What to Expect as an Independent Bookkeeper: Four Lessons About Going Solo

When you decide to go on your own as a bookkeeper, you can expect many obstacles along the way. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome them and continue on your journey towards success.

For Karen Bignell, the reason behind her becoming an independent bookkeeper was simple: She needed the income and she wanted to control everything about her work that would get her to that goal.

So, Karen left her part-time job and decided to start doing contract bookkeeping. This meant she needed to step out of her comfort zone and face all of the challenges that were waiting for her along the way. Far from the safety of a steady job, Karen had to find a way to attract new clients and create a sustainable business model for herself. 

She was no longer working in the business - she was the business. Her new responsibilities involved getting to the forefront and handling the good, the bad, and the ugly that she had to face.

The beginning was excruciating. 

Luckily, Karen came upon Pure Bookkeeping and this decision opened the doors for her endeavor. She got on top of the initial struggles and received the necessary support on her journey. We can discover some valuable lessons from Karen’s story about what it takes to go solo as a bookkeeper. In this article, we'll explore four of those lessons and why they're crucial for the success of every independent bookkeeper.

The Lessons of Starting a Solo Business 

Lesson #1. Overcome Fear Through Taking Action

It's relatively well-known that most bookkeepers are introverts. This means that many people in this line of work have feelings that are stopping them from interacting with others freely. The introvert aspect becomes especially pronounced when it comes to marketing. Not surprisingly, many bookkeepers have no love for marketing even though it's a critical aspect of any business. 

When they need to go and speak with an accountant, various thoughts can go through a bookkeeper's head. Will the meeting be pleasant? Is the accountant going to be mean to them?

There's one sure way to get over these fears, and that's by taking action. 

If you feel uncertain about meeting people whom you've never met before, an easy way to build up your confidence is to start talking with those accountants that you know - those who you know will be kind to you. It will certainly take some effort to get over this obstacle in the beginning, but the good news is that you'll get better at it with experience.

Lesson #2. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Going solo is all about leaving your comfort zone behind

When you do a good job, you might get some referrals, but the number of new clients won't be nearly enough for growth. But if you really want to create momentum around your business and marketing, you'll need to expose yourself to situations that might not feel comfortable.

Most of us tend to shy away from these situations, which is why you'll need some kind of an accountability system. That way, you'll ensure that you're doing everything that you've set out to do. Just like overcoming your fears, stepping out of your comfort zone will become easier with time. The sooner you start, the quicker you'll find yourself feeling increasingly comfortable in specific situations that used to make your stomach turn in the past.

Lesson #3. Get Ready for Unexpected Situations

Even when you learn the ropes and settle into the everyday dealings and obligations of your job, there's one thing that you should expect: the unexpected will happen.

Whenever you start with a new client, there's a possibility that you'll need to do certain things that aren't run-of-the-mill or necessarily specific to your business. Having reliable processes in place can help a lot in those circumstances because you'll be able to rely on your best practice to guide you through the unexplored terrain.

Still, the thought of a potential surprise should never leave your mind. 

Since bookkeepers come across many different kinds of tasks and client demands, you'll need to build up your system so that no individual job can catch you off guard.

Lesson #4. Understand What You Can Do

If you haven't so far, you'll quickly learn that you know more than you give yourself credit for. Getting a firm grasp on what you know and what you're capable of can become your strongest asset. 

You should always be aware of your capabilities and rely on what you can do. It's something that will help you stay calm in every situation and handle every job the best way you can. 

A great way to explore the limits of your knowledge and experience is to start with lighter jobs. When you're certain that you can provide the service your client needs, you can start pushing your limits and building even more confidence.

After all, setting yourself up for a few wins is an excellent strategy in many ways. Your understanding of the bookkeeping business and your own expertise will only grow, and soon, you'll have no issues with facing even the most daunting tasks.

Becoming an Independent Professional

Going solo has much to do with gaining enough confidence, both professional and personal. And if you follow the vital lessons that we've explored in this article, you'll find that becoming more confident and assertive can be a matter of practice. 

Self-employment often seems much more uncertain than holding a company job. Despite knowing that, Karen took the risk and it paid off. And you can do the same.

If you start that journey prepared for what lies ahead, you'll see that the challenges aren't as daunting as they might look.

If you'd like to learn more about mastering your sales process, go ahead and:

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Michael Palmer

Article by Michael Palmer

Michael is the CEO of Pure Bookkeeping, the host of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast and an acclaimed business coach who has helped hundreds of bookkeepers across the world push through their fears and exponentially grow their businesses and achieve the quality of life they've always wanted.