How to be a freelance accountant

Freelancing has been a buzzword for quite some time now thanks to all the perks that come with it. Hence, it’s undeniable that more and more people, including you, are looking into the possibility of scoring some freelance jobs.

But “Where do I start?” seems to be the most common question.

So here we’re listing down some of the steps to set the ball rolling.

Be certified and competent

Whether we like it or not, clients would choose certified public accountants over those who haven’t taken the licensure exam yet–even if you have bookkeeping certification.

So before getting all excited about this new venture, make sure you have already passed the CPALE.

You also have to create a name in the field. One way to do that is to join groups or forums such as Quora and give pro bono advice, tips, and comments. Follow relevant topics such as Accounting or Accountants then share your answers with your Facebook and Twitter followers. Quora supports instant share feature.

You may also create a Facebook or LinkedIn page where people can give you reviews and recommendations for your services.

A website is another great idea because it’s where you can showcase your portfolio. Blogs containing your insights on topics related to your expertise are plus points.

Get enough experience

If you haven’t gathered enough experience by now, it’s time for you to do so.

Accounting jobs are pretty much in demand these days, so you should not have a problem getting one.

Facebook groups such as Tax Help in the Philippines, Philippine Tax, Accounting, and Audit Forum, and Accounting Coach Philippines usually have posts about job opportunities, so be sure to check them out.

These groups also provide tips and coaching for proper reports preparation, which are highly beneficial if you’re just starting out.

Identify your niche

Why do you need a niche? Because almost every industry has different needs. This is particularly true if you’re eyeing the international market.

In the US, for example, there are forensic accounting, estate accounting, accounting technology, mergers and acquisitions, and international tax.

For the local industries, however, almost all accounting needs are similar, but it’s still a great idea if there’s one niche you can specialize on because you’ll be more familiar with the terms they use.

Cover the legal side

You’ll be a practicing professional, so make sure to register your business. You have to register as a Professional, and not a Sole Proprietor at the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

iMoney has a step-by-step guide on how to do so.

Once you are registered, make sure that you avail indemnity insurance. This is to protect and your practice in case a client decides to sue you because the advice you gave them resulted in financial loss.

There are several companies that offer this service in the Philippines: Malayan, QBE Seaboard, UCPB General Insurance, Axa Charter, and so on.

You may also join the Facebook group Pinoy Insurance Talk so you can find the company that’ll fit your needs and budget.

Get the right tools

Laptop

The first tool you need to have is a reliable laptop. For crying out loud, don’t be a cheapskate when it comes to your machine. This will contain all of your clients’ files, so make sure it has enough space. It will also run all the apps you need, so it better be fast.

You don’t like apps to take forever to open, do you?

Internet

You’re working remotely; thus, it’s safe to say that the Internet will be as crucial as the air you breathe.

So get the most reliable connection. It can be DSL, Fiber, or Wireless. But if you plan to be traveling a lot, make sure to have a pocket Wi-Fi device with you.

Accounting Software

Accounting software should be your only choice if you’re planning to be a freelancer. Spreadsheets are good, but they’re inefficient.

Accounting software, on the other hand, makes it easier for you to track financial data, collaborate with your clients, and switch accounts anytime you want.

For local clients, Oojeema offers a plan starting at only PhP800/month. For international ones, there are other options for a higher price.

Find your clients

Once you’ve covered everything above, it’s time for you to get your first client. We know it will be daunting, so we’ve got that covered for you.

We listed down several ways to get you accounting clients, and here is the first part. Make sure to check the other lists and other tips to get you more clients.

Practice professionalism

This may be a given, but sadly, not everyone understands how crucial this is.

Bookkeeping and accounting are vital to every business. One wrong number could mean a hefty penalty from the BIR.

Thus aside from all the points listed above, you have to ensure that you are ethical and professional in all your dealings.

Monster listed down ten ways to show professionalism and here are some of them:

  • Competence. Being good at what you do is part of being a professional. If a client asks you to perform a task that’s still Greek to you, be upfront with it.
  • Reliability.  This means you should be able to keep private information confidential, meet deadlines, be consistently accurate in all tasks, show up on time at meetings, etc.
  • Honesty. Our culture has the tendency to sugarcoat a problem or avoid the issue altogether to steer clear from confrontations and arguments. If you made a mistake, let your client know about it and at the same time offer solutions to the problem it may have caused.
  • Respect. You will meet different types of clients. Being respectful to each one of them is necessary. However, you should also know when to stand your ground to avoid being a doormat. Mike Michalowicz suggests acknowledging their points but do not always agree.
  • Stay up-to-date. This may not typically relate to professionalism, but keeping yourself updated, particularly in terms of theories and practices in accounting, leaves the impression that you want to deal with clients’ concern the best way possible. And that is something your clients will value.

By and large

Being a freelance accountant starts with getting yourself out there, proving that you have what it takes to solve clients’ problems.

Basically, it starts getting the right education, license, and certification coupled with enough experience and untainted reputation.