Bookkeeping is the practice of recording, storing and retrieving financial records either for an individual, a corporate enterprise, or a non-profit organization. Almost all companies must practice proper bookkeeping to keep track of their business transactions.
What is the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant?
Before I proceed to talk more about bookkeeping, it is essential to digress a little and explain the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant. Most people do not know the difference between the two.
Bookkeepers fall under the umbrella of accounting, and their main focus is on the day-to-day financial operations of the company, such as recording income and expenses. You do not need to have a degree in accounting or a CPA certification to work as a bookkeeper.
Accounting, on the other hand, requires you to have a degree plus a CPA certification. An accountant is in charge of the overall financial direction of the company. They deal with the company budget, tax information, and they also prepare the financial statements following the standard accounting practices.
Now, as much as the job of a bookkeeper requires a high level of accuracy and very close attention to details, it has fewer responsibilities compared to accounting.
Can you work as a bookkeeper from home?
Yes. If you love working with numbers, i.e., you enjoy figures and are detail oriented, then, bookkeeping could be your ultimate work from home job. It is an excellent way of making money, plus it will allow you the freedom you have been craving.
Getting started is also easy, and all you need is a computer and an internet connection, but you must be familiar with some bookkeeping software and how it works to do an excellent job for your clients.
Learning the ropes of bookkeeping may take some time, but as I mentioned earlier, if you are good with numbers, you will get the hang of it pretty soon.
What type of work will you be doing?
In most companies, bookkeeping is a back-office position. You are to be heard and not seen. And this is the reason why a bookkeeper can work from home and doesn’t necessarily require to work in an office set up.
Once you have received your training – I shall give you the steps of becoming a bookkeeper in a while. So, once you are trained, you can go online and work with different companies, until you identify the niche you are interested in. Almost all companies require bookkeepers.
The type of work a bookkeeper does include;
- Management of the accounts payable.
- Management of the accounts receivable.
- Maintenance of the general ledger.
- Management of inventory accounts.
- Overseeing the company payroll.
- Monitoring the budget for different projects.
- Filing an accounting report.
- Paying the suppliers and follow up of the purchase orders.
- Management and monitoring the petty cash.
What qualifications must you have?
As we mentioned earlier, this is a job that doesn’t require a degree or a CPA qualification, but if you want to do a good job, and are considering bookkeeping as a career, there is training involved to make you good at it.
In addition, if you have a degree in mathematics, accounting or business, or you have been balancing your family's business books, or, you have worked before as a store manager, you definitely have the foundation for a bookkeeping career.
However, if you have none of the above qualifications, there are steps you can take to get you up to speed and get started.
To start off, if you do not have any experience, you can start here, with this free online course. Learn the basics of bookkeeping. Most bookkeeping courses, such as the one linked above takes only a few days, and they include training on the various accounting software such as Xero, Quicken, Sage 50 and QuickBooks.
If you have worked before as a bookkeeper and have been out of work for a while, do not worry about it, most of the standard accepted accounting practices have remained the same for a while, which means that you shall be able to get back and continue from where you left off.
Other qualities you need to possess include;
- You must be highly organized.
- You must have strong attention to details, and have the practice of double and triple checking your work.
- You have to be a hard worker.
- You should be able to handle multiple projects at the same time because you may have more than one client at a time.
- You must be personable and compassionate. This is because you need to make a good connection with your clients for you to achieve success with online work.
- You must also be trustworthy as you shall be dealing with their finances.
How much can you make as an online bookkeeper?
With online jobs, it really depends on who you are working for. If you happen to work for a big company, then chances are that you shall be paid well, but a small one will come with money limitations, but this is not always the case.
So, if we go with statistics posted by small business cost helper, the hourly rates for a bookkeeper can range from $20-$50 per hour, and this depends on the nuances and challenges accompanying the job you take.
If you are going to be working for a company full time, your salary range could be anywhere between $30,400 and $39,898 per year. You may be working full-time for them, but the advantage is that you do not have to worry about steady working hours or leave the comfort of your home to go to the office.
In case you are still a little skeptical about this job, you can read Callie Sitek's story on https://www.theworkathomewoman.com/remote-bookkeeping-biz/. Sitek is the owner and founder of TheSmartKeep.com. Her story will both amaze and inspire you.
She talks about how she started from nothing as a bookkeeper and now she is able to make $60-$80/hour on the job.
Where can you find work as a bookkeeper?
