Is Bookkeeping a Get-Rich-Quick Scheme?Jan 23, 2023
It’s a common perception that starting a bookkeeping business is a get-rich-quick scheme, especially because so many people only see the end result of what actually can be a long process.
As much as I do believe that bookkeeping can be simple and scalable, I want to accurately show the potential and possibility of starting a bookkeeping business versus the idea that it will be an immediate problem-solver for you.
Now, disclaimer: I really am obsessed with bookkeeping. I am obsessed with sharing about the power of bookkeeping and the power of starting a bookkeeping business. You can see how much starting a bookkeeping business and coaching bookkeepers has changed my life, but this didn’t happen overnight! I’ve been running my bookkeeping business for about four years now as an actual business, and I've been coaching since just after that happened, less than a year after I really grew it. This took time to build.
One theme of mine throughout all of this has been setting healthy expectations. I talk about it a lot, and I want to be very clear: just because bookkeeping can be simple and scalable, and just because it’s relatively easy in comparison to the other paths of accounting, that doesn't mean it’s actually easy.
It doesn't mean starting a bookkeeping business comes without a learning curve. It doesn't mean that you won't have to put any effort into it. It doesn't mean that you won't ever have late nights. It doesn't mean you won't ever have questions. It doesn't mean that you won't ever make a mistake.
What it does mean is that once you learn all of the things that you need for starting a bookkeeping business successfully, you absolutely will reap long-term rewards of following that learning curve. You will experience long-term ROI. That's the beauty of bookkeeping.
How Starting a Bookkeeping Business Can Serve You
You all know I'm a mom of three. My kids just went back to school after a few weeks off; I took a road trip with my sister from South Florida to North Carolina the week before Christmas, we had Christmas, and then my kids had another two weeks off of school.
This is a busy time of year for bookkeepers, and not only did we have the holidays, but in December, I had to binge through 96 hours of CPE. I had kids home. My kids have a dad that's active, but they live with me full-time, so I had relatively no breaks in the month of December. 96 hours of CPE, road trips, putting on Christmas for a three year old, five-year-old, and a six-year-old, managing a bookkeeping business of 30 clients, continuing to run my membership and host year-end workshops and everything, plus property management for an Airbnb down here…I have an objectively crazy life!
What I'm saying is that I run a bookkeeping business of 30 clients, and I manage all of these other things at the same time. So obviously, bookkeeping can be simple and it can be scalable. If it wasn't, I wouldn't be able to sustain that and continue to sign new clients.
I'm able to do all of this because bookkeeping is a system that I can rinse and repeat. But starting a bookkeeping business wasn't immediate; it was fast in hindsight, but that doesn't mean that I opened an LLC, created an EIN, took a course, and then signed 10 clients in a day. It means that I could see the long-term ROI of all of these things, and I chose to commit to that vision.
The Play-Doh Process
I picture starting a bookkeeping business in a couple of different ways, but one image I like to use is that of Play-Doh.
If I have Play-Doh, and I take this tiny little piece that's my first client and I put it in my hand, and then I get this other client and I put it on there, I can continue to add to that until it becomes something that really has the potential to put my life together the way I want it to look.
While starting a bookkeeping business, you can be choosy about those clients, you can make sure that you are profiting on every single client, and you can make sure that you have a process in place where you're doing the job and you're doing it well. And once you’ve done that, you can train a team to do it underneath you. But I didn't wake up one day and sign 30 clients and get to the point where my bookkeeping business could run and pay for my life while I lived my life.
Just because starting a bookkeeping business is likely the thing that can give you the life that you want doesn't mean that you can put a timestamp on it. You can’t just say, “Let's build this business in 90 days and let's make that the ultimate goal,” or, “Let's try it for one month and see what happens.” It's a much longer-term game than that. And what's so great and so different about bookkeeping versus most businesses is that bookkeeping is going to continue to be bookkeeping. Even if the tax laws change, even if the technology changes, at its core, bookkeeping is bookkeeping. And at its core, bookkeeping is vital.
That’s what I love about bookkeeping, personally. It’s nice for me that the promise is easy to deliver to your clients; the price is low compared to what they otherwise spend their money on, and the process is repeatable and necessary.
Because of this, you can fly under the radar. You're not going to be highest on the list of things going to the chopping block if your client's business starts to hit tumultuous times. In fact, they're going to need you more, not less.
Yes, some clients will probably say, “My expenses are high. I'm cutting my bookkeeper,” but a lot aren't going to do that. You're probably going to retain 75 to 80% of your core clientele, as some will continue to rotate off, which is normal. You're not going to be able to hold 100% of your clients, but you are going to be able to continue to stack onto that ball of Play-Doh and continue to grow your base of perpetual recurring monthly revenue. What other business has that?
What I'm trying to say here is that if you're in a position where you need money right now and you need more freedom right now, bookkeeping might not be the answer today. It might not pay your bills today and give you freedom today, but I want you to see what's possible in the long run.
Starting a bookkeeping business is not a quick solution to needing money today. You’re not going to go start a bookkeeping business and then hit 10K months next month, but it's very, very possible to hit 10K months and beyond within a year or a year and a half. It's going to depend on your pricing and your past experience and what you'll allow yourself to believe is possible for you and what you will allow yourself to risk in terms of just showing up for yourself.
And when you do that, I want you to tell me if there’s any business better than something that doesn't require continuous active work.
When you have a business that involves production and shipping and other things, that requires so much effort. There's so much more risk and so much more management and so much more that you need to put in place with that as opposed to a service that is in demand, that is repeatable, that you can reap that long-term ROI for.
You can shut down your client acquisition, maintain the clients that you have, and continue to allow them to refer more clients to you. I am hard-pressed to name any other business that works at that level of ease.
Not Quick, But Eventual
So, all in all, starting a bookkeeping business is not a get-rich-quick scheme. I want you to have healthy expectations for slower and steadier growth. Over time, starting a bookkeeping business can absolutely support your life while still allowing you to live that life, and you will be amazed at the ROI you receive in return for your patience!
If you're looking for more tips for bookkeeping, insight on how to become a bookkeeper, and how to say hello to a more confident business model, enroll in Become A Bookkeeper (BABs).
To learn about the program and get a peek behind the curtain, head to www.katieferro.com/6-secrets.
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