Self Employed Bookkeeping


I gained MAAT status this year and am hoping to provide a small number of clients with bookkeeping services. I am employed full time as a Finance Manager for an online retailer (£3 million annual turnover) and complete all of their accounts throughout the year on Sage50 including quarterly VAT returns and monthly Payroll, this has been my role for the last two years. The Management Accounts are prepared by my Manager and which I help with but am not convinced I could manage on my own. Ideally I would prefer to move into Financial Accounting but am very aware that given my lack of experience in a practice a junior role would mean quite a severe paycut! Therefore offering self employed bookkeeping services would mean experience on my CV. I have a few questions which anyone currently offering bookkeeping services may be able to help me with.

1. If you are offering bookkeeping services to small business clients is it usual to offer to prepare their Profit and Loss and Balance Sheets or should this remain the domain of the Chartered Accountant?
2. Would you advise investing in Sage or will Excel suffice?
3. Is there an advisable fee per hour to charge? From my research it seems to vary wildly with people with no qualifications charging up to £20 per hour!
4. Is it worth offering to run Payroll bearing in mind I do not currently have Payroll software?
5. I am planning to send AAT an email regarding what to do next (MIP and Insurance) but is there any advice you can give on the best way to go about the initial set up?

Thanks in advance for any advice or help.


  • Gem7321
    Gem7321 MAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,438
    1. Normally it is bookkeeping to trial balance but clients may often ask to see a P&L to know how the business is performing. I would expect a bookkeeper to also offer management accounts.
    2. There are (cheaper) alternatives to sage.
    3. Depends on your location and experience, £15 seems to be the benchmark.
    4. Only if you are confident in offering payroll, again cheap/free software is available. Are you knowledgeable enough to be able to advise clients on auto-enrolment?
    5. Once you have registered etc get a decent website and put up some local adverts to get started, but the best advertising is word of mouth. Make yourself known to local companies and hopefully they will recommend you. Also you may need to check your current employment contract to make sure you are able to moonlight.
  • Lizzi
    Lizzi Registered Posts: 4
    I would pretty much agree all with Gem7321 has said.
    I run a small bookkeeping business. Some clients couldn't care less/ don't want to understand a P&L, and are only interested in their cash-flow. Others, especially those with a 'finance' mind, like to see regular management accounts, including draft P&Ls and Balance Sheet. Then their year end is not such a surprise!
    I do use Sage. I was lucky at the start, as I got to know a friendly accountant, who gave me one of his old copies!
    Charge £20 if you are able to! I was charging £17-£18 until recently - then found someone had set up in the next village with no (and I mean no) experience of small businesses, quoting £20! So far I have pitched to 2 clients who have seen both me and this 'newbie' and I have won both of them. Come over in a professional way - and sound like you know what you're talking about. (Even if you don't!)
    I hate payroll! I've found someone I can pass this on to.
    Get the website set up. Then 'get out there' as it were. Networking is great, as is getting to know local accountants. Best referrals come by word of mouth. Cheapest way to advertise is to put cards in shop windows.
    And stick at it! The rewards will come with time.
    Claire RStuartW
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