Starting Your Own Accounting Business: 5 Things You May Not Have Considered

Have you been thinking about starting your own accounting business? It can be tempting to take this leap into being your own boss, but there are several things you should consider before you move forward. There are plenty of advantages to running your own accounting business, but just because you are great at accounting doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re ready to be a business owner. The points below are all important ones to consider.

Your Education

Both starting an accounting business and education cost money, and you might be concerned about spending money on your education that you should be setting aside for your accounting business. However, having the right education is critical as well, and a graduate degree can really unlock your potential and prepare you for success. You may be able to get student loans from a private lender at a favorable interest rate to pay for the degree.  Either way, there is a path to becoming an Accountrepreneur.

Buying One or Starting a New One

One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make is whether to purchase an existing accounting firm or start your own. There are different factors to keep in mind, and some of them will be specific to the company that you are considering buying. First, think about costs. On the one hand, you can arguably start your own accounting business out of your house with very little overhead. However, you might have to spend some money on marketing and getting your name out there, while an established firm might already have better name recognition. On the other hand, there’s no question that you’ll need a substantial amount of money in order to purchase a company.

If you’re buying a firm, one thing you have to be careful about is their existing financial situation. You will need to be prepared to really dig into their records and make sure you understand any liabilities they have. The owner of a struggling company that is up for sale might not be very forthcoming about money problems. When you purchase a firm, there are certain things that might be out of your control, like client loyalty and whatever rates the business has established. You can certainly increase the rates later, but you’ll need to keep them the same to start with.

Along similar lines, you may need to offer the same services for a while as you make the transition while if you start your own, you can simply offer what you want. Software and other equipment are going to be necessary and potentially costly. If you purchase a company, make sure you know exactly what is coming with the purchase and the age and condition of it all.

Either way, consider being in business for yourself but not by yourself with Universal Accounting Center.

Managing Employees

Whether or not to have employees might not be a decision you have to make immediately, but it is something you’ll need to deal with eventually. If you are starting from scratch, it might just be you, but you may want to add staff over time. If you’re purchasing a company, there may already be employees.  How much do you know about managing people? It may not be enough to be a good accountant.

This is where a degree in management could come in handy if you don’t have a background in it. If you have neither of these, you might want to read a few books about management and, if possible, explore taking some classes or seminars. Managing people is a skill in itself, and it’s a mistake to think that just because you are a whiz at accounting, you’ll also be great at management. Of course, some people are naturals in this position, but doing some reading can help confirm your instincts or shore up places where your skills might be weaker.

Your Personal Qualities

Having the right qualities to be an entrepreneur go beyond management skills. You also must know that owning your own business comes with many shades of grey. You might currently be asking yourself basic questions like is starting a tax prep business right for me but you need to understand that knowing if you have what it takes to actually do it is going to come from many more in depth questions about who you are as a person.

One irony you may face is that the very qualities that make you an excellent accountant are not necessarily that same ones that make for an excellent entrepreneur. Accountants may tend to be cautious and conservative, not risk takers like many entrepreneurs. There is an element of financial insecurity associated with running your own business that may fly in the face of your instincts. However, careful, and cautious people can be successful entrepreneurs as well. Making sure you have the right business knowledge and skills will be important. Writing a business plan can help you figure out where your weaknesses may be, and you’ll need one if you’re planning to seek loans or other types of funding.

Networking and Building a Client List

It’s not uncommon to get so caught up the various details of getting everything up and running that you lose sight of what you most need to succeed: customers. Are you a people person? If you’re more comfortable with numbers than people, this may involve some effort, but you’ll need to retain clients if you’re buying a business and attract them in the first place if you’re starting your own. And without the big budget that large firms have, that may depend on your ability to network and sell yourself and your company effectively.

You should work to strengthen the existing contacts you already have in the industry and locally and think about how you can make yourself more visible. This will vary depending on the type of service that you offer and the clientele that you want to attract, and you may want to consider working with a marketing firm or an individual to help you raise your profile if you are struggling to attract clients.

In short there is a Turnkey Business Plan for accounting professionals, there is no need to feel like you need to reinvent the wheel.

