Accounting is usually associated with purely full-time office work, so it was hard to imagine how it can be done on a freelance basis until recently. Luckily, today the variety of tools available on the market and modern technologies make it possible.
The process of becoming a freelance accountant may vary depending on the prior background but usually, it contains the following steps:
- Getting certified. To provide professional services, you will need to become a Certified Public Accountant. To pass the exam, you will need to have 120 college credit hours or a bachelor’s degree and qualify with the minimum age to be allowed to pass the exam and receive the license. Before applying, check if you match all the CPA exam requirements to make sure you are eligible or if you need to wait a bit before passing it.
- Building online presence. Start small and get a profile on freelancing platforms like Upwork to find your first clients. Then, it’s possible to launch your website so that your clients can find you, and actively use social media profiles and communities to look for better opportunities.
- Promoting your services. To start growing your career and income, you will need to scale your efforts and market your services. Here everything works from informing your friends and relatives to purchasing targeted ads to get more leads that later can be converted into clients.
As with any job, freelance accounting has both its pros and cons, so let’s take a look at them starting with the pros:
Pros of being a freelance accountant
Choosing the projects you like
The great benefit of freelancing is you choose what projects to take. Even in accounting, there’s a diversity of areas. Some people want to spend more time helping manage finances for small startups and individuals, while others get excited about large-scale projects for big enterprises.
Flexible work hours
If you don’t feel productive at 9 AM, there’s no need to force yourself to work, as you may shift the schedule to the time when it’s convenient for you. That’s probably one of the best things in any freelance opportunity yet equally valid for accountants when you are free to set your schedule.
Deciding on the workload and clients
Say goodbye to working late hours because you cannot finish the annual report due to prior budget planning. The huge workload is exhausting and can lead to burnout, especially when you are working for an annoying boss. On freelancing you decide how much workload is enough for you, and can refuse to work for a client you cannot find a common language with.
Along with pros, freelance accounting entails some drawbacks that can be a serious reason to stay in the office:
Lack of company-specific knowledge
You may be a true professional in accounting, but every company has its specifics you may not be always aware of. That is you may experience difficulties trying to understand how things work here because usually, clients forget to mention some specific approaches to PnL or operational expenses. It makes a huge impact on final calculations and can play a bad trick on you.
Searching clients on your own
You may love accounting but it’s only half of the responsibilities. The other half includes searching for clients, marketing, and doing sales to become a successful freelancer. It may be an issue when you have trouble presenting yourself or do not want to spend several hours per day on prospecting and researching marketing strategies.
Usually, freelance accounting services are in demand for small companies that cannot afford in-house specialists, thus, they tend to offer lower wages which makes a significant drawback. However, when you gain experience and positive feedback, you will be able to set your pricing and refuse such offers.
Being a freelance accounting is not for everyone, as sometimes it can be more stressful than an office job, and requires a high level of discipline, but if the idea of flexible work hours and workload sounds tempting, there’s always a possibility to try a short term freelance opportunity while working in-house to see if it worth making a complete switch towards self-employment.