Considering going self-employed, and need advice.

marknotgeorge Registered Posts: 158 Dedicated contributor 🦉
I'm currently studying Intermediate AAT and IAB Level 3 Payroll, having done Foundation and Level 2 Payroll last year. I'm enjoying both immensely, and I want to put my knowledge into practise. Trouble is, I'm 36 with no prior financial experience, and I'm having trouble with the no-experience-no-job vicious cycle. In any case, finding a job that I can use both my AAT and Payroll knowledge is difficult enough.

So I'm considering the self-employed route. This would be better for child care, and I can use my knowledge the way I want to. Trouble is, it's hard to know where to start, so I plan to start trading in April, ready for the new financial year. This should give me plenty of time to get up to speed.

Here's the results of my research so far:
  • As I'm not an MIP, I need to register with HMRC for money laundering, self-employed status and as an agent. Anything else?
  • I'm planning at the start to offer bookkeeping, final accounts for sole traders and payroll, and add further services as I continue my development. Sensible?
  • I plan to turn this into a family business, and enlist my step-daughter, who's studying with me and working part-time in payroll as a partner.
  • Software. I have Excel and MS Office Accounting Express, and I should be able to get MSOA Pro to start. For payroll, I could use the HMRC Disc, or Moneysoft(?). Would it be worth joining the Sage Bookkeeping Club straight off, or wait until the ball's rolling.

I feel that I really need some good advice.



  • deanshepherd
    deanshepherd Registered Posts: 1,809 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    Hi Mark

    You need to check with the AAT and IAB as to their rules on whether you are allowed to work on a self-employed basis without having finished the qualification. I must admit I did not consider going self-employed myself whilst I was studying so I am not sure what the rules are in this regard.

    Taking your other points in turn:

    - You should offer the services in which you feel confident that you can provide a professional service to the general public. You say you have no experience yet so that would worry me in terms of what services you want to offer. Perhaps you could contact local AAT members in practice, or indeed other accountants, bookkeepers or payroll bureaus, to see if they will give you some experience on a subcontract or part-time basis. That way the buck stops with them if any mistakes are made whilst you are still gaining experience.

    - Software tips: I could whole-heartedly recommend Moneysoft payroll and would never use HMRCs system just to save the £100. As for other software it really depends on who your clients are and their needs. Sage is a safe choice, providing you know how to use it, as it is so widely recognised in the industry. It is, of course, prohibitively expensive so wait and see what your clients needs are before purchasing.

    My biggest tip would be to keep pushing for a job in an accountancy firm. The knowledge and experience you will pick up from others will be invaluable to you when you go it alone.

    Good luck!
  • Bluewednesday
    Bluewednesday Registered Posts: 1,624 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    And I would give up on MOA as I have found it so slow that as soon as the year end is up I'm transferring my client on to Sage!
  • JJ43
    JJ43 Registered Posts: 50 Regular contributor ⭐
    In addition to registering with HMRC you would also need professional indeminty insurance to cover yourself for MLR.

    Also you would not be permitted to advertise yourself / services using any reference to AAT / IAB as you are not a full member yet.

    At first only provide the services that you are confident in, so it is sensible to add services as you progress. If you are targeting sole traders, small businesses then most are happy to take accounts up to TB, again, start with the more simple, straightforward accounts and build up.

    In terms of software, Sage is in my opinion the best but you may find that some clients still prefer the old pen and paper method of accounting !

    The Sage Bookkeepers Club is worth looking into, but I would wait to build up a few clients first.

    Good luck.
  • marknotgeorge
    marknotgeorge Registered Posts: 158 Dedicated contributor 🦉
    Thanks all. Sorry I haven't replied earlier, but Christmas and sorting out the house got in the way. I can see I've a lot to think about, especially with no experience. Which is frustrating, as I know I can do the work. The idea of sub-contracting is a good one, which I may well pursue.

    Then again, maybe I should go back to my original plan, and not worry about employment until I've finished Intermediate...
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