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Advice on becoming Self Employed as a book keeper

Hi , I'm hoping to gauge some realistic 'time' and 'income' information from existing self employed book keepers

I have worked in finance for 20 years and due to now being a mummy of twins I am looking for something that I can start off doing 3 days a week but could build up once they start school.

I very nearly went into accounting early in my career but deviated to Banking instead.

Before I 'jump' from a comfortable salary (£25k for 3 days work) I want to try to understand the reality of being Self Employed in the book keeping profession

Can anyone advise on the following

  • To work 3 days a week how many clients (roughly) would I need
  • Do you charge clients hourly and if so what is an average rate per hour (so I can look to guestimate my income)
  • If I were to work from home what sort of expenses do you incur being self employed (i.e. What comes out of the hourly income)

Also, if anyone has any advice in general I would really appreciate your help

Many Thanks








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Some of the questions are really how long is a piece of string, but I'll give them a go. I service a number of clients on a monthly basis. They tend to take on average 2-3 hours per month and produce an average monthly fee of £75 (though I don't charge hourly). I would suggest if you're looking to fill 3 days of 7 hours per day then you'd be looking for billable work to fill about 18 of these per week. Although ever client, and ever bookkeeper is different, I would need about 28 clients. This would produce for me just over £25k per year turnover.

From that you'll have your membership costs if you go down a professional body route, and practice licence. You will also need to account for the extra heat and light, travel, equipment, stationery, advertising, web design and hosting and postage. I'm sure others will add to this list.

I would suggest, unless you're unhappy in your job, or it's not secure stick with it. The only way you would really make that kind of money over the time you have is by looking to employ others.



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In order of asking.

  • How long is a piece of string? If you find 1 client that wants bookkeeping services for a full 3 days each week, then 1. If you find 12 clients that need 1 day each month, then 12. If you find 24 that need... and on and on. It really just depends on what your clients want/need.
  • The average hourly rate (dependant on location and services offered) is between £10-20 per hour, but a lot of bookkeepers are moving to fixed pricing schemes.
  • TAX, NI, MLR, Insurance, Advertising, stationary, software licenses - the usual really. Any money you spend on the business will come out of the money the business earns.

All I will say is that it takes longer than you think it should (this applies to everything in my opinion) and to 'jump' from 25k for three days work to self-employment and expect £25k is possibly unrealistic - although I have no factual basis on which to rest that assertion on beyond my own financial forcasts; so maybe you will - who knows? Hopefully you will

Have a good "surf" about on this forum, there are answers on here to questions you havent even thought about yet. Best of luck!




my blog "the bookkeeper's in town - learning the hard way"


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Hi There

I would advise to stick on the £25k for 3 days a week in banking and perhaps start up the bookkeeping in your spare time (if you have any with 2 young ones) to see how it goes.

As you earn £25k for three days a week then this works out at approx £25 per hour assuming you work for 48 weeks a year.  You would struggle to earn £25k per hour being a self employed bookkeeper starting from scratch.  The average as has been said is probably between £10 and £20 per hour (if you can get the clients).  It may take a number of months to acquire the clients to fill 21 hours work a week (every week).  Some people may want bookkeeping done every week but probably the majority would be looking for a monthly or quarterly service.

I have started out this year offering bookkeeping, accounting and tax services this year (but also work full time in industry as an accountant).  Hopefully will build up client portfolio to do it full time but expect will take at least a year before i can think about doing this.  The costs i have incurred so far are

PII (Professional Indemnity Insurance)                 £141

HMRC Money Laundering                                      £110

Website                                                                £700

VT Accounts                                                          £239

Stationery/Business Cards/Flyers                        £400

Timesheet Software                                             £50

Advert                                                                  £90

Total                                                                     £1730

Some of these like the website are one off costs but others like PII and VT accounts are recurring annual costs.  Will also probably get SAGE 50 client manager once i get a sufficient number of clients wanting bookkeeping done.  Which is another major annual cost.

So hopefully you can see you are risking a lot giving up a secure £25k year and taking the plunge into self employment.

My advice would be to stick with the £25k for 3 days a week and enjoy the other 4 days a week watching your kids grow up (as you wont get this time back) providing you can afford to do this.




Mark Stewart CA

Providing accounting, bookkeeping, payroll and tax services to small and medium sized businesses across Central Scotland and beyond.


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My own attempt at self-employment a year or two ago wasn't terribly successful but that was I think sue to my wrong approavh and lack of knowledge of the market and what I could and couldn't . There are many of the members in my team who are earning more than that earn for three hours for an hour. I think self employed bookkeepers who want to make money should be looking past the TB and probably on tax return work that could make all the difference financially.

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