The Ultimate To-Do List For Starting a Bookkeeping Biz

babs for bookkeepers libby Jul 31, 2023



In today's post, I'm going to talk about the nineteen things that you need when starting a bookkeeping business.

If you want a really deep dive into this concept, you’ll want to check out my Six Secrets episodes on the podcast, or the associated posts here. But in the Six Secrets, I do not drop down a list like this, so I thought it would be useful.

Even if it's repeating some similar concepts, I think we're overdue for repeating the basics, aren’t we?



1. 8 Out of 10 Ability

The first thing you need when starting a bookkeeping business: be ready to do the work, and rate yourself at least an eight out of ten for capability.

We're not going to look for ten out of ten. I think that's a little unattainable. You just need to make sure that you know you're good.


2. Know Where to Find The Answers

Before starting a bookkeeping business, you need to trust yourself to know the answers, or know where to go to find them.

This means that if you don't know all of the answers, you at least know that you're resourceful, you are complete, you know what red flags to be looking for, and you know where you can go to find the answer.

Maybe you are in the Tech Talk monthly vault. Maybe you're in Life by the Books, where you have access to that and the community and me. Maybe it is something else. Maybe it's authoritative sources. Maybe you know how to search for things to figure it out.

Regardless of the method, you trust yourself to close that gap.

(If you're not there yet today, one of the things that you can do to get there is to either join BABs to get yourself up to that eight out of ten, or join LIBBY as the place where you'd be able to get the answers or get the support while finding them.


3. Believe in Your Success Unwaveringly

Number three: believe in your success unwaveringly. You have to be really committed to the idea that starting a bookkeeping business is going to work, and it is just a matter of time.


4. Drop the Timeline

Fourthly, drop the timeline. We're not focusing on starting a bookkeeping business in X amount of days or we're throwing it out.

I'm not promising you a six-figure business in six weeks flat or anything, but what I will say—and of course I can't make any promises because of legal—is that time and time again, I’ve seen the people who believe in their success and commit to it actually tend to surpass their expectations of where they could get when starting a bookkeeping business, and they tend to do it faster than expected.

And even if it doesn’t happen faster, it usually happens better.

So drop the timeline and commit to getting there, not to when you're going to get there.


5. Get Certified

Number five: before starting a bookkeeping business , get certified in your software of choice. For me, that's Xero. I find the certification for Xero to be borderline fun.

You're not watching just a ton of videos and then trying to regurgitate information. You're actually learning helpful things about the platform, and it's quick. I did it in a couple of days. I am a binger, though, so it might take you a few days.

This is something that you mostly do for you. If you're going to be using a software, it's good for you to have that certification for you to receive any perks that it may come with, as well as to boost your confidence.


6. Register an LLC

Number six: register an LLC when starting a bookkeeping business. I say this to any small business owner.

Don’t worry about picking the perfect name yet. Just get an LLC. You can change the name later. You can add a DBA, but you should have an LLC for all of the reasons that everyone should have an LLC. I’ll link the episode where I talk about why below.


7. Get Your EIN

The next step to starting a bookkeeping business: get the EIN that you're going to stay with. It gives you that legal separation. (I'm not a lawyer. Please consult with a lawyer on that.) But you want to have that right out of the gate versus being a sole proprietor.

You can get your EIN, then open a separate business bank account. Personally, I love Chase. You can add read-only account access, it links up easily to all platforms, it gives good statements, and the way that it feeds in is descriptive and helpful. The required bank balance to avoid bank fees is pretty low. I love their credit cards, too, which leads into the next item here…


8. Look Into A Business Credit Card

I say “look into” a business credit card because I don't think that you need one right away when starting a bookkeeping business. It’s optional; it just depends on if that's going to suit you. I'm going to link up an episode for that as well.

Once you have a business credit card, you've got your LLC, and you've got a business bank account in the name of the LLC. You've got a credit card in the name of the LLC. Everything is as it should be, and that's where you do your business spending.


