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How to Start a Bookkeeping Business

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by:

Mark Stewart is the in-house Certified Public Accountant, an accomplished author and financial media specialist.

How to Start a Bookkeeping Business

Fast Facts

Investment range

$2,600 - $6,000

Revenue potential

$72,000 - $660,000 p.a.

Time to build

0 – 3 months

Profit potential

$64,800 - $198,000 p.a.

Industry trend




How to Start a Bookkeeping Business

Many small business owners hire independent bookkeeping companies to take tedious bookkeeping tasks off their plates so that they can focus on growing their businesses. That’s why the payroll and bookkeeping services industry is worth a whopping $66 billion in the U.S.

If you have bookkeeping experience, you could start your own bookkeeping business to get a share of that huge market.

But in addition to the ability to crunch numbers, you’ll need to understand how to launch a business. Luckily, this step-by-step guide details all you need to know to start a successful bookkeeping business. 

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons


  • Growing market
  • Help small businesses reach their potential
  • Run your business from home


  • Experience required
  • Competitive industry

Bookkeeping industry trends

Industry size and growth

Bookkeeping industry size and growth

Trends and challenges


  • AI is increasingly being used by bookkeeping services to streamline processes and gain insights from data.
  • Bookkeeping services have begun to focus on helping their clients to operate more sustainably, which is a value-added service.


  • The bookkeeping industry is becoming increasingly competitive.
  • The advances in accounting software have allowed small business owners to handle their bookkeeping themselves without needing to hire a bookkeeping service.
Bookkeeping Industry Trends and Challenges

Demand hotspots

  • Most popular states – The most popular states for bookkeepers are Delaware, New York, and Connecticut.((https://www.zippia.com/bookkeeper-jobs/best-states/))
  • Least popular states – The least popular states for bookkeepers are Mississippi, New Mexico, and West Virginia.
Bookkeeping Business demand hotspots

What kind of people work in Bookkeeping?

  • Gender – 85% of bookkeepers are female, while 15% are male.((https://www.zippia.com/bookkeeper-jobs/demographics/))
  • Average level of education – The average bookkeeper is has a bachelor’s degree.
  • Average age The average bookkeeper in the US is 51.2 years old.
Bookkeeping industry demographics

How much does it cost to start a bookkeeping business?

Startup costs for a bookkeeping business range from $2,500 to $6,000. Costs include a computer, software, a website, and a marketing budget. 

You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your bookkeeping business, including: 

  • Computer
  • Accounting software
Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$100 - $500$300
Business licenses and permits$100 - $300$200
Website$500 - $1,000$750
Computer$1,000 - $2,000$1,500
Accounting software$300 - $700$500
Sales and marketing budget$500 - $1,000$750
Total$2,600 - $6,000$4,300

How much can you earn from a bookkeeping business?

You can generally charge $500 to $2,500 per month for bookkeeping services depending on the extent and complexity of the services. Your profit margin when you’re working by yourself should be about 90%. These calculations will assume that your average monthly charge per client will be $1,500.

In your first year or two, you could work from home for four clients, bringing in $72,000 in revenue. This would mean $64,800 in profit, assuming that 90% margin. 

As you gain traction, you might have 20 clients. At this stage, you might have an office and hire staff including other bookkeepers, reducing your margin to around 30%. With annual revenue of $660,000, you’d make a tidy profit of $198,000.

Bookkeeping Business earning forecast

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a bookkeeping business. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • Having the required skills
  • Breaking into a competitive market

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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a bookkeeping business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market. 

Market research could give you the upper hand even if you’ve got the perfect product. Conducting robust market research is crucial, as it will help you better understand your customers, your competitors, and the broader business landscape.

Analyze your competitors 

Research bookkeeping businesses in your area to examine their services, price points, and customer reviews.

  • Make a list of bookkeeping businesses that offer similar services. 
  • Review your competitors’ services – their features, pricing, and quality – and marketing strategies
  • Check out their online reviews and ratings on Google, Yelp, and Facebook to get an idea of what their customers like and dislike.
  • Identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. 

This should identify areas where you can strengthen your business and gain a competitive edge to make better business decisions.

Why? Identify an opportunity

You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a bookkeeping service that specializes in bookkeeping for manufacturing businesses. 

You might consider targeting a niche, such as bookkeeping for small retail businesses.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away. 

What? Determine your products or services

Your services should include at least the following:

  • Entering, coding and paying bills
  • Creating and sending customer invoices
  • Collecting accounts receivable
  • Reconciling bank and credit card accounts
  • Maintaining vendors for accounts payable and clients for accounts receivable

How much should you charge for bookkeeping services?

Your prices should be based on market prices in your area, but also on your costs of doing business, particularly once you have employees.

Once you know your costs, use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

Your target market will be business owners in your area. You can connect with them on LinkedIn or call them directly. 

Where? Choose your business premises

In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out an office.  You can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.

When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:

  • Central location accessible via public transport
  • Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
  • Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
  • Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Bookkeeping Business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Bookkeeping Business Name

Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “bookkeeping” or “bookkeeping service”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “ExpandBooks Solutions” and “InfinityLedgers” over “MedLedger: Medical Bookkeeping” and “RetailTally: Retail-focused Accounts”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
  • Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead and reserve your business name with your state, start the trademark registration process, and complete your domain registration and social media account creation. 

Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick a name, reserve it and start with the branding, it’s hard to switch to a new name. So be sure to carefully consider your choice before moving forward. 

