How to start an accounting business

Find out what it takes to launch an accounting firm.

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To set up an accounting company you'll need to understand your target market, set business goals and ensuring the right legal documents are in place. And that's just for starters.

In this guide, we will look at the key points you should consider when starting an accounting business.

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What skills, knowledge or requirements may I need to start an accounting business?

Accountants need extensive training and a high level of business knowledge. You'll need to be versed in working with financial documents and organising large data sets. As such, you should be familiar with various budgeting and financial management software. You should also have the following skills:

  • Strong writing and communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Systems analysis
  • Time management
  • Organisational skills
  • Sharp eye for detail.

You'll need a business and marketing plan to help build your client list. Additionally, you'll want a mission statement that defines the essence of your business and conveys your business philosophy, relationship with your customers and more.

What courses or qualifications do I need to complete?

female accountant at work

Qualifications and certifications

The Institute of Public Accountants (IPA), the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia (ICAA) and the CPA Australia oversee the Australian accounting industry. With a diploma or an advanced diploma in accounting, you can get entry to the IPA. For CPA and ICAA accreditation, you'll need a Bachelor of Accountancy degree.

The yearly cost of getting a Bachelor of Accountancy degree is about $11,000 per year depending on the university you choose. It typically takes three years to complete the course. It takes between one and two years to get a diploma in accounting, and you can expect to pay between $1,300 and $10,000. Australian citizens who are eligible for government-subsidised training can do two subsidised accounting courses every year for free.

If you're new to the field of accounting, you might consider working as an intern to gain invaluable experience that you will need for your future business.

Licence

You will need a PPC (Professional Practice Certificate) before you start offering accounting services.

Here's a list of websites that offer accounting courses:

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Are accredited courses available? Are free courses offered? Payment methods
Training.com.au
Training.com.au - Accounting
Yes
No
Visa
Shortcourses.com.au
Shortcourses.com.au - Accounting
Yes
Yes
TafeCourses.com.au
TafeCourses.com.au - Accounting
Yes
No
Visa
Udemy
Udemy - Accounting
Yes
Yes
Visa,Mastercard,Discover Card,American Express,PayPal
ExpertRating
ExpertRating - Accounting
Yes
Yes
Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, bank transfer, cheque
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Equipment and software needed to start an accounting business

Furniture

You'll want to invest in some quality office furniture – that's likely to be the case if you're launching your company from home, or providing work areas for your employees. Basic accounting office furniture includes desks, office chairs, bookshelves and filing cabinets.

Computers

Computers help in keeping the customers' records and other necessary information. They also hold special software used in accounting practices.

QuickBooks

Used for bookkeeping and taxation, Quickbooks is one of the most popular types of accounting software. There are also forums and online training sources that you can use. You can use the app to capture receipts, generate reports and track business mileage. Advanced features include inventory management and time tracking.

Xero

This cloud-based software is also available for mobile device users. It has a simple interface that you can integrate with your third-party payroll service. you can even use this software to collect payments from your customers online.

Website

Register a website and create a responsive website. A web host will host the files on your website so that your customers can access important information about your business round the clock.

Patriot Accounting

Patriot Accounting allows you to select the accounting method that works best for you. The options that you have accrual accounting, cash basis and modified cash basis. You can use this software to create invoices, record payments and keep track of your invoices. You can also import bank transactions.

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Look into your personal loan options

A personal loan may be an option to consider if you're finding it tricky to get approved for a business loan. The table below shows a number of personal loan providers. Be sure you're able to afford the repayment plan, along with any added fees or charges, prior to applying for any type of loan.

Data indicated here is updated regularly
$
Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comparison Rate (p.a.) Min Loan Amount Loan Term Application Fee Monthly Service Fee Monthly Repayment
Symple Loans Personal Loan

From 5.75% (variable)
6.47%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
from 0% to 5% of the loan amount
$10
You'll receive a personalised interest rate from 5.75% p.a. to 25.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Borrow up to $50,000 to pay for what you need.
Plenti Fixed Rate Personal Loan

From 5.99% (fixed)
6.27%
$2,001
3 to 5 years
From $99 to $499
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate between 5.99% p.a. and 15.89% p.a. based on your risk profile
A flexible loan with amounts from $2,001 and terms starting from 3 years. Interest and comparison rates calculated for a loan term of 5 years.
Harmoney Unsecured Personal Loan

