3 Tips For Freelance Bookkeepers
Have you ever had a client skip out on paying an invoice? Have you ever had a client demand more from you than what was initially agreed upon, or blame you for something that wasn't your duty? Have you ever thought you knew what you were doing, just to have everything change? I have and here are my 3 tips every freelance bookkeeper needs to implement immediendly.
Before the pandemic I thought I knew what my professional life was. I was comfortable (give or take location) in my career as the bookkeeper for a large event center in Salt Lake City, UT. Free event tickets, I got to watch my son fall in love with hockey, a great work atmosphere with colleagues I enjoyed. I was even growing my private financial practice on the side. Then the 2020 shut down happened. Though I had worked remotely before, it was time to do so again. It was exciting revamping my consulting practice into what it is today. A boutique financial services and business development firm. As I began growing at a more rapid pace than I ever expected. I learned a few things along the way. In this article I am going to share those lessons with you.
Get A Retainer
Girl, Get That Retainer! I'll say it again. GET THE RETAINER! You don't want to end up working for free. I have cut people a break, listened to their sad sob stories, given business owners the benefit of the doubt and not charged a retainer. All for them to come back after services rendered just to bite me in the a$$. It's not fun working for free. My time is valuable and I'm sure yours is too. So get that retainer and make them aware of it upfront in the initial consultation.
A retainer is funds paid upfront. This assures that you are paid, and it assures the client your services will be available to them. This is a mutually beneficial financial move and it also builds trust. The way I have my retainers structured is that new clients pay an upfront $500 fee along with signing their new client consulting agreement. My services are for a 12 month term, this allows for at least one tax and audit season. If the client cancels their agreement before the 12 month term is up, I keep the retainer to cover cancellation fees or apply it to any outstanding invoice. If the client extends their service term, like many do, their retainer is applied to their 12th month invoice, as long as all invoices have been paid on time. I hope that wasn't confusing, it can be. This is very similar to how a lawyer retainer works, if you have ever had to hire a lawyer before. (hopefully you haven't)
2. Have An Agreement
Having a consulting agreement is essential as a freelance consultant. This document can be simply created off google drive or something your business attorney has worked up for you. Either way get one! This document is what all your clients sign before services are rendered. As a bookkeeper you will have access to a lot of confidential information and that comes with a lot of liability. The agreement outlines services and protects you as the consultant and the business owner as your client. My consulting agreement covers compensation (including all fees, retainer, hourly rates etc.) confidentiality, service terms, indemnification, and other terms of service. This document is concrete and both parties sign making it official. This will hold the consultant (you) and your client (the business owner) mutually accountable and liable.
3. Always Keep Learning
I have been in the financial industry for over 10 years and one thing I know to be certain is that nothing stays the same. Nothing changes quite like the financial industry. It's one of the things that make the mundane exciting. Especially, as a bookkeeper, it's important to stay up to date on the happenings going on within the tax policies, regulations, and laws. If you are a remote bookkeeper working within Quickbooks Online Accountant they always have free webinars, lessons, articles, and other resources available to ensure you are well informed on any industry updates. This saved me when I spent almost 8 months filing PPP loan applications and having clients emailing and calling me asking all sorts of questions. As a financial services professional your clients look to you to be just that.... a professional. Part of being a professional is knowing your stuff.
If you are looking to become a home bookkeeper, take your current bookkeeping practice remote or simply grow your clientele, I highly recommend checking out my Home Bookkeeper Masterclass. As it is currently on sale for a limited time. There you have it! My 3 tips for freelance bookkeepers. Let me know what you thought and feel free to share on social.
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