Are you thinking about starting a new career as a bookkeeper? Maybe you’re considering starting your own bookkeeping business. Regardless of the path you wish to take, you wonder: Is it hard to be a bookkeeper?
Being a bookkeeper is not hard. The job mainly involves categorising things correctly and entering financial information into accounting systems. No formal education is required to be a bookkeeper, and only basic math skills are needed.
Let’s go ahead now and take a deep dive into getting started as a bookkeeper and find out what some of their most common duties are.
How to Become a Virtual Bookkeeper
There are two ways you can become a bookkeeper – either work for a company as a bookkeeper or start your own bookkeeping business. Let’s take a look at how you can work from home as a virtual bookkeeper.
Many companies hire bookkeepers to take care of their financial records so they can concentrate on other things – like growing their businesses. Bookkeeping isn’t complicated, but it can be time-consuming for many business owners.
If you work for a company as a bookkeeper, you will most likely be paid a salary for your work. Yes, it’s possible to get raises, but for the most part, you are paid the same regardless of how hard you work or how many hours you devote to your job.
If you are the owner of a bookkeeping business, the amount of money you earn is determined by how many clients you take on and how good of a job you do. Many bookkeeping business owners work from home, which eliminates the need to lease expensive office space.
If you would like to learn more about becoming a virtual bookkeeper, Bookkeeper Launch is a proven system that shows you how to start a virtual bookkeeping business from scratch and grow it. In the program, you’ll learn:
- How to market your virtual bookkeeping business
- The bookkeeping skills you’ll need
- Systems to run your business efficiently
In addition to learning how to start and run a virtual bookkeeping business, if you join Bookkeeper Launch, you also get access to the world’s largest community of virtual bookkeeping professionals. This is a valuable resource where you can ask questions and get responses from people who are already running their own successful virtual bookkeeping businesses.
Check out Bookkeeper Launch to learn more about starting and growing a virtual bookkeeping business.
What Do Bookkeepers Do?
Is it hard to be a bookkeeper?
To answer that question, it’s important to have an understanding of what bookkeepers do. Bookkeepers may have different responsibilities depending on the needs of the companies they work for or their clients. Although they often work for companies, bookkeepers may also work for non-profit organisations.
Bookkeepers usually deal with the recording of transactions in a company’s financial records. When something is purchased for a business, for example, the person who made the purchase usually gives the bookkeeper a purchase order that includes the transaction details. The bookkeeper makes sure the transaction is appropriately categorised and then records it in the accounting information system.
Bookkeepers also take care of outbound payments. Some bookkeepers in larger organisations are known as “accounts payable bookkeepers” and specialise in ensuring all of the organisation’s bills are paid on time.
Bookkeepers also record inbound payments – the money an organisation receives from clients and other businesses. For a company that deals in a few expensive transactions a day, like a car dealership, entries may be made for each transaction.
Many bookkeepers do a combination of things. It often depends on the needs of the company they work for. A bookkeeper may reconcile credit card and bank accounts, record bills as they are received for later payment, make sure payments are processed promptly, and other things.
What Software Do Bookkeepers Use?
If you are wondering, “is it hard to be a bookkeeper,” you may be wondering what software applications bookkeepers use. While there are many different types of bookkeeping software applications that bookkeepers may encounter in their work, the following are three of the most common:
Quickbooks is the most common bookkeeping software there for a good reason. It’s intuitive and easy to use. While some accounting information systems have steep learning curves, Quickbooks is straightforward to learn and use.
Quickbooks allows businesses to manage their income, expenses, and other things easily. Companies can use virtual bookkeepers to categorise transactions, reconcile accounts, generate reports, and close the books each month.
Another popular accounting information system that many businesses use is Xero, which is cloud-based. Xero’s popularity is because it integrates with over 800 business apps, including PayPal, Stripe, Shopify, Bill.com, and many others.
Another accounting software application that you may encounter as a bookkeeper is Freshbooks. Designed exclusively for small businesses, Freshbooks is used by millions of people all around the world.
Although bookkeepers use bookkeeping software to maintain financial records for companies, they may still have to create a spreadsheet on occasion or a written document as part of their financial reporting or for other reasons.
Do Bookkeepers Need a Degree?
One of the most common questions asked by those wondering, “is it hard to be a bookkeeper” is whether they need a formal college education to work in the field.
The short answer is no – bookkeepers do not need a college degree to either work for a company or start their bookkeeping businesses.