From 6.99% (fixed)
7.79%
$2,000
3 to 5 years
$575 ($275 for loans of below $5,000)
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.99% p.a. and 25.69% p.a. based on your risk profile.
Apply for a loan up to $50,000 and repay your loan over 3 or 5 years terms.
OurMoneyMarket Personal Loan

From 6.75% (fixed)
6.96%
$2,001
1 to 7 years
1.5–6% of your total loan amount
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate from 6.75% p.a. to 20.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
A personalised loan from $2,001 to $75,000 that varies based on your credit history and financial situation.
Alex Personal Loan

From 6.95% (fixed)
6.95%
$2,100
6 months to 5 years
$0 (waived $295)
$0
You'll receive a fixed interest rate from 6.95% p.a. to 19.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Borrow between $2,100 and $30,000 from 6 months to 5 years. Benefit from no ongoing fees. Note: Waived $295 establishment fee for all applications submitted before 15 February 2021.
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    What business structures should I be aware of?

    You should choose a business structure that you feel is right for your business needs. The available models in Australia include partnership and sole trader. For a partnership company, use a partnership agreement to highlight the terms of operation.

    CPA Australia spells out the pricing information for accountants who want to start a new firm. You should include the structure in your business plan to show the goals of your business, the services you will provide and the capital you need to launch the business.

    It's important to think about the following documentation prior to your launch:

    The business registration will include the Australian Business Name (ABN), Pay As You Go Withholding Tax, Goods and Services Tax and a Tax File Number (TFN). You can also go on the Internet to seek legal advice or download legal templates and customise them to suit your needs. Some of the templates include:

    Data indicated here is updated regularly
    Name Product What's offered? Starting price to become a member Annual Fee from Any free legal documents?
    Lawpath
    Legal documents and templates, Access to lawyers, Legal guides, Legal advice
    $79 per month (billed monthly)
    Essentials: $288
    You can view samples for free and you can create your first document for free.
    Choose an annual plan from just $288 and get unlimited revisions to your legal or business documents. Plus, unlock exclusive partner offers.
    LawDepot
    Legal documents and templates, Access to lawyers, Legal guides, Legal advice
    $7.99 per month (prepaid for one year)
    $59.88
    You can view samples for free and you can create your first document for free.
    Get free legal documents in five to ten minutes.
    Sprintlaw
    Legal documents and templates, Access to lawyers, Legal guides, Legal advice
    $699 (or choose a free template)
    $699
    Some documents are free to download. Get access to all documents with a membership.
    Pick between a fixed-fee package from $99 and a 12-month plan that unlocks a host of membership benefits for $699.
    Legal123
    Legal123
    Legal documents and templates, Access to lawyers, Legal guides, Legal advice
    Varies per template
    N/A
    No
    Get legal templates for any business type in Australia.
    LegalVision
    Legal documents and templates, Access to lawyers, Legal guides, Legal advice
    $199 per month (bill monthly)
    N/A
    Some documents are free to download. Get access to all documents with a membership.
    Your business can take advantage of unlimited lawyer consultations, fast turnaround times and free legal templates with LegalVision.
    Law Central
    Law Central
    Legal documents and templates, Legal guides, Legal advice
    Free for the Silver membership
    Gold: $99
    You can view samples and create your own document for free with the Silver membership.
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    How can I build up my customer base?

    To kick-start your marketing, consider printing business cards and hand them out wherever your preferred clients gather. You could get a magnetic sign printed to advertise on your vehicle. Be sure to include your name and phone number.

    You can also use social media and email marketing to promote your services. Lastly, online marketplaces offer a great platform for selling your services. Here are some of the platforms that you can use to build your customer base:

    • Airtasker
    • Oneflare
    • Hipages.

    These types of websites help you to gain access to potential markets and maximise sales. Online business directories are also useful assets to add to a small business' marketing plan. They are comprehensive and can help you reach potential customers.

    Some of the popular online business directories where you can list your accounting business include Infobel and AussieWeb.

    Frequently asked questions

    What are the different types of accounting fields?

    There are various types of accounting available, including auditing, tax accounting, managerial accounting, cost accounting and Fiduciary accounting (involved in trusts).

    What should a client provide before I start the job?

    To match the goals of the client, they should supply you with their source documents, such as the bank statements, sales systems, accounting software they use, accounts payables and receivables.


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