By Georgina Fuller Run your business How bookkeeping helped me become my own boss 16 May 2016 Gone is the perception of bookkeeping as simple data entry and excel spreadsheets. Bookkeeping is a vital component of every business and bookkeepers require skilled knowledge to undertake diverse responsibilities. It’s also a very effective way of becoming your own boss. So says Claire Owen-Jones MAAT, who set up her own bookkeeping practice, Loud and Clear Accounting, in July 2015 after working as an accountant for ten years. “On a basic level you do need to enjoy working with, and be good with numbers to set up your own bookkeeping business,” she says. An interest and understanding of technology is also important. “Software and apps are becoming the bookkeeper’s silent business partner, so you need to know what ones are best for your clients and keep on top of their many updates.” Loud and Clear focuses on the dental industry but Owen-Jones also runs the compliance department for a local accountancy firm. “I wanted to create a cloud/virtual practice so I use Xero, Taxfiler, Receipt Bank, CrunchBoards, e-signatures and even an online AML check. My aim is to be totally paperless,” she says. “I would also add that you need to be interested in business development if you want to offer business advice to your clients.” Having a background in accountancy has proved to be very useful to Owen-Jones. “I think there is more pressure on the bookkeeper to understand accountancy; how the annual accounts are prepared, cash flows, KPIs and so on and AAT does a good job at training you in these things,” she says. Annette Powell, managing director of Zenza Ltd, a bookkeeping and payroll service, says there are a number of essential skills you need to become a good bookkeeper. “You need to be highly organised, have excellent attention to detail, be able to work flexibly, and to tight deadlines.” Powell, set up her own business in 2001 after completing the AAT Qualification. Powell was working as a tutor at her local college at the time and wanted a more family-friendly career whilst raising her three young children. She says the qualification equipped her with the skills to thoroughly understand the bookkeeping process from start to finish. “It also gave me the confidence that I have the right skills to support my clients effectively. Becoming an AAT Licensed Accountant demonstrates that you are committed to providing a high standard of work to your clients, should they be a direct client of yours or a sub contract client from an accountancy practice,” she notes. Steph Rickaby, owner and director of Sunflower Accounts says understanding bookkeeping is a fundamental part of any successful business. “It is essential and an HMRC requirement to keep accurate records,” she notes. “It is also important to be able to review your monthly figures, manage your cash flow and credit control function to ensure that your customers pay on time. All these aspects are really important in growing your business or helping you to make important business decisions. So whether you are a trained bookkeeper or not – you definitely need one when running your own business.” Fiona Scott, managing director of Fiona Scott Media Consultancy, says having a bookkeeping qualification has helped her support her clients effectively and run an efficient media consultancy. “By doing a course, you gain the necessary skills to conduct bookkeeping to a high standard. In turn you will gain confidence that you have the skills to support your clients effectively,” she notes. “Keeping up to date with a range of CPD courses ensures that you stay current on matters relevant to running your own business.” Photo: Claire Owen-Jones MAAT Georgina Fuller is an award winning freelance journalist and editor.