10 Reasons to Start a Solo Bookkeeping & Tax Business

Are you thinking about starting a tax services or solo bookkeeping business of your own? The time is right for entrepreneurs with these kinds of skills. Here are some of the reasons an accounting-related startup makes sense.

Clients Are Plentiful
No matter what niche of the wide field of accountancy you choose to specialize in, you will not be at a loss for customers. In every kind of economy, people who can keep accurate financial records, prepare individual or commercial taxes, or offer an eclectic menu of services are in high demand. The trick is deciding where your skills lie and what you enjoy doing. This is where solo bookkeeping comes in.

You Can Earn a Degree While Working
When you run a one-person solo bookkeeping enterprise, you make your own schedule. That means it’s much easier to earn a college degree even while working full-time. Many solo bookkeeping and tax practitioners use weekends and evenings for taking online or in-person courses, and pay all the expenses with a student loan from a private lender. Tuition and fees can add up, even if you’re just needing to add an extra year of credits to sit for the CPA exam. Private lenders offer competitive rates and their online applications easy to fill out.

Business is Year-Round
Because many individuals file their returns in April every year, there’s a misconception that the entire field of accounting is highly seasonal. Nothing could be more inaccurate. For example, among entrepreneurs, most filing is a quarterly affair. Many other in-demand services are enjoying year-round demand, like bookkeeping, tax planning, preparation of financial reports, loan applications, and countless more. Even the personal taxation season is much longer than it used to be in the days when the majority of citizens waited until the last minute to transmit their returns. In the digital age, when online filing is simple and quick, and when most working adults receive W-2s electronically, the busy season for preparers now runs for nearly four full months.

You Can Specialize in Tax Resolution
For better or worse, there are thousands of individuals and businesses that are facing huge bills from the IRS. Sometimes, their best hope is to get an OIC (offer in compromise) or one of several other settlements that prevents payment of the entire amount owed. This niche of the taxation services sector is highly specialized but also quite lucrative for practitioners who want to hone in on a narrow field of operation. And because there’s never a shortage who owe large sums in back taxes and penalties, accountants who do resolution work rarely have difficulty keeping their schedules full.

Adding EA and CPA Credentials Will Expand Your Clientele
If your business card carries an EA (enrolled agent) or CPA (certified public accountant) designation, clients will notice. Even though the EA designation is newer and not well-known to individuals, the letters are familiar in the world of small businesses. Having both credentials prove to prospective clients that you are adept in the wide field of accounting but have special expertise in preparing tax returns such as a Professional Tax Preparer (PTP) and/or Professional Bookkeeper (PB).

Most Entrepreneurs Avoid Taxes and Bookkeeping
Except for the occasional startup or small business owner who majored in accounting, few entrepreneurs want anything to do with filing tax returns, keeping books, or installing purpose-designed software for the job. Like legal, payroll, and security functions, most small business owners prefer to hire someone else to take care of their monthly books, maintain tax records, and handle core accounting functions. That’s one of the central reasons that accounting service providers of all kinds have done well as solo operators and small partnerships for more than a century. It’s just a fact of human nature that people who are good at sales, management, and entrepreneurship don’t want to be bothered with number crunching.

You Have Full Control
As an owner, you make all the key decisions about what kind of clients to seek out, how many hours to work, what combination of tax, bookkeeping, and other services you wish to provide. If you choose to take on a partner, that too is your decision, as is the choice of office location, what software programs to use, and what functions to outsource. Solo owners have 100 percent control of the operation, which is one of the most attractive aspects of working alone for the vast majority of people who choose to do so. As a solopreneur (a solo bookkeeper), you dictate who to work for and when, and what to charge.

Long-Term Industry Prospects Are Excellent
Unlike many other entrepreneurial business sectors, taxation-related services will be in high demand for many years to come. No matter which political party is in power, the constant tax law changes, amendments, and enhancements mean that the entire body of the legislative code is not static. Individuals and small business owners need professional guidance and are willing to pay for the best advice possible.