Step 4: Create a Bookkeeping Business Plan

Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:

  • Executive Summary: Brief overview of the entire business plan; should be written after the plan is complete.
  • Business Overview: Overview of the company, vision, mission, ownership, and corporate goals.
  • Product and Services: Describe your offerings in detail.
  • Market Analysis: Assess market trends such as variations in demand and prospects for growth, and do a SWOT analysis.
  • Competitive Analysis: Analyze main competitors, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and create a list of the advantages of your services.
  • Sales and Marketing: Examine your companies’ unique selling propositions (USPs) and develop sales, marketing, and promotional strategies.
  • Management Team: Overview of management team, detailing their roles and professional background, along with a corporate hierarchy.
  • Operations Plan: Your company’s operational plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and equipment, and other logistical details.
  • Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss estimates, cash flow, and balance sheet.
  • Appendix: Include any additional financial or business-related documents.
what to include in a business plan

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business! 

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to bookkeeping business. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state. 

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your bookkeeping business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely. 

Here are the main options:

  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts. Here’s how to form an LLC.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation. Read how to start a corporation here.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
types of business structures

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have. 

Form Your LLC

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN. 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a bookkeeping business. 

types of business financing

Step 8: Apply for Bookkepping Business Licenses and Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a bookkeeping business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your bookkeeping business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.
types of business insurance

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.  

You’ll want to use bookkeeping software, such as Sage, synder, or Xero.

Create a website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism. You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

Your customers are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. 

Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Schedule Consultation Now”. This can sharply increase purchases. 

Online Marketing

Some of your business will come from the casual online visitors, but you should still invest in digital marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it’ll boost customer and brand awareness. 

Here are some powerful digital marketing strategies for small businesses: 

  • Social media is a great tool for promoting your business because you can create engaging posts that advertise your products:
    • Facebook: Great platform for paid advertising, allows you to target specific demographics, like men under age 50 in the Cleveland area. 
    • Instagram: Same benefits as Facebook but with different target audiences. It’s a very good platform for creative businesses. 
    • TikTok: This social media platform has over 1 billion monthly active users and it is used primarily by a younger demographic.
    • LinkedIn: the most effective place for B2B marketers.
  • Google and Yelp: For businesses that rely on local clientele, getting listed on Yelp and Google My Business can be crucial to generating awareness and customers.
  • Email marketing/newsletter – Send regular emails to customers and prospects. Make them personal. 
  • Start a blog – Start a blog and post regularly. Change up your content and share on multiple sites.
  • Paid ads on social media – Choose sites that will reach your target market and do targeted ads.
  • Payper-click marketing – Use Google AdWords to perform better in searches. Research your keywords first.
  • Do a webinar – Share your bookkeeping expertise online with a video seminar

Take advantage of your website, social media presence and real-life activities to increase awareness of your offerings and build your brand. 

Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing is any form of marketing that uses offline media to reach an audience. Some options that might work for a bookkeeping business include: 

  • In-Person Sales – Offer your bookkeeping services to local businesses
  • Cold calling Close more sales with less stress.
  • Sponsor events – You can pay to be a sponsor at events that are relevant to your target market
  • Seek out referrals – Offer incentives to generate customer referrals to new clients. 
  • Testimonials – Share customer testimonials about how your bookkeeping services helped them

Focus on USPs

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your bookkeeping business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your bookkeeping business could be: 

  • Ensuring meticulous and error-free financial records to provide clients with accurate insights for decision-making
  • Tailoring bookkeeping services to meet the specific needs of each client, offering customized solutions rather than a one-size-fits-all approach
  • Utilizing cutting-edge bookkeeping software and technology tools to streamline processes, improve efficiency, and deliver real-time financial data
unique selling proposition


You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a bookkeeping business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in bookkeeping for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in bookkeeping businesses. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. 

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a bookkeeping business include:

  • Bookkeepers – handle client needs
  • Marketing Lead – create and implement marketing strategies

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need. 

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Run a Bookkeeping Business – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

If you’re a bookkeeper, it could be a great time to go out on your own and start your own bookkeeping business. The market is growing, so your business could be quite profitable. You can build a team over time and really take your business to the next level.

You understand the business now, so you’re ready to find some clients and get your successful bookkeeping business started!

Bookkeeping Business FAQs

Is a bookkeeping business profitable?

Yes, a bookkeeping business can be profitable. By offering services that help businesses maintain accurate financial records and handle transactions, bookkeepers provide value to their clients. Many businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, outsource bookkeeping tasks to focus on their core operations. As a result, bookkeeping businesses can generate revenue through service fees charged to clients, and profitability will depend on factors such as the number of clients, pricing, efficiency, and overhead costs.

What happens during a typical day at a bookkeeping business?

A typical day at a bookkeeping business involves various tasks. These can include recording financial transactions, reconciling bank statements, processing payroll, managing accounts payable and receivable, generating financial reports, communicating with clients, and staying updated on accounting regulations. Additionally, utilizing bookkeeping software and tools to streamline processes and enhance efficiency is crucial to maintaining accurate records and providing timely financial information to clients.

What is the growth potential of a bookkeeping business?

The growth potential of a bookkeeping business can be significant. As businesses focus on their core operations, outsourcing bookkeeping services becomes more common. By effectively marketing and networking, a bookkeeping business can attract new clients and expand its client base. Additionally, as businesses grow and require more complex financial management, the need for comprehensive bookkeeping services increases. Expanding service offerings, such as financial analysis, budgeting, and advisory services, can further contribute to the growth potential of a bookkeeping business.

What type of business is a bookkeeping business?

A bookkeeping business typically falls under the category of service-based businesses. It provides professional bookkeeping services to other businesses, organizations, or individuals.

Can you start a bookkeeping business on the side?

Yes, it is possible to start a bookkeeping business on the side. Many individuals begin their bookkeeping business as a part-time endeavor while still maintaining their current job or commitments. This allows for gradual growth, building a client base, and testing the viability of the business.