Spacer Image
chapter three of six

What services will you offer?


Table of contents

Spacer Image

When planning a bookkeeping business, you need to nail down what services you’ll offer, who to, and how. It’s best to start small and not promise more than you’re able to deliver.

Will you be a generalist or a specialist?

You can set yourself up as a generalist, offering the full spectrum of services to everybody. Or you might decide to specialise. Specialists may target a specific type of client with a narrower selection of relevant services. You can read more in the chapter on finding a niche.

As a general rule, however, you’ll be offering from a fairly standard set of services.

Bookkeeping services you could offer

There are many traditional and non-traditional bookkeeping tasks that can add tremendous value to a business. You will probably need to offer some combination to give yourself a shot at consistent work.


Standard bookkeeping

The first job in bookkeeping is to maintain the ledger. This often involves setting up accounting software and linking it with the client’s bank to pull through transaction data. You might do the bank reconciliation yourself or have your client do it and double-check their work. Plus you’ll check the ledger regularly to make sure everything is flowing through correctly – and fixing it if it isn’t.

standard

Training staff

Business owners and their staff may not understand their role in bookkeeping. You can teach them what to do, and when. The same goes for things like invoicing, stocktaking, and creating expense reports. If they’re using software, then you can set things up, then create cheat sheets or checklists for various tasks.



Monthly reporting

Set up regular health checks for the business by producing a balance sheet, profit and loss statement, aged payables report, aged receivables report, and a cash flow forecast. Don’t just throw numbers at your client. Break it down for them. Explain things, and draw their attention to the things that need attention. You can find specialist reporting software that converts data into beautiful, easy-to-understand graphs and charts. You can extend reporting to non-financial  numbers too, such as website data from Google Analytics.


Accounts receivable

You can advise on payment terms, monitor ageing receivables, and chase overdue accounts. It can help to have someone from outside of the business making the awkward phone calls about late payments. You may also help decide how to deal with serial late payers.


Accounts payable

Deciding when and how to pay bills is important, but many business owners don’t have the capacity to do it well. They’ll either pay everything straight away, or wait till they get overdue letters. You can take charge of the process, watching what’s due and when, and reconciling that against the cash flow forecast to decide when payments are made.


Filing taxes

Keep tabs on sales tax collected, file reports with the tax office, and make payments. A bookkeeper will also help ensure the business is in a position to pay income tax when required. You can greatly improve tax time for your clients by tracking their tax liability and making sure they put aside the cash needed to pay.


Payroll

Payroll scares a lot of business owners. You can take the worry away by:

  • maintaining employee records 

  • making sure their deductions are applied at the correct rates

  • ensuring leave entitlements are accurate and administered at the correct rate of pay

  • calculating pay and deductions on payday

  • creating payslips and making payments

  • filing reports with the tax office


Setting up business systems

Because bookkeepers understand admin and finances so well, they often end up as tech consultants to small businesses. You might be asked to set up point-of-sale systems, payment gateways, staff scheduling and time-keeping systems, job-costing software, project management systems, and so on. You can make the most of these opportunities by becoming an expert on:


General consultant

As the one with your finger on the pulse of the business, you’ll be the first to see challenges emerging. You can help troubleshoot them. You might recommend changes to payment terms to fix cash flow issues, or suggest your client refinance an expensive overdraft. You may identify product lines (or services) that are losing money, or spot growth opportunities that aren’t being explored. Bookkeepers are in a great position to see patterns in the finances of a business. You can share these insights with your clients.


Growth consultant

With a bit of training, you can help business owners identify the things that drive profitability. These key performance indicators (KPIs) are often the same across whole industries, so it’s not like you need to learn a big secret. You can highlight the relevant KPIs for your clients, help them set benchmarks and monitor progress, and even brainstorm ideas for improving performance. Your accounting software may also provide invaluable small business insights to share with your clients.


Types of clients you want

Think about who your ideal client would be and what type of work you’d do for them. It’s your business so you can be fussy within reason. Defining your ideal client will help you focus on certain services.

Would you like to work with:

  • sole traders or bigger businesses?

  • lifestyle or growth-focused businesses?

  • startups or established businesses?

  • traditional or tech-focused businesses? 

  • specific industries such as retail, hospitality, or trades?

If there’s a type of business you really want to work with, put in the time to figure out what they want. Do some research into and talk to your target market and develop services and pricing that will appeal to them. By undertaking research and niching your services, you can begin to market yourself as an expert.


Chapter 4: Niche and virtual bookkeeping businesses

Working with a specific industry or offering a unique service can help you stand out. Learn how being niche can work for you.

Read next chapter

Read the free ebook

Starting a bookkeeping business (PDF 3.8MB)

View the ebook