Hot Home Business: Accountant/Bookkeeper

Want to work from home but not sure what you can do? The Hot Home Business Directory helps you find a business to run out of your home, lists the skills you need to do it and tells how to get started and where to get more information. Read on to find out if this Hot Home Biz is for you!

What You'll Do:
Work with businesses and some individuals to provide tax planning and preparation of tax forms, monthly financial reports, audits, billing and payroll services. Certified Public Accountants have more technical training and require a higher level of education, and they are generally more involved in financial planning and other strategic business consulting services.

Skills You'll Need:
A head for numbers and great organizational skills are required to be a bookkeeper. Greater expertise in accounting, taxation, finance and business law are required to be a CPA. The scope of your training will depend on if you want to offer general accounting services or specialize in an area such as taxation or financial planning.

Equipment You'll Need:
The basics include a fax machine, copier and computer with spreadsheet, word processing and database software. An adding machine is also useful for tallying up receipts. Additional software and reference books, such as the yearly tax guide, will also be needed depending on the range of services you will provide. Novell and Microsoft are among the software companies that make accounting software packages, which can all be ordered online.

Start-up costs:
$2,500 to $4,000 for equipment (cheaper if you can find some items used, such as the adding machine and copier), and $200 to $2,000 for reference books, depending on the extent of services you offer. (The yearly tax guide alone is $500.) From $1,000 to $5,000 to market yourself via advertisements in local publications, and creating/printing professional marketing materials such as brochures and business cards. Additional costs for becoming a CPA include a four- or five-year upper-level education program, such as a master's in accounting (cost varies widely), and a fee for the CPA exam ($200 to $300, depending on which state you live in).

Monthly operational costs can vary widely, depending on how many clients you serve and whether they are a local or long-distance phone call/fax away. These costs can be itemized and expensed to clients, as well as deducted as business expenses on your yearly income tax form.

How much you can make:
Bookkeepers earn anywhere from $22,500 to $52,500 per year, based on working 30 billable hours a week at $20 to $35 per hour. Full-time home-based CPAs with an established clientele have an earning potential of about twice as much as bookkeepers, as their hourly rates are typically $40 to $70 per hour.

How to break in:

Networking by joining business and community organizations is a good start, as this is a business built on positive word-of-mouth. Specializing in a niche for a particular industry (high-tech, government agencies, small businesses) can help you establish a bankable reputation among a certain type of company.

For more information:

Accounting Essentials: A Self-Teaching Guide, by Neal Margolis (John Wiley & Sons, $17.95)

Organizations:
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
http://www.aicpa.org


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