The great thing about bookkeeping is that you can learn how to do the work on the job. While there are schools that offer two-year degree programs in accounting or bookkeeping, there is no formal requirement that you have a degree to work in the field.
That doesn’t mean a degree won’t help you. If you would like to work for a company as a bookkeeper, having a degree may help you stand out if there are several applicants for a position. Also, if you start your own virtual bookkeeping business, a degree isn’t necessary. However, if you do have a degree, you can use it as a selling point in your marketing.
It’s also important to point out that it is possible to become a Certified Bookkeeper, although it isn’t necessary to have this professional designation work as a bookkeeper. Like having a college degree, putting a Certified Bookkeeper on your resume could help you stand out when applying for jobs, and you could use it as a selling point in your marketing if you own a bookkeeping business.
Because there is no requirement that you have a formal education or other credentials to work as a bookkeeper, many consider this to be a factor that makes the profession relatively easy.
How Do Bookkeepers Work Remotely?
Many bookkeepers can work from home or from wherever they happen to be, thanks to modern technology. As long as a bookkeeper has a laptop computer, a cell phone with good reception, and a good internet connection, work can be done from many different places.
One of the main reasons it’s possible to work remotely as a bookkeeper is that many accounting information systems are now cloud-based. You can log on to a company’s accounting system remotely and update information from home, a coffee shop, or elsewhere.
This wasn’t possible as recently as a few years ago. Most companies with computerised accounting systems used to have accounting software loaded on each computer they used, and it was all tied together through a local network. To access a company’s accounting system, you had to do so from a company computer on the company premises.
But this is no longer the case.
If you own a virtual bookkeeping business and take on a new client, the client will create a new user profile and password to access their accounting system remotely. You can then communicate with your clients via email and telephone. If you live close to some of your clients, you can meet with them if you want, but it isn’t necessary.
Is It Hard to Be a Bookkeeper? — Final Thoughts
Bookkeeping is not a challenging profession. It’s something you can learn on the job through self-study or a formal college degree program. The math involved in bookkeeping isn’t complicated, either. If you can add, subtract, multiply, and divide, you can be a bookkeeper.
Is it hard to be a bookkeeper?
Not if you follow a system designed to take you from zero knowledge of bookkeeping to launching and growing your own virtual bookkeeping business – like Bookkeeper Launch.
Many companies need bookkeepers’ services to maintain their financial records to free up their time for other things. Bookkeepers are in demand! If you do an excellent job of marketing your services and do good work, there’s no reason why you can’t grow a virtual bookkeeping business into something you can be proud of.
Is Bookkeeping Hard?
As a cloud-based accounting solution, we often ask if bookkeeping is hard to learn, what it involves, and how it works. Most of those asking these questions are either business owners wondering if they should do their bookkeeping or people considering their career options. While we’ll try and address both sides of the issue, our focus will be on the business owners point of view.
So…is bookkeeping hard to learn?
You’re not going to like this, but the answer is both yes and no. And while this might sound confusing at best, we promise you it will all make sense after learning what bookkeeping involves. So let’s dive right into it…
Depending on your industry, the expertise and diligence required to maintain your books will vary. This is one reason that the question “Is bookkeeping hard?” is more nuanced than it might appear.
Given a lot of free time, many (not all) business owners are more than capable of doing their bookkeeping. But business owners often wear multiple hats and need to perform a list of high-level tasks to run correctly. Trying to divide your time between higher-level tasks and bookkeeping can create a stressful situation. Often it is the bookkeeping that gets neglected, which brings us to our next point…
Keeping books consistently is the key to creating a smooth experience. If you don’t have the time, the drive, the mindset or the know-how to stay on top of your books–you will find that bookkeeping is ten times the task it should be. Trying to dig through records and transactions from months past is a quick way to transform yourself into an archaeologist. There will be no exciting temples full of treasure or new dinosaurs, to name–only stale transactions.
Bookkeeping is not for everyone. A TD Bank survey that polled over 500 U.S. small business owners discovered bookkeeping is their most hated, with the next most hated task falling a whopping 24% behind. You are not alone if you don’t enjoy categorising transactions. And no task (even if simple) is “easy” when you not only don’t like doing it but hate it.
Bookkeeping is repetitive and a sometimes (okay, a lot of times) mind-numbing task. If you do not have the patience or a marathoner’s attitude, you will quickly find yourself burning out on the job.
Good bookkeeping requires communication. Chron.com writes:
“Durham Technical Community College reported that the most difficult part of their job was not maintaining financial records, which accounted for 50 per cent of their time. It was communicating with colleagues. Bookkeepers must maintain and balance financial records daily, including transactions from coworkers.”
