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How Much Does It Cost to Start a Bookkeeping Business

11 Min Read

cost to start a bookkeeping business
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Writing a business plan?

Are you a skilled bookkeeper looking for an entrepreneurial opportunity? Well, with your futuristic vision, you can start a bookkeeping firm and turn it into a rewarding profitable business in no time.

Whether you plan to venture as a self-employed bookkeeper or as a business owner who would be employing many bookkeepers at the firm- you will need money to give your business a headstart.

Before you start wondering how much does it cost to start a bookkeeping firm, go ahead and give this blog post a read.

This article offers a detailed understanding of factors that influence the start-up costs for a bookkeeping business and a breakdown of costs to help you get better clarity.

So let’s get started.

Average costs for starting a bookkeeping business

Before we dive into details, check out this bookkeeping startup cost checklist. It will help you plan your startup budget and know how much financing you need to get started.

Item Average Cost(Mid-Sized Firm) Average Cost(Home business)
One-time Expenses
Lease deposits $6,000-$15,000
Leasehold improvements $5,000-$20,000
Furniture $8,000-$25,000 $0-$3,000
Hardware (Desktop, Printer, and Scanner) $3,500-$8,000 $600-$1,500
Accounting software (annual subscription) $300-$2,000 $150-$1,200
Office Supplies $50-$150 $50-$100
ERP system $1,500-$5,000
Security system $250-$500 $50-$100
Business registration $150-$300 $150-$300
Licenses $100-$200
Insurance $500-$2,000 $100-$600
Website $300-$3,000 $300-$1,000
Marketing materials $100-$500 $100-$150
Certificate $200-$800 $200-$800
Total One-Time Expenses $25,900-$82,400 $1,700-$8,700
Recurring Expenses (Per Month)
Lease $3,000-$7,000
Payroll $12,000-$15,000 $0-$3,000
Utility bills $1,000-$1,200 $100-$300
Monthly marketing $500-$2,000 $200-$1,000
Internet charges $60-$500 $60-$500
Total Recurring Expenses $16,500-$25,700 $300-$4,800
Total $42,400-$108,100 $2,000- $13,500

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How to calculate the cost of starting a bookkeeping business

You now have a list of potential expenses and a rough estimate of your startup costs. Let’s estimate your actual startup costs using these two proven methods.

The first, traditional method involves using a startup costs calculator to estimate the startup costs. However, the second, the Upmetrics method, is an innovative method that uses the Upmetrics financial forecasting tool.

Let’s understand both methods so that you can choose one that suits your requirements the best.

The traditional method—startup costs calculator

The calculator includes categories such as pre-trading, website setup, marketing, operations, and people. You can enter the estimated costs in each field and let the calculator estimate the costs for you.

Remember that many startup costs fall under recurring expenses, so cover those costs monthly, quarterly, or annually.

Calculate your startup costs using this calculator.

The Upmetrics method—financial forecasting tool

It is an intuitive and efficient method of calculating startup costs. Using Upmetrics will not just help you estimate startup costs but also help with financial forecasting.

All you need to do is enter your sales, costs, and other financial assumptions and let the tool calculate monthly/quarterly/ and yearly projections for you.

Pro-tip

Check out the financial forecasting tool for accurate financial forecasting. Once you have an accurate estimate of startup costs, you can easily identify funding requirements for your bookeeping business.

Financial Planning to calculate startup costs

Calculate Your Startup Costs

Raising funds for a new startup is certainly a nerve-wracking and time-consuming process, but having a solid bookkeeping business plan can make things a lot easier.

Let’s move ahead and discuss the factors that affect your bookkeeping startup costs.

Factors that affect bookkeeping startup costs

1. Location

Location is the most important factor influencing the startup costs for any business. Bookkeeping businesses are no exception, especially if you plan to have a commercial office setup.

Be it lease, payroll, refurbishment, or licensing—the location of your bookkeeping business directly influences the cost of all these elements.

For instance, if you consider opening your bookkeeping business in bustling cities like New York or San Fransisco, be prepared to spend large sums of money every month on rent. Generally, the rent at these places can soar as high as $80,000 per month.

Pricey, right?

Well, even within the same city, the location price varies significantly. That being said, getting a place in Brooklyn is much cheaper compared to getting an office space in Manhattan.

Similarly, the payroll expenses in the metropolitans would run on an excessively high note.

So before you finalize any location, weigh your choices and give costs a serious consideration.

2. Lease and Mortgage

If you are planning to get an office setup for your bookkeeping business, you have one of two choices to make:

  • Buy an Office
  • Lease an Office

Of course, you can also build the office but that’s going to cost you a lot. To give you a rough estimate, it is somewhere between $300,000-$1M.

Considering you require $1,000-$3,500 sq. ft. of space to open your bookkeeping business, the downpayment for space would cost you $200,000-$350,000.  This could soar excessively higher in prime bustling locations.

However, leasing is comparatively cheaper and cost-effective. It’s easy to find office space leasing anywhere between $7-$29 sq. ft. in thriving locations.

Generally, you should budget $3,000-$7,000 for a monthly lease depending on the location, and $6,000-$15,000 for lease deposits before finalizing the contract.

3. Leasehold Improvements

Getting your office space ready is another prominent expense you will incur for your bookkeeping business.

Generally, an office space would require a series of leasehold improvements in areas of HVAC, plumbing, flooring, finishing, and painting. The costs for these could run anywhere from a few thousand dollars up to $250,000.

Instead, find an office that doesn’t require much work and can be made functional with few modifications. Even in such cases, the basic modifications and decor would cost you $5,000-$20,000.

Additionally, consider the cost of furnishing the office with chairs, tables, storage cabinets, and essential furniture. As long as you are not aiming for plush decor, equipping the office with furniture can cost you between $8,000-$25,000.

