Monthly structure of hours for bookkeeping
Taking my CPA exams now: I am discovering I am having second thoughts about going to work for a traditional public accounting firm. I have discovered that freelance bookkeepers can make as much or more than a lot of CPAs. The most important thing to me is not the money, but freedom and flexibility that self-employment brings.
I talked to a lady a few years ago who runs a bookkeeping business with her husband. She told me she took 2 vacations that summer, limited to the first 2 weeks of each month, and then worked hard the last two weeks of the month to get her clients monthly bookkeeping in. She didn't mention amount of total hours between the two of them, but she said that it was far from the double amount of hours they would have done.
Coming from a construction background, I don't have a problem with working overtime each month if it means a couple of weeks off. This would also help me fulfill another desire I have had for years (I am in my 50s) : travel. If I had a couple of free weeks each month I could travel a good bit.
How viable is this business model?
Thanks in advance.
Interesting topic. The thing about freelance work vs employee work is that you are your own boss and can set up your business to suit your lifestyle. As your customers / clients are your new BOSS, as long as they are on board with your planned work absences, I can't see why it couldn't happen.
The amount of money you make will be directly related to the number of clients you service and the number of employees you have on staff.
With our technology today, you should still be able to check in with "work" while you are traveling if you set your systems up to work virtually. If you have staff, they can be trained to keep the business running in your absence with your input through regular scheduled virtual conferences.
One thing you will have to check with AICPA though is the requirements you must have to be in public practice. I'd check whether bookkeeping is considered public practice and what requirements you need to maintain your CPA designation.
In Canada, our certified accountants are strictly regulated if they wish to pursue public practice vs. private industry. They have to have met certain educational course requirements, insurance requirements, etc. Here, for example, is the link to CGA public practice requirements. (Note April 2015 - CA, CGA and CMA associations / certifications have recently merged together as CPA (Chartered Professional Accountant) in Canada and their public practice requirements are currently being developed.)
If your intended target as a CPA is going to be bookkeeping, I would consider registering with Universal Accounting. Their program instructs accountants and bookkeepers how to do books for small businesses in many different industries; which is different from bookkeeping for medium to large public companies. It is my understanding that most CPA training relates to GAAP which was developed for larger companies with third party investors and lenders. GAAP does not always make sense as a standard for small business accounting. I would definitely make myself familiar with AICPA's Financial Reporting Framework for SMEs. Here is the link:
FRF for SMEs was developed and published as a standard for U.S. companies that have NO intentions of going public.
Hope my thoughts from a bookkeeping perspective help even though I am not conversant with CPA requirements in the U.S. with respect to public practice.
I would welcome other bookkeepers and accountants opinions with regard this topic.