Whether you’re looking to become a bookkeeper for employment or a business owner looking to manage your finances, proper bookkeeping will require you to engage with your employees to understand the businesses’ transaction history better.
“But wait, all these things you’ve written make bookkeeping sound hard!”
That’s because we haven’t gotten to the crux of the matter just yet. As any good scientist will tell you, theory and practice are two completely different concepts. And while we’d venture to say that, in theory many business owners are more than capable of accomplishing their bookkeeping, in practice, many fall short.
Is being a bookkeeper hard?
No. Given the right circumstances and knowledge, bookkeeping can be as simple as categorizing things properly.
Is being a bookkeeper hard?
Yes. For the every so busy small business owner, finding the time and energy to properly maintain your books can be a taxing and arduous task.
What does it take to become a bookkeeper
What does it take to become a bookkeeper? There are a lot of people wanting to get into bookkeeping right now because it’s something that you can do from home. You can certainly make a lot more money as an independent bookkeeper having your own bookkeeping business rather than working for somebody else. However, it’s not necessarily something that you can just jump right into just because you decide that you’re going to be a bookkeeper.
You need bookkeeper training. You need to understand the basics of bookkeeping, of accounting, and even have some tax knowledge in order to be able to serve a client properly. You need to also understand that bookkeeping isn’t just something easy that you can do without any training or experience. Bookkeeping can actually be difficult. Not necessarily because bookkeeping itself is difficult, but because we are working with clients whose books are usually not very clean.
In order for you to become a successful bookkeeper, not only do you need to understand and know how to do bookkeeping, but you also have to then (fairly quickly) learn how to clean up clients books. This is the equivalent, in some ways, of doing a surgery. Imagine that you’re a brand new doctor and suddenly you have to do a surgery.
That may be something that you don’t have that much experience in. You’d need some practical training first. It’s the same with bookkeeping, you need to look at investing in bookkeeping training. This can be from your local community college, for example, or a bookkeeping online training school, or look for other bookkeeping training ways.
Training is a must, but training doesn’t get you there all the way because then you need some practical experience. If you have never done any bookkeeping, then I want to encourage you to first actually get a job in bookkeeping by working for an accountant, a bookkeeper, or working at a company doing some accounting and bookkeeping tasks.
You need to get some experience and to see some real world transactions and see how a business actually runs.
The other thing that you need to consider is that learning bookkeeping isn’t enough. You need to understand the accounting and bookkeeping technology that you’ll be working with.
If that’s QuickBooks, for example, then you need to decide if it will be QuickBooks Online (the cloud based version), or QuickBooks Desktop (the desktop version of QuickBooks). There are different versions of each, so you have to then decide, which one you will be proficient at. Certainly QuickBooks Online is a lot easier to set up a virtual bookkeeping business because it’s a cloud-based software.
But it’s not something that you can just jump right into. Let’s say you know how to drive a regular car. That doesn’t mean you know how to drive a race car. QuickBooks Online is like a race car; you have to learn how to operate the race car before you can just dive right in and do it.
Another thing to consider is that you are creating an actual business when you are starting a bookkeeping business. That means that if you don’t know running a business, you also need to learn and get experience in running your own business.
That starts from determining the kind of entity (the legal and tax entity) that you will use to set up your business. It also involves having a plan for what your business will be or will look like in the future – having a business plan.
Considering whether you will remain a solo bookkeeper or whether in the future you would add employees or contractors. Those are all things that you need to think about as you think about setting up your bookkeeping business.
Also, even though there are no certifications that you are required to have as a bookkeeper in the United States, and just because it seems easy to get into bookkeeping, keep in mind that it can be difficult. You have to learn the technology as well as learning how to do bookkeeping.
Lastly, you also have to consider the role of a bookkeeper. In my opinion, doing bookkeeping and accounting is a very important role in a business. It’s not something to be taken lightly because you are dealing with that business owner’s finances. It affects their taxes. It affects whether they can make good decisions for their business based on the financial reports you are working on.
It affects whether they can grow their business. Again, all based on the financial data that they are getting out of their accounting system. Remember that if you’re the bookkeeper, you’re the one who has a lot of control over what that financial data and those reports look like.
It’s not something to be taken lightly! In my mind, it’s a great responsibility and a great calling for me, as an accountant, to make sure that my client’s books are accurate – and not just authentic but also delivered timely and correctly. So, I hope this helps you understand what it takes to become a bookkeeper and have a successful bookkeeping business.