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.

How You Can De-stress for Success

Photo via Pixabay

Owning a small business or leading a busy professional life can be stressful even if you’re organized and have a solid plan. There are so many details to consider every day and so many responsibilities to handle to ensure that your business is a success. Part of running any business is setting new goals and figuring out how best to achieve them, and that can be difficult when you’re already feeling stressed.

The key is to look at your business objectively to see where improvements can be made, which can be difficult at first. You may feel overwhelmed with the amount of possibilities, or you may not know how to go about funding or implementing them. With a good plan and some tips on how to de-stress to maximize your performance, you can make your business a success.

Read on for some great tips on getting started.

Manage scheduling conflicts

Even if you feel you’re doing a good job at keeping things together, there’s almost always room for improvement. By taking a look at the way your scheduling is done and looking for ways to make it work better for you and your business, you can ensure your clients have a favorable impression of you and reduce the number of no-shows. By having a plan for how to deal with issues related to employee availability, double-booking, or shift distribution, you can run your business better and provide the goods or services your customers expect. There are many appointment reminder apps available, so do your research and look for one that offers all the qualities you’re looking for.

Consider a professional business coach

A professional business coach can ease your burden and help you focus your marketing objectives, teach you how to promote effectively and give you tips on how to successfully handle a merger. There are many different types of business coaches who focus on various areas, so choosing the right one is important. Before making your selection, make sure to ask them some relevant questions to make sure they are a good fit.

Create some time for yourself

De-stressing is all about creating time for yourself inside a busy schedule. Whether you own your own business or are running one, it’s imperative to carve some “me” time” out of each day. When you’ve spent many hours worrying about your business, you need to find ways to relax and do something you enjoy. Set aside time every day—whether it’s half an hour or just 10 minutes—to take a deep breath and focus on yourself.

Acknowledge your limits

It’s important for anyone with a career to realize that they can only do so much in a given day. With so many jobs and responsibilities on your plate, you have to learn how to prioritize and tell yourself that it’s okay to take care of the rest tomorrow. Learning how to do this will help you focus on the most important items and will ease stress and anxiety as well.

Learn to say “no”

Running a business is usually a full-time job, which means you simply can’t take on everything that comes your way. Whether it’s a new project or a request from an employee, it’s important to learn how to say “no” when your schedule—or your stress level—has hit its limit.

“Entrepreneurs tend to think that they have to be superhuman sometimes,” says founder of iCustom Label Nick Chachula. “It’s just not true. Entrepreneurs, just like everyone else, have strengths and weaknesses. You will be happiest when you’re focusing on the areas where you’re strong, not where you’re weak.”

Learning how to de-stress can help you run your business more effectively, but more importantly, it can also help you stay focused and on-task with your day-to-day responsibilities. Practicing self-care, such as eating right and getting daily exercise, will also help lower your stress and give you a better outlook on your career.

By Julie Morris

Julie Morris is a life and career coach. She thrives on helping others live their best lives. It’s easy for her to relate to clients who feel run over by life because she’s been there. After years in a successful (but unfulfilling) career in finance, Julie busted out of the corner office that had become her prison. Today, she is fulfilled by helping busy professionals like her past self get the clarity they need in order to live inspired lives that fill more than just their bank accounts. When Julie isn’t working with clients, she enjoys writing and is currently working on her first book. She also loves spending time outdoors and getting lost in a good book.

5 Unexpected Marketing Strategies

lightbulbEveryone is looking for new and effective ways to market their businesses.  If your current approach feels a bit stale and worn, perhaps it’s time to try some unexpected promotional tactics.  Consider the following 5 suggestions:

1. Guest blogging.  Visit blogs frequented by your target market, and offer to write a post in exchange for a byline with a link to your own website.  This will expose you to new prospective clients you may not have met otherwise.

2. Enter a business award competition.  Professional and trade organizations, chambers of commerce, Better Business Bureaus, and even universities often offer award competitions for small businesses.  Winning one of these competitions can greatly enhance your reputation as well as offer countless marketing advantages.  You can post the information to your website, include it in a newsletter, mention it in your advertising campaigns, etc.

3. Share your expertise with the media.  Nothing says expert like a media quote.  You can write an article or column for your local paper or issue a press release regarding any new information about your practice.

4. Donate your services to a non-profit organization.  This is another method that will enable you to contribute to the community while generating good PR for your business. Not only that, but the donation is tax-deductible. And when this organization promotes an event, you can ask that your store name be displayed somewhere on their booth, products, and promotional materials.

5. Create an event.  May 10th is Accounting Day and April 15th is Tax Day.  But you can create an event for any reason. Sponsoring a free event that people can attend in order to receive promotional materials or, perhaps, enter their names in a raffle, can be a great way to generate interest in your practice.  Remember to publish press releases to let people know about your event.

There are many creative ways you can promote your practice.  By employing just two of the above marketing tips, you can grow your business without spending a lot of money.

Build a Better Practice with BizBench

BizBench is an online business assessment tool that you can use to advance your financial practice.  For example, you can use BizBench to accomplish the following:

Attract More New Clients. Give potential clients the incentive to become paying clients.  Offer them a report that benchmarks their business against similar businesses and charts and graphs their strengths and weaknesses and opportunities for growth.  Let them know you’re more than just a historian, but you can help shape their future.

Retain Existing Clients. Imagine the power that a complete and comprehensive benchmarking and profitability report will give you to shape the future of your existing clients.  They will see you as a valued and trusted adviser as you quantify monthly improvements against this benchmark in dollars and cents to further increase the value of your services each month.

Save Time. It only takes a few minutes to submit your client’s key income statement and balance sheet data online, and in just a few seconds, you have a comprehensive benchmarking and profitability report to present them.  BizBench does all the heavy lifting for you, and you take all the credit with this report branded for your business.