There are many websites that you can use to search for bookkeeping jobs. I will review a few for you;
This is one of the best websites to find work as a bookkeeper. Their clients are companies looking to outsourcing CPA's, and bookkeepers who have experience in A/R, A/P, sales staff, payroll, and appointment setters who can work from home.
To get a job as an accountant, you must have at least 5 years of experience, while to get a job as a bookkeeper you need 2 years.
Assurance Financial Management:
This outsourcing firm offers both accounting and bookkeeping services to its clients, and hence you can be able to find work as a stay at home bookkeeper with one of their clients. They also deal with other types of financial professions, and each of these works from home.
This is an accounting firm that is based in Houston, and it hires work-at-home bookkeepers and accountants on a full-time and part-time basis. They will require you to have at least 3 years' experience as an accountant.
This company doesn’t necessarily specialize in bookkeepers only, but rather all sorts of jobs such as virtual assistants. If you are specializing in bookkeeping, you are likely to find jobs listed on their websites for you to apply.
Upwork is certainly a ‘Jack of all trades' they specialize in all freelancing jobs, and a stay at home bookkeeper would definitely be able to find jobs on their site. You, however, need to write proposals and wait for a client to invite you for a job.
The site is competitive but it is one of the best when it comes to freelancing jobs.
This company provides bookkeeping and accounting services with a strong emphasis on QuickBooks. They work with non-profit organizations as well as small businesses, and they mostly hire work-at-home people to work for them.
It is, however, important to note that they will only hire you if you are within driving distance of Pittsburgh or Philadelphia
This is a website specifically for Bookkeepers and accountants. They specialize in those 2 professions. They are in fact a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company that provides services to small and medium-sized businesses.
This company works with many different professionals, and this includes bookkeepers as well. They normally request anyone looking for work to contact them, and they will get back to you with an appropriate job for you.
The beauty of such websites is that they can allow you to do more than one type of job at the same time, which means that you can be a bookkeeper and probably an administrator or virtual assistant as well, in order to diversify your income.
This company is a tax software giant, and they are quite famous. They provide employment for work-at-home tax advisors on both seasonal and permanent basis. The tax seasons are normally November all the way to April. During this time, you can get a job with them easily.
Your job could be giving tax advice and offering help to callers, and they do not allow you to sell anything or prepare tax returns for their clients. In order to work for them, you must either be an enrolled agent, a CPA or a tax attorney.
This is a Washington based firm that has many contracts with the US government. This enables them to outsource some bookkeeping jobs to work-from-home positions to outsiders. You must have some experience with QuickBooks in order to be considered for a job with them.
This firm is located in Kansas, and they employ experienced auditors, accountants, and bookkeepers. If you have a Bachelor's or Associate degree, with a concentration in business or finance, you can apply for a position in their firm.
Where can you start?
If you have decided to follow this career path, or you just need a good side gig, here are some of the steps you need to take;
I have talked about this above, you will need a computer with a good internet connection, plus, a couple of accounting software such as QuickBooks, in order to offer bookkeeping services.
Build a website:
Well, this is an excellent idea if you are in a position to do it. It is one of the methods you can use to advertise your services. A website gives your potential clients insight into your brand and also enables you to communicate with different people who go online to look for a bookkeeper.
Ensure to keep it updated with all of your qualifications, your skills level, and of course your experience.
You can also opt to use other forms of advertisement that have proved to be extremely popular such as:
- Use of social media sites.
- Cold calling clients.
- Email marketing
- In-person networking
- Lead generation
- PR opportunities
- Guest blogging
- Forum participation
- Facebook groups
- Public speaking
- Print advertising
- Email prospecting
All of these methods can be used to build your brand and advertise what you can do for your clients. Social media is one of the most effective marketing tools in the world today because it exposes you to a very big market.
Stay up-to-date with trends:
The world keeps changing. Every day there is always something new, and as such, you must keep up with these trends. Ensure that you are always educating yourself further on bookkeeping practices. You could even decide to enroll in another class just so you can be on top of your game.
If you are seriously considering becoming a freelance bookkeeper, I would strongly suggest that you read the story of Callie Sitek. This can be your starting point. It will give you some insight into what to expect, how to go about this career, and how great it can be.
Many people are working online nowadays. It is the current trend. The freedom and flexibility experienced by stay-at-home professionals are quite amazing. It also allows you to do other things you may be interested in, without the pressures of going into an office.