You Can Outsource Tax Season Overload
One challenge many new owners face is the deluge of work that appears from early January through mid-April. How best to handle tax season if you run a one-person shop and manage perfectly well the rest of the year? Often, the most effective approach is to hire as many temp workers as needed. Or, you can simply outsource your overload to a local firm that accepts batch jobs during the busiest months of the year. The main thing is to be prepared for several weeks of intense work and identify temps or outsource assistance before the filing wave hits.

Office Expenses Are Minimal
If this is your first foray into solopreneurship, it’s important to know that you can handle a sizeable number of clients from a bare-bones office setup. It’s fully up to you whether that means renting a small office or operating from home. In fact, for many one-person-shop bookkeepers and tax specialists, rent isn’t even close to being the primary expense. Expect to spend more, especially during the first year, on software, new computers and peripherals, and advertising. Of course, if working alone is not something you enjoy, or if you see an advantage in teaming up with a partner, consider other options besides going it alone. But, of all the business professions, accounting is perhaps the one that most readily lends itself to a solitary pursuit of profits.

Don’t wait, get started now on your journey.

Is a Tax Preparation Service Right for Me?

For some budding entrepreneurs, starting a tax preparation service is ideal – for others, not so much.  To determine if it is the right thing for you, let’s consider the pros and cons of your own tax preparation service and you can be the judge.

There are several good reasons to start your own tax preparation service:

1)      It can be done easily from your home.  All you need is a table to spread documents out on, a computer with tax preparation software, and a printer.  Everything can be done from the comfort of your own home. As you’ll soon find out, if you don’t know already, you may be able to deduct part of the cost of your home.

2)      Most tax returns are simple and can be completed in less than an hour by an experienced preparer.  The average charge for a single return is $150 to $450 depending on the complexity of the return.

3)      There is always a demand for tax professionals.   It is estimated that 155 million returns were filed, and 60% were prepared by one of 1.2 million professional preparers.  That calculates to an average of 80 returns per tax professional.

4)      The first clients will likely be from among your friends and family.  Many people appreciate and expect more personal attention from someone they know.  Advertising may start with an email to those you care about.  In future years, word-of-mouth advertising seems to take over allowing your practice to grow annually.

5)      The busy season will be January through April.  For most people, that’s the winter months when not much is going on.  In fact, many professional preparers earn enough during the busy season to take the rest of the year off.

6)      Each year the earnings will increase.  As the preparer becomes more proficient, it takes less time to generate a return thereby earning more income per hour when charging on a return, not an hourly basis.

Of course, it’s not all roses.  There are some things you should also consider:

1)      Tax preparation software is pricey.  The minimum cost is over $1,500 per year, with some brands nearing $3,000.  Although all professional software will get you to the same place for most returns, the higher-priced software will do the more complex and difficult business returns and often are more intuitive to use.

2)      Plan on long hours during the busy season.  As you build your practice, you will want to make “hay while the sun shines.”  Don’t plan any vacations until after Tax Day.

3)      Continuing tax education will be imperative.  The tax law changes each year and sometimes the changes can be complicated.  Several organizations, including the IRS, hold annual conferences to keep preparers up to date.

4)      A PTIN and local business license will cost money and may be restrictive.  A Professional Tax Identification Number runs under $40, and a local business license may cost from $50 to hundreds of dollars.

An income tax practice can be a great source of income for an entrepreneur that wants to work out of the home.

If this is the next step for your career, consider being in business for yourself but not by yourself with Universal Accounting Center as a certified Professional Tax Preparer.

How to Get a Tax License

If you’re thinking about getting a tax license, you’re on track for a lucrative addition to your career. Becoming a certified Professional Tax Preparer is an excellent step toward a satisfying financial future. Many people obtain their tax license and use it as a stepping stone to other opportunities, such as owning a tax services business. Simply including tax preparation skills on your resume and getting a tax license is an excellent pathway for advancing your current career.

Universal Accounting leads the way in small business tax training and is approved by the California Tax Education Council (CTEC) to offer the Professional Tax Preparer (PTP) certification as a distance learning course in California. Universal Accounting offers a money-back guarantee. If you aren’t satisfied with your tax preparation course, you can simply return your materials and receive your money back.

What Is IRS Tax Certification?

