By Veechi Curtis, Lynley Averis

How do you picture your bookkeeping business? Are you content pursuing a small, home-based, part-time business, or do you want to grow your business to become a self-sustaining enterprise, independent from you?

Bookkeepers tend to follow one out of three different paths with their business (or occasionally all three paths, one after the other):

  • A simple owner-operated business providing bookkeeping services. This kind of business has no employees and the owner often works part-time hours.

  • An owner-operated business where the owner does most of the bookkeeping services but employs some casual or part-time assistance to help with office admin.

  • A business built by the owner that has a life of its own, where employees or subcontractors provide the bulk of the bookkeeping services, and the owner is more in a management role. Ultimately, the owner may even seek to create a franchise.

Which path do you want to take? Small owner-operated businesses can provide huge flexibility — you may have major family commitments or a day job that takes up much of your time. However, building a business so that it can operate without you is the only way forward if you want to generate profits that aren’t directly dependent on you and the hours that you work.

To grow your business, try to give the visionary spirit within you some room to breathe. Spend time thinking about how you can grow your business and create something that has a life of its own.

Define what it is that makes your business different. Maybe clients come to you because of your accounting software skills, maybe you have specific skills in a particular industry, or maybe you have a strong shopfront location. If you can figure out why you’re successful, and measure how much difference this strategy makes to your business, you’re well on the way to being able to replicate your success and grow your business.

Keep pushing yourself to think of your business as being separate from you. Instead of thinking about how much time you have available and whether you can take on any new clients, start thinking about how to build your business until you have so much work that you have no option but to take on employees. Instead of rushing from job to job, spend time analysing the way you work and what you do best.

Another thing to consider is consistency. Consistency is one of the secrets to business expansion. To guarantee consistency, you need to set up procedures and documentation. Checklists, complaints procedures, customer service procedures, email templates, good presentation and standardised rates are all part of creating a consistent experience for your customers.

The transition from owner to entrepreneur can be really exciting. Do you have a specific financial goal or a certain time frame? If not, spend some time thinking what this goal might be, and then building your business plan around this goal. Freedom from the shackles of the daily grind provides an opportunity to do the other things in life that have only been dreams up until now.

Good luck!