would allow people to do bookkeeping and do it virtually. It would kind of become more mainstream than the rogue type of stuff. And the rest is history.
Since then, we have trained over 8400 people on how to start a bookkeeping business all because Kelly had lost her job.
Editor’s Note: This is powerful and I love that it starts with a mom who wanted to stay home with her kids, like us. I actually got the recommendation for Ben’s course from a group (for business moms) I’m in.
Any more tips for us?
Number one piece of advice. Join Bookkeeper Business Launch. I mean, you’re not (you won’t be) starting from scratch.
That aside, if we were taking that aside … Number one piece of advice for anyone who wants to learn how to run a successful bookkeeping business- Is that you just got to go out there and do it. Okay.
So here’s like the first thing, and we talk about this in our pre-marketing or in our marketing of the program.
- Make sure you’re the right fit.
- Make sure you have all the facts.
We know the system works for the right person, as long as that person’s going to work that system.
It doesn’t matter if you’re using our system or anybody else’s system if you don’t put in the effort if you don’t implement, if you don’t take action, you’re going to get zero results.
So you’ve got to make sure, number one … The number one piece of advice that I would give you is that you determine that you’re the right fit for it. When you determine that and you say, “This is what I want to do,” that you do it and you do it with everything and you don’t look back.
On the days that you hate your life and you’re asking yourself, “Why in the world did I do this?” Because there will be those days, and they will be frequent at first. But the next day, that night you go to bed and the next day you get up and you just say, “I’m going to do it again.” So that’s kind of my number one piece of advice.
Thanks so much Ben for answering so in-depth! I’ve learned sooooo much myself.
Here are the key takeaways to remember:
- Bookkeeping is an in-demand and profitable online business idea.
- Average hourly rate is around $60/hr but you have to put in the work to make it happen.
- Bookkeeping is different than accounting and has in fact evolved. If you want to make any money, you need to become a “21st Century Bookkeeper”.
- You’ll need an eye for details and a caring personality among other things to run a successful Bookkeeping business from home.
- To find bookkeeping jobs, you’ll need to niche down and employ the rest of the tactics Ben shared in this interview.
- Finally, you’ll need to TAKE ACTION.
Also, remember that like with most businesses, you’ll be saving yourself time and money with the right training.
If you want a taste of what Ben’s training feels like first, sign up for his totally FREE training here.
If you feel ready to take the plunge and make this career your own, the Bookkeeper Business Launch course is the only one I recommend, go check it out.
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