An IRS-certified tax preparer has unlimited rights to represent their clients in front of the IRS. Because IRS preparation is detailed and constantly changing, IRS-certified tax preparers can help clients better navigate the complexities of the system, including tax payments, audits, and preparing appeals in the event of an IRS error. Certified tax preparers are consultants who have a right to be paid for the work they perform for clients.

When you choose a reputable tax preparation certification course, it will include current information on tax laws. It will also prepare students for changes in tax laws for the upcoming years. The course will train students in state and federal tax forms and how to prepare them accurately.

I Want to Become Certified: What’s Next?

Tax preparers don’t have to be IRS-certified to work with clients and be compensated for their work, but certification is the best route to take if they plan to pursue a career in the field. Not only can certification increase future salaries and add more opportunities to the table, but it can also increase demand for services.

Certification is possible through IRS-approved educational training courses. Those interested in taking the next step in certification can find official courses listed on the IRS website. It’s essential to ensure the IRS has vetted the courses to make the certification official in the government’s eyes.

Luckily, modern technology has made hands-on tax preparation education more accessible and flexible than ever before. Online courses are a convenient way to enhance education while juggling family life and work responsibilities because they are available on-demand, day or night.

After you make the choice to pursue your tax license, it is time to find the program that is right for you, aligns with your goals, and is within your means.

How to Choose a Program

Students pursuing an IRS certification should keep a few things in mind when searching for a program. First and most importantly, the educational provider has to be listed as an IRS-approved course provider. Other aspects include:

  • Official “PTP” designation
  • Educational tuition assistance if necessary
  • Individual counselors
  • A timeline that aligns with their goals
  • Business coaching after completion

These aspects will help students set themselves up for success in the next phase of their careers.

Partnering with an organization such as Universal Accounting is an intelligent way to get started with a training course that encompasses all the aspects of a great program and is IRS-approved. The Professional Tax Preparer certification is a self-paced online training to prepare personal and business taxes and prepare students for the IRS’ enrolled agent (EA) exam.

The best certification programs support students after completing courses by partnering them with coaches and mentors with real-world experience. This additional training is invaluable to those looking to grow in the profession. The teachers and coaches at Universal Accounting know what it’s like to be successful tax preparers because they have experience in the field.

Reasons to Consider an Online Program

When students choose online tax education courses, like those offered by Universal Accounting, they can expect to learn via workbooks, videos, and various other reference materials. High-quality online courses are cutting edge and will include many elements of visual learning, as well as self-paced. This means you can return to materials and watch them again if needed.

Universal Accounting also offers instruction provided by experts in the tax and accounting fields. Students can expect to participate in real-world scenarios, which will help them prepare them firsthand for what it’s like working in the field.

What Happens After I’m Certified?

After certification, the next step is to receive recognition from the IRS. The first step will be an IRS preparer tax identification number, or PTIN. Registration is simple—visit the IRS website and register online for the PTIN in about 15 minutes. The application takes between four and six weeks to process. Once the number is official, certified tax preparers can use the number on forms and market themselves to clients as IRS-certified. This designation tells clients they will receive exceptional service and confidentiality and tells the IRS the tax preparer understands the complexities of their business.

In addition to the PTP and PTIN number, many tax preparers take an extra step to affiliate themselves with professional organizations. These memberships can carry weight for business owners running their firms or on resumes. Some of these include:

  • National Association of Tax Professionals
  • National Society of Tax Professionals
  • American Academy of Attorneys
  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
  • National Society of Accountants
  • National Association of Enrolled Agents

These organizations are very picky with memberships and are an excellent way to show commitment to excellence in the field.

Ready to Get Licensed? Contact Us Today!

If you plan to grow in your career or start your own accounting business, certification is an essential part of the accounting and tax preparation industry. The extra step establishes credibility and trust that will far outweigh the costs.

Tax preparation will always be in demand, and Americans dreading tax season each year will appreciate a professional in their corner. Start your certification journey today. Contact Universal Accounting for more information.

