You don't need to have qualifications or be a member of a governing body to offer your services as a bookkeeper. however, to protect yourself and your clients, there are certain things you should have in place if you are starting a bookkeeping business ...
It may be you are an experienced bookkeeper from jobs you have had in the past, you know the software well, or you have successfully run your own business and do your own bookkeeping, so what do you need if you are setting up your own business and wanting to offer bookkeeping services to other people?
This is for Anti Money Laundering purposes. Make sure if you are not in one of the approved supervising bodies listed on the HMRC website and if you are doing work for others that could be considered to be an accountancy service then you can register to be supervised for AML by the HMRC.
Listed in the jobs covered is professional bookkeeping services so some virtual assistants might be caught by this too. There can be a fine line between 'admin' and 'bookkeeping' so once registered, there are certain things you need to do to comply with the legislation, but I will cover that in a future blog post.
Next up, register with the Information Commissioner's Office for Data Protection if you are going to be keeping personal data about anyone as part of your business. Registration costs as little as £40 though my view is if you are not sure if you should be registered or not (it can be a grey area) then for the sake of £40 it's better to be safe than sorry.
You're also going to need business insurance and, at the very least, you should get Professional Indemnity Insurance so that if you ever get sued for making a mistake, being negligent or offering poor advice you are covered.
We have a business package which includes insurance for our limited company (computers and equipment) and also Public Liability Insurance so we are covered if a client or a member of the public claims something you have done has caused an injury to them in our office or when we go on-site at clients.
Personally, I use a local Insurance Broker who I met through networking years ago for my insurance. If you get in touch with them, ask for Phillippa and mention my name. The advantages of using a broker are that they know the best products on the market and you can describe your business to them and they will do the shopping around for you to get the best deal.
When I first met them, we were paying over £900 for our combined insurances, and they reduced the bill by £300 and it has stayed that low ever since; it was definitely a good move.
And, as always, if you need help and support with getting going and specific help with Xero or Sage 50 software for you or your clients then do get in touch about my hand holding or bookkeeper mentoring services and watch out for Part 2 of this blog post next week.
If anything I've written here resonates with you, call me on 01604 420057 and let's see how we can help you.