Small businesses all over the United States are in need of good bookkeeping and accounting services. The Internet has expanded the possibilities for both accessing accounting software and assisting customers in new geographic areas. This type of business is in high demand and inexpensive to start and operate.
Decide what services you will be offering your clients. Bookkeeping, payroll and tax preparation are all possibilities. Choose the services you are familiar with. If you are a good accountant but a poor tax preparer, then provide bookkeeping. Leave the tax preparation to someone else.
Choose a company name and logo. Pick a name that easily fits into a web address or domain name. Your web address should be easy to type, simple but catchy, and incorporate your name or business name. This will be your branding opportunity. Your logo is also very important as on online business. There are several companies that allow you to design your own logo (see Resources).
File for an assumed business name and tax identification number. The assumed name or DBA usually costs between $10 and $25. A tax ID number can be obtained online at IRS.gov. Open a checking account under your new tax ID number and business name.
Hire a website designer or use one of the many do-it-yourself companies online that that allow you to choose from a set of templates and enter your own content. Be sure to choose a template that relates to money or accounting. Keep your website simple. Limit it to your home page, which describes your business and the services you offer; a pages that provides your professional biography and credentials as well as a photo; a web form that allows potential clients to enter their information for quote by phone; a payment form where clients can pay for your services using a credit card or electronic check; and a page that provides your contact information.
Establish a merchant account with your bank or PayPal. Merchant accounts can be costly while PayPal is easy and inexpensive. Once you have created a merchant account you will be able to accept credit cards. PayPal will provide you with a formatted hyperlink from your website to your merchant account.
Choose your accounting software. QuickBooks offers an online software package for accounting and payroll. Each of your clients would be responsible for having an online account as well; you would have remote access to their software. Note your software selection on your home page and include an icon for visual recognition. The majority of small businesses use QuickBooks. Using online accounting software saves postage, time and potential loss of data.