10 Tips to Become Successful in Freelance Accounting

 

Whether you want to build your own business or just make a little cash on the side, freelance accounting is a useful and sought-after skill. If you haven’t considered trying freelance, you might pay close attention to the challenges potential clients can face. Your timing could be perfect!

  • IRS audits are a growing fear among individuals and companies. Accountants are the hired guns—giving clients that confidence and ability to breathe.
  • Self-employed clients have the complication of personal finances, which have to be sorted, simplified and the variables analyzed. Accountants are critical lifelines to entrepreneurs who need to focus on building their business.
  • Everyone wants to take advantage of tax deductions and that’s where a professional CPA comes to the rescue. You can truly shine and prove your worth by pointing out travel expenses, office/supply deductions, student loans, and other tax-saving advantages.
  • Tax forms have become suffocating and daunting. The complicated dance we all have to perform for the IRS is intimidating at best. If you fill out the wrong form or miscalculate the information, the fact is, you’re screwed.

If you have the skill, you have an advantage. So what does it take to become a successful freelance accountant? Here are the top 10 tips to send you on your way.

1) Top of the Class

Stepping into the ring with other professionals, what will define you and make you stand out? Your foundation and advantage is your knowledge. You have to know your stuff and know it well. Clients are willing to pay good money for those facts, definitions, rules and regulations jammed between your ears.

2) Find the Right Pond

You’re not the only one who’s thought of going freelance, so don’t be shocked when other accountants pop up around you. Take the time to carefully think about, define and focus on your niche. The trick here is to target a specific industry, maybe even a company, and become indispensable to your clients.

3) The Power of the Geek

One of the advantages you have today is technology. I have several friends who run successful businesses out of an office that fits in their backpack. With just a laptop, software, a portable printer and the Internet, you can do just about anything. In fact, using today’s technology, your clients don’t even have to be in the same time zone to take advantage of your services.

4) Stay Limber

If you want to have an unfair advantage over your competitors, consider offering the services other guys don’t. Go the extra mile. Add extra perks, such as delivery, mailing or consultations in the clients’ home and/or business. Be personal and professional while adding a dash of convenience.

5) Become Invincible

Protect your information and client base by preparing for the worst. You never know when disaster can hit, which is why you need to be extra mindful of backing up data and creating copies, both virtual and physical.  Your laptop should always have an external hard drive attached. Perform weekly, even daily backups, burn DVDs weekly and store them in secure locations. Don’t forget to backup online, either.

[More accounting career tips...]

6) You Can’t Catch a Cold without Exposing Yourself

The only way you’re going to get clients is by networking. This is the key to generating a good income and building your business. Join small business groups, online forums, meet and greet associations—which are all good starts. Here are a few important networking tips:

  • Keep your pitch to 45 seconds or less. Potential clients don’t want to hear your life’s history; they want to know what you can do for them. Keep it simple and concise.
  • Stay upbeat. This does not mean spewing emotional vomit or sob stories, no matter how tough it’s been for you; be positive and professional. No one wants to hire a grumpy accountant.
  • You have two ears, use them. Listen more than you talk and ask questions. Focus on the other person, reinforcing their needs with the services you offer.
  • Stay focused. All conversations should be to the point and professional. Don’t discuss offbeat subjects that would make the conversation awkward or uncomfortable.
  • Know when to leave. Don’t suck up other people’s time—that’s as bad as ignoring them. A key is to be the first to “let people go.” Be the one to end the conversation by shaking their hand and saying, “It was great meeting you! There are some folks I promised to get in touch with while I was here,” and excuse yourself.  Be kind and gracious when networking and offer to make introductions.
  • Just a taste, not a buffet. Don’t dump your resume on people, online or off. This is about making and building relationships, which means a short email and a business card can go a long way.

7) Pick Up the Slack

A great way to build relationships and clientele is by providing your services as a backup to established accountants. Whether it’s a firm or an individual, offering your services, especially in niche markets, enables other professionals to outsource and offer referrals. Don’t forget to refer in kind.

8) Be Selective

Two issues that can put you out of business: Biting off more than you can chew and over-promising. Be very selective of your clients and make sure you can complete the job expected of you. A key to success is to make a habit of under promising and over delivering.

[Become qualified to freelance with an Accounting degree...]

9) Always Ask For Referrals

Every time you complete a job, it should be done with the goal of earning a recommendation and referral. Collect letters, post comments from satisfied customers on your website and always ask for introductions and referrals to potential clients.

10) Dress For Success

You won’t be expected to wear an Armani suit, but you should dress professionally to build confidence. People may not buy a book by its cover, but it does make them pick it up and consider. Clean cut with a nice suit or suit jacket, always accompanied by a genuine smile, will open doors, soothe feelings and help increase business.

And that’s our list. If you feel that we’ve missed something, please feel free to leave a comment below and give us your feedback. If you have personal experience in this area, we’d love to hear your input!

Informational resources:

Freelance Switch

Instigatorblog.com

eHow.com

CVTips.com

About the Author: This article was written by a guest author. Dwayne Thomas is a marketer and staff writer for cabletv.com.  He welcomes your feedback on Twitter @DwayneThomas15. 

 

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