The Benefits of Online Tax Classes

When people imagine furthering their education, they likely think of classrooms where people sit at desks situated in rows and take notes while a professor lectures them. Even as the world of education constantly changes around us, there is something about the idea of a physical classroom that seems to remain ingrained in the public’s consciousness. The idea of online education may conjure up learning ideas that are subpar to face-to-face (f2f) instruction. However, nothing could be farther from reality. The truth is that online learning is a much more realistic way for many people to further their education and often has clear advantages over more traditional ways of gaining knowledge.

Education on Your Own Time

Many people looking for classes to become certified in accounting, bookkeeping, taxes, and QuickBooks already have jobs and careers. Furthermore, many have family responsibilities to raise minor children, including their extracurricular activities, parent-teacher conferences, and sporting events. When looking to further knowledge in tax and accounting fields, they will often look for local f2f classes, only to find that none of them fit into their schedule. People living a busy lifestyle often can get to their instructions only late at night or early in the morning, and this availability may change from day today.

Online tax instruction classes, such as the ones offered by Universal Accounting, open up whole new possibilities for anyone who needs their education to work around their hours of availability. Online training has opened the door of education accessibility for countless people, and people who never thought they would be able to become certified in tax preparation now can. When trying to work around a set class schedule, time restraints often dictate what classes a person can and cannot take. With virtual learning, a person has the freedom to choose the classes that are right for their own needs, not limited to rigid class schedules.

Not having to be present at a physical location means no worries about commutes or finding childcare. It never means running late or missing out on class due to unforeseen circumstances. This may be especially beneficial to people living in rural areas and those who do not live near community colleges or other learning institutions.

Online Tax Classes Means Quality Education

If you are enrolled in quality online education courses, they will include easy-to-follow videos, as well as workbooks and all necessary reference materials right at your fingertips. A common misconception is that an online course is nothing but reading a lot of text, both on the screen and in thick textbooks. If your program is a high-quality one, none of this will be true. It will include many elements of visual learning and resources you can watch again if you don’t catch it all the first time. Instruction will be given by experts in the tax and accounting fields, and you will take part in real-world scenarios that will give you experience and training that will stick with you much better than simply reading a textbook ever could. Many visual learners indeed excel in the virtual classroom versus a more traditional educational setting.

Access to the Best Mentors

Taking online tax classes means that physical location does not limit you to who can coach you and become a mentor. At Universal Accounting, this means that you will be in touch with real people who have worked in the real world and understand the subtleties of their businesses. They understand what really makes someone successful and profitable after they earn their certifications. These mentors can give their insights on successful resume writing, practice job interview skills, and give all the advice they’ve acquired during their careers. You will be matched with the person who is right for you and who understands your goals and unique needs as you navigate through a program.

Job Placement Resources

Once someone earns a certification, they may find themselves wondering what comes next. There is no use in getting trained in certain skills or certified in industry, only to find that that person has no way to profit from them or increase their quality of life. When someone has a virtual learning environment, they often have resources to find employers from all over the country looking for people with their skills. This can open up whole new job searching resources that local tax courses can’t provide to a student.

Online Classes Lead to Certifications

A common misconception about online learning is that it doesn’t translate well to the real world. The truth is, you will earn recognized and respected certifications and designations after completing courses. One example is the Profit & Growth Expert Online Program. You will learn cash-flow management and implementation strategies, robust sales techniques, and effective marketing strategies in this program. Once you pass the Profit & Growth exam, you can officially put PGE after your name. Clients will recognize that the PGE designation means you are educated in bringing businesses out of the red and into success. Another example is a course in QuickBooks that will certify you as a QuickBooks specialist when you complete it.

Many other online classes lead to real-world certifications that you can list on your resume and present to clients to demonstrate your expertise in taxes and other related fields. Employers all over the United States recognize these certifications.

Affordability

Online education may be more affordable than you think. Financing options for virtual learning are often done in installments over a longer period so that you don’t have to pay for everything upfront. Online learning often means access to virtual resources that can save hundreds of dollars you may have otherwise spent on textbooks, printing costs, and other expenses related to f2f learning.

Virtual Learning May Be the Best Choice for You

If you have ever thought that tax and accounting classes were too inaccessible, contact Universal Accounting School and take a second look at your online options. You may be surprised at the quantity and quality of classes available for you to be completed at the times you can do it.

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