How to Start a Freelance Bookkeeping & Payroll Service


Whether you are located in a big city or a small town, bookkeeping and payroll preparation are always in demand. Many people are content to work as part-time contractors for a few local businesses, but with a little extra effort you can create a business that will provide more income and greater business opportunities.

Creating a Business

Write a business plan. Well-written business plans provide an organized approach that will greatly improve your chances of success. Your business plan is the basis for your marketing materials and website copy. It is also an excellent marketing tool to give bankers and other potential clients.

Create a business image that will attract clients. Anything you can do to present an image of knowledge and reputability will improve your chances of attracting customers. Diplomas, certificates for professional skills, memberships in civic organizations, appearances as a speaker or in panel discussions, and published articles, pamphlets or books will all improve your professional image.

Define your target clients and decide the best way to market to them. Local business owners are always looking for ways they can easily outsource bookkeeping to reliable service providers who will provide personalized service at an affordable price. These clients will also provide you with excellent recommendations if you live up to their expectations. When you are deciding who to market to, take into account who needs your services the most and will provide the best referrals.

Create your marketing tools. You will need business cards, a website, a brochure that describes your services, and a separate rate card. Inexpensive online graphic design services offer logos, business card design, brochure and letterhead design. These graphics can be used on your website. There are excellent website template programs that will allow you to build your own website easily and inexpensively. The more attractive your marketing materials, the more professional your business image and the easier it will be to impress prospective customers.

Research banking and payroll services to offer through an affiliate program. To grow your income without hiring employees, find outsourced services your company can provide. For example, many law firms use document services such as Legal Zoom to prepare simple wills and living trusts. These might be appropriate additions to your service offerings, along with outsourced payroll, insurance and tax services. Inquire about affiliate programs that will allow you to sell their services, or ask if they provide business services that you can sell under your logo.

Tips & Warnings

  • Your success depends upon your willingness to operate as an expert adviser to you clients. Improving your image as a business owner will pay off in terms of your income, your ease of attracting new clients, and your ability to expand your business. One key to successful entrepreneurship is good contracts. NoLo Press offers books that can help you understand your contract needs and create standard services contracts that will protect your business from a variety of common problems.
  • Before you open your business make sure to check state, county and city laws governing small business and verify that your local zoning laws do not prevent you from working out of your home. You will also need to incorporate and buy business insurance to protect you from errors and omissions in your work. Your local Small Business Administration office will have some of this information but it is always best to contact your local government offices directly.

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