Change the face of your business today, and become a Profit and Growth Expert using BizBench Software!  Call Universal today at 888-265-5341.

Questions to Ask When Building a Business Website

One of the most inexpensive marketing tools available is your business website.  With minimal startup and maintenance costs you can develop a good website that will represent you well and increase your clientele.  It will also work 24/7 as a virtual receptionist, getting the word out about your business while you work.  And if well developed, your business website will be more than an inexpensive marketing tool, but a good point of contact and an effort to further brand your business.

But before building that all-important website you must ask yourself a few searching questions:

1. Who is your intended audience? Unless you clearly understand who your target audience is, you will be unable to build a website that both attracts them and satisfies their needs.  Obviously you will want your website to appeal to both current and prospective clients.  Once you clearly define who might comprise that intended audience, you can ask yourself more specific questions regarding their expectations.

2. What are your objectives? When you are able to determine what you hope to accomplish through your business website, you have a standard by which you can measure its success.  Would you like it to simply share your business information like an electronic business card?  While it’s good to have that type of information available, a website can accomplish so much more.  Would you like to secure more clients by offering special website promotions?  What about explaining your services and their value?  Be sure that your list of objectives is specific and exhaustive.  Once you have developed that list you can use it as a guide in building your site.

3. What should visitors expect to find on your site? Visitors will obviously expect to find an explanation of your services along with contact information.  What else might they expect?  You don’t want to disappoint prospective visitors by falling short of their expectations.  Consider posing this question to a handful of individuals from your intended audience.   Current clients could also provide you with valuable insight on what they would like to find on your site.

4. What will bring visitors back? Attracting first-time visitors is one thing, but how do you bring them back to your site continually?  Again you must look at your website from a visitor’s standpoint and determine what would interest them enough to not only like your site, but bookmark it.  The one thing that will bring visitors back is offering valuable content that you update continually.  Consider offering a tax tips section, a client spotlight, or a regular website promotion.

5. What will they take with them? You’ve determined how you might build a site that interests repeat visitors, but what do you want them to take from your site?  Obviously, you want them to value your services more.  You also want them to remember you, even if they don’t retain your services initially.  When they need tax help, you want them to remember your website and return to get your number so they can schedule an appointment.

Universal Accounting Center Can Help You Create a Custom Website for Your Practice

Imagine how difficult it would be to create your own website that addressed all the above questions.  Now imagine that UAC can manage that process for you, enabling you to create a strong web presence without expending much energy.  Universal’s Accountweb, a website development tool, is available exclusively for financial professionals.  Within a number of business days you can create a personalized website for your practice, enabling potential clients to access your business even after your office closes.

To see a sample of a website developed from the Universal Accountweb platform, go to www.universalaccountingservices.com.

Whether you run a full-time practice or perform tax services on the side, you need a website that tells potential clients about your business even when you are unable to.  If you haven’t yet developed a website for your business, today is the day!  Order your subscription now—your website will be up and running by the following business week.  And if you are a Universal Accounting student, you will receive a free six-month trial! 

Good Management Skills

teamwork-skillsYour ability (or inability) to motivate your staff will be reflected in the quality of their work, morale, and cooperation.  By just focusing on just a few things, you can change the temperament of your workplace and ensure a happy and motivated staff.

1. Be positive. Lead by example.  This can be done by demonstrating a good attitude that naturally accompanies a positive outlook.  If you don’t have that, chances are your employees are simply reflecting what they see in you.

2. Permit others to do their jobs. Because you’re invested in your business’s success, it’s tempting to look over shoulders and micromanage your employees.  However, as a manager, you can best promote success by enabling your team to succeed.  This means that rather than telling them how to do their job (which you might occasionally have to do), you ensure they have access to all the necessary tools and training to excel.

3. Provide vision and support. Good managers inspire success with clear vision.  It’s your job to look to the future and envision positive changes within your practice.  Once you’ve shared this vision, you need to provide your team with the necessary support to move forward.

4. Practice good communication. Without good communication skills, you’ll find it difficult to lead your team anywhere, because without clear direction they won’t know where to go. You must clearly communicate your vision, your objectives, and your expectations.  But if you’re doing all the talking, your team will quickly tune out.  Communication runs both ways; you must listen and engage in productive discussions as well.

5. Give positive reinforcement and feedback. Nothing is more discouraging to an employee than lack of feedback.  In order to better direct their efforts, they need to know whether or not they’re satisfying your expectations.  Be sure you always provide positive feedback first.  Then give constructive criticism by sharing how they can improve their efforts.  Be specific.  Vague and ambiguous feedback is almost worse than no feedback at all.

6. Be an advocate. As your employees interact with clients, it’s important that you be their advocate.  Sometimes clients may complain about their exchanges with your employees, and quite honestly, there may come a time when an employee must be reprimanded for poor work and/or behavior.  However, most of the time you should not only support but endorse your employees, making it clear that as long as they’re performing to the best of their ability, you’ve got their back.

7.   Provide group training. Like a retreat, group training can motivate and inspire your employees while teaching them valuable skills.  Imagine teaching each employee how he or she can become your business’s profit expertUniversal Accounting Center has developed a proven program to help non-accounting employees understand their function and importance in the business model. With Universal’s proprietary training, each employee will understand how critical their position is to the business. They will improve their skills in performing important responsibilities that will greatly benefit the company’s profitability.  Call 1-877-833-7909 today for more information on how Universal can immediately help your company today.

Good management is often more motivational than even the cheesiest quotes or promotional plaques.  As you show a genuine interest in your employees’ work experience at your practice, you’ll find their loyalty, commitment and performance improves.

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