9. Get Paid Legitimately

Next, find a way to get paid legitimately and easily when starting a bookkeeping business. If I could change anything about my own journey, I would never have attempted to get paid for free.

Chasing people down is for the birds, so find a way to get paid on autopay, and make it legitimate.



10. Get Your Legal Ducks in a Row

I'm not going to expand too much on this, because I am not a lawyer, but get your legal in line before starting a bookkeeping business.

I’ll link up an episode for that as well.

You want to get your legal in line. You want to make sure your website is legal. You want to make sure that you've got contracts that you're using for your clients, and you want to make sure you have contracts if you're hiring anybody.


11. Develop a Sales System

This one is hugely important. When you’re starting a bookkeeping business, you want to understand how people are finding you. And once they find you, how are they moving forward with a quote? What do they need to do next? How are they booking with you?

You want to make that process as automated and seamless as possible.


12. Understand What You Want Your Life to Look Like

Before starting a bookkeeping business, you have to understand what you want your life to look like in order to build the business in a way that supports that.

I'm currently living the kind of life that I wanted to live, but I didn't accidentally get here. I had this vision, and I built around what this would look like for five years.


13. Build With The End in Mind

 Ask yourself this: are the decisions that you're making while starting a bookkeeping business the ones that an established, confident business owner would make?

In every little micro decision, we have to ask: “Is this decision going to get me closer to what I want? Does that support what I want? Is this what I would do if I knew that that vision was happening?”


14. Be Impeccable With Your Word

After starting a bookkeeping business, do what you say you're going to do, and be who you say you're going to be.

When you sign on a client, you have to do what you say you're going to do, and you have to do it when you say you're going to do it. And if you don't, you need to communicate with them. It is so important.

You really have to think about treating your clients like gold. They are your greatest asset, and they are the ones that are most likely to love and refer you and keep your business going. If you want a referral, do what you say you're going to do when you say you're going to do it. Keep your promises.


15. Detach From The Outcome

Next, detach from the outcome. With every little thing that you do while starting a bookkeeping business, you can't hold on so tightly to each thing working out perfectly.

Detaching from the outcome is acceptance, not apathy. It’s acknowledging that this is going to be what it's going to be. You’re going to show up hoping that it's the best, but if it isn't the right thing for whatever reason, then you will accept that, and you know that it doesn't mean anything about you.


16. Commit Fiercely

This can go hand in hand with believing your success is happening. So not only do you believe it’s happening, but you're committed to making it happen. You're going to keep showing up while starting a bookkeeping business, even when it’s hard.


17. Take Inventory of Your Tasks

Number seventeen is how you accomplish committing fiercely to starting a bookkeeping business: you take inventory of the things that you need to do. You write them down, then reorganize them by order of need or want.


18. Take the Simplest Step

 Number eighteen: take the simplest step that will make the greatest impact.

That one is worth reading again, slowly: take the simplest step that will make the greatest impact.

You can do this every single day while starting a bookkeeping business. If time is limited, look at that list that's organized in order of need to want, and then take the simplest step that will make the greatest impact.

That might not be number one on the list, but it'll be the one that you can do that will move the needle the most.


19. Leave Perfectionism in the Cubicle

Last but not least: when starting a bookkeeping business, leave your perfectionism in your cubicle.

Just show up. Do the thing. It doesn't have to be perfect. Done is better than perfect a million times over.



Want Support? Join BABs or LIBBY!

If you’re not at that eight out of ten confidence level in your ability to do the work and do it well, BABs is the program for you.

If you’re at that level, but you’re desiring support through the stages of building your business, LIBBY is where you need to be!



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 programs and get a peek behind the curtain, head to

Learn how to take your bookkeeping skills and turn them into a business that allows you to replace (or surpass) your corporate salary, be present for your life, and profoundly impact your clients without selling your life in the process by joining Life by the Books (LIBBY).  

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Get Certified in Xero: 

Chase Banking Episode: 

Business Credit Card Episode: 

Getting Your Legal in Line Episode: 

Why Get an LLC Episode: 

S-Corp Episode: 

Dropping Perfectionism Episode: