Do you enjoy numbers, formulas, and money?
Put those skills and interests to good use by becoming a virtual bookkeeper.
Since 2001, Ben from Bookkeeper Business Launch has helped over 2,000 people start their own bookkeeping business.
Today, we're speaking with two people who now work as virtual bookkeepers and their experience with Bookkeeper Business Launch.
1. What is a pro and con of being a bookkeeper?
There are two main benefits to being a virtual bookkeeper.
The first is how quickly we can make a positive impact in the lives of business owners.
If an entrepreneur is spending 15-20 hours a month on their bookkeeping, within one month of hiring us, they have 15-20 hours free that they didn't have before.
This time can be used to create new products, serve customers more personally and effectively, or even take some time off.
I also get to educate my client's on the full financial picture of their business.
Often, they may only have a snapshot of what's happening financially, so I love the confidence they gain when they start seeing the full picture of their business.
The second huge benefit is flexibility.
Before I was a bookkeeper, I taught 3rd grade! Talk about a massive change of schedule.
My schedule is my own, and I'm able to work when it is most convenient for me.
In the past, my wife and I had opposite schedules which made it tough to find time together, but now I can work when she is working (or sleeping) and be off when she is around.
It's a beautiful thing and has allowed me to be more relaxed, have more free time, and even have more time for hobbies and tasks around the house.
A negative aspect of the business is that you're the sole decision-maker and in a way, you're in this venture on your own.
This means that when problems arise, you have to figure it out on your own, which can be a lonely journey at times, especially when you're facing what seems like an impossible challenge.
Through the time I've been running my own business, I've found some support systems to negate this a bit, but I think this will always be a challenge in a way.
Most careers allow you to bounce ideas off coworkers or even a superior, but in this business, you have to be creative and a problem solver on your own and utilize Google frequently!
Being a bookkeeper/business owner can be a roller coaster.
Being a virtual bookkeeper allows me to have the flexibility and freedom that I wouldn’t have had when I was working in the corporate world.
You have the flexibility to work when you want to and when you don’t want to.
You can work from pretty much anywhere – you can go on a vacation and take your work with you, you can work at home, you can work in a coffee shop, you can work on a plane.
But being a business owner means that you also must have the discipline to do the work and set boundaries for yourself and your clients.
You can’t be at their beck and call 24/7 and still achieve the life/work balance that you want.
And owning your own business, learning how to do the job, as well as meeting the needs of your clients all the while still marketing and looking for new clients, requires you to juggle a lot of different hats and even get all the work done and grow your business.
And if you don’t have a great support group, this journey can be hard.
2. Do you think the training in Bookkeeper’s Business Launch set you up for success? Were you able to secure clients?
The BBL training covered everything I needed to know to begin my business and start the quest for clients.
There's so much to learn, especially when you're transitioning into a whole new field you knew very little about initially. But the curriculum is excellent.
It's engaging, detailed, and you can always go back to work on concepts that were difficult or didn't make sense. My favorite part of the training is the support given.
There is a Facebook group where you can ask questions to other bookkeepers and bookkeepers in training, but even better is email support from a few highly qualified and competent graduates of the course.
They can usually answer any question I have and always are very willing to help.
As for securing clients, that's a long process. Sometimes a client will come through a connection you thought would be in no way productive; sometimes you'll get no clients through a relationship that you would think should be very productive.
BBL gives you a variety of methods to use to get clients, and in my view, that's what you need to do.
Work through different methods, including social media, face-to-face networking, and blogging and creating content.
When I began BBL, I believed it would be straightforward to get clients, and that just hasn't been true.
It's a grind, and now I'm finally getting to the point where I'm learning how to find clients more effectively and make lasting relationships.
Bookkeeper Business Launch is a great program that will set up for success, but it does take work, a lot of work.
Bookkeeper Business Launch teaches you how to be a bookkeeper – the basics of bookkeeping, how you do the work for your clients every month to getting through the month end and providing financial reports for your clients.
You also learn the basics of marketing and how to get your first client and subsequent client.
If you follow the program, and you follow the marketing, you will find clients, but it does take work.
Some students have found their first client within weeks of starting the program, and others it takes a little longer.
If you keep at it, and keep marketing and talking with people, you will get a client. I have been in business for almost three years, and I currently have 18 clients.
It did take me almost four months to secure my first client.
It wasn’t easy, and I did doubt if I was doing the right thing and if this was what I wanted to do. But I kept at it and eventually ending up signing my first three clients all within two weeks.
It is essential to remember your “why” and keep it close at hand.
3. Do you think you needed the training in BBL? Or can you find this information for free online?
Before I did the BBL training, I was teaching 3rd graders, so the training was and has been very necessary.
Technically almost all of the information is in some way on the internet, but the amount of time you would need to put in to find it all and put it all together is mind-blowing.
Even more, how would someone like me, a former teacher, know what I needed to learn about and what wasn't as important?
The training is comprehensive and covers everything from bookkeeping and QuickBooks basics to marketing and networking tips. It even gives you step-by-step resources in setting up your business legally with the state.
It's necessary and essential if you're new to this field and if you haven't owned your own business before.
Even if you've done some bookkeeping on the side before, it's necessary.
Bookkeeping is a field that's changing considerably with new technology and new resources.
If you're not aware of the best practices and changes in the last few years, you cease being relevant and useful for your clients.
When I first found out about BBL, I searched, and research and looked around to see if I could do it without purchasing the course.
I figured out how to learn how to do bookkeeping; I found lots of resources that could help guide me.
But when I started researching about how to market my business and start to find clients, is when I hit a brick wall.
There were so much information and so many different things to learn and read that I suddenly found myself very much over my head.
And this is when I decided that if someone who has done this type of thing (starting a bookkeeping practice or in Ben’s case an accounting firm), he knows more about this topic then I did and that is what lead me to purchase the course.
What I didn’t know when I purchased the course was all the support that I would find within the group and from my fellow students. There is a Facebook group just for the students of the course.
There are currently over 5000 students in this group, and with about 200-300 active students, you are always able to get support from your fellow students who have walked the same path that you are. There is also a weekly Q&A where you can ask questions and get help during the call.
There is also one-on-one support that can help guide you through some of your more challenging situations. And the best part – this is all included with your purchase of the program.
I have found that I did have to go outside of the program to find additional resources, but this is a result of the niche that I chose.
Nonprofits are more complex and have a lot of areas that need additional training on due to the complexity.
4. After taking the course, how long did it take you to land your first client?
I finished the course in March but didn't quit teaching until June.
From then on, I was 100% working on building my bookkeeping practice. I started working with a family member for free that summer, to gain experience, but didn't land a full-time client until November.
That time was challenging but valuable. I was able to hone my skills, build out my network, and further decide how I wanted to be different than my competition.
I know of many others who found their first client or even first few clients more quickly, but I know for some, it took longer too. It all depends on who you already know when you begin, as well as how you market yourself online and in person.
I feel that it took me those five months to learn what my business was about and how I would serve clients, so in a way, I'm happy that I didn't have a client for that time.
It allowed me to learn from my mistakes with the prospects I had, while also helping me better serve my clients once they did start working with me.
5. What advice or tips do you have for someone who wants to become a bookkeeper?
If you're thinking about it, do it.
You don't need to do what I did and quit your job; many people keep their day job and begin their practice on the side. I think that's a great plan.
This is one of the few industries where you can start your own company with very little overhead. It's also one of the few industries where you get to decide everything about your business and make all of the decisions.
That freedom is truly liberating, and I believe it can bring so much positive change to your life.
Starting my own company has been one of the most fun and one of the best decisions I've made,
I never believed that I would look forward to Mondays, or want to work on my business even when I didn't need to, but both of those regularly happen.
There are so many supportive individuals and networks you can be a part of such as BNI, the local Chamber of Commerce, other bookkeepers, etc.
Join those networks, ask for help, and enjoy the learning of it all.
If you make a mistake, you'll learn valuable insight into how not to make the same mistake again.
Enjoy the fact that you are your boss, have a more flexible schedule than 99% of the population, and get to do what you love every day.
If you think you want to be a bookkeeper, then I encourage you to do it – jump in with both feet.
Don’t hesitate any longer, because you have already waited too long as it is.
We are all looking for the “job” that we will genuinely enjoy, our “dream” job.
This can be the key to living the life that you always dreamed of.
If you go into knowing that this is hard work, your clients won’t find you just because you have a website or business cards; you have to get out there and market yourself.
And this takes time. But it can also be the most rewarding career of your life.
If you're interested in becoming a bookkeeper, here's a free class that can show you the benefits of bookkeeping as a career.
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