Going into business for yourself can be a great move for the motivated
It takes a change in attitude for contract bookkeepers to stand out in the gig economy. As an independent contractor, you need to take charge and work with authority.
This is different from working as employee, where much of the decision-making is made by people much higher up the food chain, or through much consultation with key stakeholders in the organisation.
You need to take the lead and the more you can provide your client with, the more they come to rely on you. For a bookkeeper, this can mean becoming a one-stop shop for all things accounting-related.
Strategise and structure
As an independent contractor, you’re the key stakeholder in your business. And you are running a business — with all that this entails in terms of financial forecasting and so forth. Unless you’ve set up a partnership, then you’re the chief decision maker — there are no directives from higher ups or input from the leadership team; it’s just you.
To work with other businesses efficiently — by which, we mean that you get your work done on time, but also in the most profitable way for your business — you need to develop a strategy for acquiring new business and structuring your services.
This might mean using Mondays to make sales calls and pitch businesses for work. It could even mean setting deadlines for when clients have to get certain information to you and what should be included in that information. Whatever makes it smoother for you to operate your business, and clear and easy to follow for your clients.
Use productivity apps
Once you are clear about which bookkeeping tasks you will be providing for your clients, productivity apps like TSheets, Asana and Google Calendar can help you manage your clients and the projects you’re working on. They also help you to keep your clients accountable and to follow up on things before it’s time for you to start working on them.
Using a productivity app like Google Calendar to schedule appointments and project time for your clients also helps them to see you’re busy and not at their beck and call. This is important because as an independent contractor, you only bill your clients for the time you actually spend working for them, doing their bookkeeping.
But what about all the emails you send, chasing them up for documents or receipts? And the time wasted while you’re waiting around for it to come through late? How do you bill for that?
Well, it’s difficult, unless you’re clear about your processes and charges upfront. Set boundaries at the outset so your clients know where they stand, and everyone will be happy.
As an independent contractor, you’ll come across businesses of all stripes. There’ll be the disorganised, the mildly organised and the super organised. On the latter end of the scale, those organised businesses will most likely use systems of their own that they’ll expect you to work with.
They might want you to work with their existing cloud accounting package — MYOB, Xero, QuickBooks or some other — and unless you can see that, based on their business needs, there’s a more efficient program they should migrate to, for the most part, you will just have to work in with them.
So it helps to be skilled in multiple cloud accounting programs and other cloud-based productivity programs, so you can easily work with a wide array of businesses.
Need to refresh your bookkeeping knowledge?
Find out more about the benefits of one-to-one training as a supplement to an online training course
If you need to refresh your cloud accounting skills for MYOB, Xero or QuickBooks, we have the online training courses available to help you do this. We also have highly experienced and qualified bookkeepers able to train you face-to-face or remotely, anywhere in Australia.
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