Last editedNov 20223 min read
Working for yourself as a self-employed accountant means you benefit from unrivalled flexibility and the freedom to pick and choose your own clients. Cloud-based software and fast internet connections make it easier than ever. In this guide, we’ll cover how to get started with our top tips for becoming a freelance accountant.
How to become a freelance accountant
Becoming a freelance accountant isn’t a complicated process, provided you already have the relevant training in place. To go it alone as a sole practitioner, you’ll need to register your business and build a portfolio of clients. You’ll also need to keep organised with scheduling, tax compliance, and billing – fortunately, all things that come naturally to accounting professionals.
What does freelance accounting work entail?
So, what does the typical freelance accountant do each day? Here are a few of the tasks that they perform for clients:
Preparing financial statements and budgets
Filing tax returns or giving advice
Forecasting profits and growth
Managing client expenses and company spend
Tips for starting a freelance accounting business
Whether you’re new to the accounting business or have years of experience working in-house with an accounting firm, here are a few top tips to get started.
1. Make sure your qualifications are up to date.
Clients will be wary of working with any accountant who doesn’t hold proven qualifications. You can make sure your skills are up to speed by taking courses from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT). If you want to advertise as a chartered accountant, you’ll also need to hold a qualification from professional bodies like the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).
2. Choose a legal structure.
One of the first steps to take is determining how to set up your business. You can form a partnership or register as either a sole trader or limited company. Limited companies will need to register with Companies House. It’s also important to register with HMRC to pay your taxes.
3. Purchase business insurance.
Protect your new business by taking out the right insurance policies. Examples include things like public liability, professional indemnity, and contents insurance. Cyber insurance is useful if you’re going to be dealing with sensitive financial information online.
4. Choose a niche.
While it’s possible to provide general accounting services, many freelance accountants opt to take a deeper dive into a niche subject. For example, you might focus on helping clients with their tax returns, or work on fraud investigations and audits.
5. Purchase the right software.
Cloud-based software is a huge timesaver for freelance accountants, who can log in and view important files remotely. Look for CRM, accounting, bookkeeping, and billing software to juggle the client management and financial aspects of your business. Accounting software can also submit your own Self Assessment returns to HMRC automatically.
6. Determine how to get paid.
Performing freelance accounting work offers no shortage of flexibility, but it means you don’t have the assurance of a steady paycheque. You’ll need to keep on top of invoicing clients and following up on payments. Determine which payment methods you’ll accept. Direct Debit is a great option for collecting invoicing payments because it puts you in charge of payment collection rather than waiting for the client to send money. GoCardless can help with this, and it also integrates with major cloud accounting software like Xero, QuickBooks, and others.
7. Create a website.
You might already have an established client base from previous work with an accounting firm. Yet no matter your level of expertise, it’s a good idea to set up a professional online presence for new clients to find you. This starts with creating a website listing your expertise, credentials, and services offered. With SEO techniques, you can then ensure it ranks highly in search engines.
8. Set up social media profiles.
Alongside your professional website, use social media outlets like Twitter and LinkedIn to promote your services and grow your network. Link to relevant content, share insights, and communicate with your growing client base.
9. Spread the word about your new business.
Use social media marketing, SEO, and traditional marketing techniques to get the word out about your services. You can also provide incentives like price discounts and cash bonuses to existing clients for referrals.
10. Know when it’s time to grow.
Finally, if you’re attracting more clients than you can handle, this isn’t a bad thing. This means your freelancing business is doing well and it might be time for expansion. Consider hiring staff to grow from a sole practitioner to a full-time practice.
We can help
GoCardless is a global payments solution that helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of financial admin your team needs to deal with. Find out how GoCardless can help you with one-off or recurring payments.