Thinking of starting your own bookkeeping business? 4

Due to the success of my #AATstories video article, I have had hundreds of messages from students aiming to start up their own bookkeeping business. Most of the students are at the end of their studies. They also have experience which makes it a little easier for me to guide them in the right direction. However, if you aren’t qualified or have no experience this may help you in the future. Following on from this I have decided to do a short checklist of where to start. Hopefully, this can help new business owners keep focus.

This list is meant as a guide only, feel free to message me directly if you require personal bespoke advice.

Firstly, apply for your licence with your awarding body! This means filling out an application whereby you decide what services you will offer, and prove your experience in each service. I applied through AAT which was the only way for me as they completely changed my life. #AATlicencedaccountant

Remember, you can apply for a Bookkeeping licence after Level 3 if you are in a rush to get started, instead of waiting until after Level 4. However, before you can offer any services there are some legal requirements:

  • MLR Supervisory – To carry out work on behalf of clients you must ensure you have a Money laundering supervisor. If you are AAT, ICB or IAB Qualified you can apply for MLR through their awarding body. If ACCA, CIMA, ICAEW etc your licence is also covered by the awarding body. If no professional licence, however, you can apply for MLR from HMRC.
  • Professional Indemnity Insurance – You must have professional indemnity insurance to carry out bookkeeping work. Check with your awarding body for the levels required. I have used AXA as AAT Members receive discounted insurance.
  • ICO Certification –  If you handle information for individuals you are required to be compliant with data protection legislation and register with the Information Commissioners office.

AAT or any other accountancy body for that matter has a code of Ethics. Integrity, Objectivity, Professional competence and due care, Confidentiality, Professional behaviour. To gain a licence we are required to sit a test to ensure we understand and are compliant.

  • Professional competence and due care – Remember not to offer, or try to carry out any work you are not experienced in, or confident you can do!

Once you have your licence, MLR, Insurance, ICO etc you are ready to go and find your first client. I would advise business cards for networking, a website ( a one-page landing page will do with contact details and services offered), and set up Facebook, Twitter, and most importantly a Linkedin Profile! Contact local accountants, you would be surprised how many will reply, even just to offer you guidance.

Once you gain your first client do the best job you can, giving them an amazing service and you will find they tell their business pals. (This may not happen overnight). I personally had only one client for the first 6 months in my business. Before you know it though you will have grown a successful practice.

The best advice I can give here is :

Do what you say you are going to do.

Don’t let people down

Be focused on the client when working with them,


try to be clear and consistent when giving your advice.

Lastly, and by no means least, keep up with your CPD! You are now a business owner and will never stop learning.


  1. Register for as many online accountancy blogs, and magazines as you can.
  2. Get involved with online discussions and try to offer advice where you can.
  3. Refer anything outside your area of expertise to an expert
  4. Set up links with local and national accountancy practices

Good luck with your new business, Go set the business world on fire with your Unique bespoke practice. Have faith in yourself, you got this

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4 thoughts on “Thinking of starting your own bookkeeping business?

    • Nicola Donnelly Post author

      Thankyou Lucy, loved hearing all about your business idea. Remember your Homework 🙂
      Look forward to our chat Friday.

  • Premala Ravindran

    Good advice Nicola. I am hoping to start my own book keeping business soon. But I dont’t know where to start. After reading your post, I got little bit of confidence. I have worked in government sector most of the time after fininshing my AAT in 2000. Now I am re training myself doing the AAT level 3 . It is so different now a days. It is so easy to follow, subjects are brokn down in to small units. However, I cannot do corportin tax, self assessmnt etc, for which there are lots of demand. That is what I am worried about. I know all the other routine jobs such as Purchase ledger, sales ledger, Bank rec, VAT, management accounts, profit & loss accounts etc. So will I be able to get jobs with these experience only. Because I was working in school finance for a long time I lost louch with the private sector finance. Hope this wont be a problem once I finish my level 4 soon. Until such time bit of a blur.Can you give me some advice on this matter please. There are so many request for self assesment and corporation tax etc. Its a pity I cannot do them yet.