4. Payroll

Salary and wages are prominent expenses you will incur every month.

Now, depending on the number of people you hire for the bookkeeping services, the salary expenses vary greatly.

Generally, a bookkeeping firm needs to hire a couple of bookkeepers, accountants, administrative staff, and a receptionist to run their business operations efficiently.

Taking the figures into account, the median accountant pay in the US is $78,000 and that of a bookkeeper is $43,971 annually.

Now refer to your business plan and identify your staffing requirements. Calculate the hourly wages and salaries accordingly to add to your start-up costs calculation.

Generally, paying salaries for 2 bookkeepers, 1 accountant, and a receptionist would cost you $12,000-$15,000 every month.

5. Hardware and Software

You don’t need to invest in many hardware or tools to offer bookkeeping services. A couple of computers, a printer, and a scanner will set you on the right path.

According to a report by Index Box, the average price of a desktop computer in the US is $529. Now if you are singlehandedly planning to run your bookkeeping venture, a basic investment in a laptop and a printer would cost you somewhere between $600 and $1,500.

However, if we are talking of a team, the expenses on computer devices could span anywhere from $3,500-$8,000.

Now, to deliver efficient bookkeeping services you need bookkeeping and accounting software.

A few of the best small business accounting software in the market include Zoho, Quickbooks, Sage, and Xero varying in monthly prices between $13-$100. Compare the plans and features of these bookkeeping software and make your choice.

Now, many organizations may consider getting an ERP. While this is not required for small firms, organizations with large teams and complex operations can consider getting an ERP, costing somewhere between $1,500-$5,000.

Lastly, for data protection, you will require a robust security system that will cost you $250-$500 annually.

6. Legal Compliance and Business Set-Up

The cost of registration varies between states, however, it would span anywhere from $150-$300.

Now, depending on your business structure you must apply for tax registration by paying a negligible fee of $5-$100.

Consider getting a business bank account to keep your personal and business finances separate. While opening a business bank account is generally free, some banks may charge a monthly fee ranging from $10-$15.

Further, consider the licenses you would require apart from a basic business license. Generally, for your commercial office space, you require a zoning permit and an occupational permit. Getting these licenses would cost you not more than $200.

In terms of insurance, consider getting errors and omissions and professional liability insurance. Depending on the scale of your business, the costs for these can vary between $500 and $2,000 annually.

All in all, the compliance costs are quite negligent for a bookkeeping business compared to other businesses.

7. Marketing and Advertisement

Amongst the different expenses, the costs for marketing and branding also add to your list of start-up costs.

Ideally, you will require a functional website offering information regarding your business, services, clients, and pricing plan. The cost of building a website along with domain and hosting would cost you somewhere between $300-$3,000.

Further, you can consider the costs of getting business cards, flyers, and pamphlets ready. This would span anywhere from $100-$500. However, if you are thinking of billboard advertising, it would cost you $10,000+.

Also take into account the cost of SEO, content marketing, Email, paid ads, and social media marketing every month. Companies spare 2-3% of their monthly revenue or $500-$2,000 on marketing activities monthly.

Now, revise your business plan and read the financials to accommodate the budget for bookkeeping business marketing.

8. Certifications

Now, certification is not mandatory for running a bookkeeping business. However, it is strongly recommended to earn a reputable image in the market.

To get your badge of CPB, you can consider getting certification from the following:

  • American Institute of Professional Bookkeeping(AIPB): $574 for members, $734 for nonmembers.
  • National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB): $200 for members, $250 for Pro members

Apart from this, you can also choose certification programs offered by renowned accounting software. This includes choosing between the Xero Partner program, FreshBooks Partner Program, and Quickbooks proAdvisor.

And those are pretty much all the expenses you would incur while starting your bookkeeping firm. Now, let’s learn a few practical ways to reduce your startup expenses considerably.

Tips for reducing bookkeeping startup costs

Looking for ways to reduce your startup expenses? Well, here are some logical ways to bring down the start-up costs for your bookkeeping business.

1. Start with a home office

Starting with a home office will not only save expenses on your lease and mortgage but will also zero down your renovation and decor expenses. Moreover, it is ideal that you wait for your clientele list to build up before you shift the operations into an office.

2. Buy used furniture

Now, if you are planning to start an office for your bookkeeping business, you would require a lot of furniture to get a basic set-up ready. Instead of purchasing everything new, keep an eye out on garage sales and second-hand platforms to source the best deals on tables, storage cabinets, and chairs.

3. Choose a monthly subscription

Many would suggest getting free accounting software. But let’s face it, those won’t have much functionality essential to offer bookkeeping services. Instead, buy monthly subscription plans initially. This would help you explore different options in the market before finalizing something.

4. Free marketing

Don’t spend heavily on billboards and hoardings initially. Instead, try gaining as much traction as possible through online advertising and digital marketing. Besides, keep learning new skills to be able to implement an effective marketing strategy on your own.

5. Hire freelancers

You cannot afford to hire people on payroll right from the first month. Instead, hire freelancers to offer basic bookkeeping services to save on fixed recurring expenses every month.

Conclusion

By now you must have a fair understanding of the average costs for a bookkeeping business.

Let’s now calculate the actual costs for your business using the Upmetrics Startup cost calculator and make provision for the same.

Start calculating now.

Use Upmetrics for Accurate Startup Cost Projections!

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About the Author

Upmetrics                                                       
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Upmetrics Team

Upmetrics is the #1 business planning software that helps entrepreneurs and business owners create investment-ready business plans using AI. We regularly share business planning insights on our blog. Check out the Upmetrics blog for such interesting reads. Read more

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