3 Practical Tips to Become a Successful Freelance Accountant

Working as a freelancer is a dream come true for many accountants. You get to choose the hours you work, where you work, who you work with, and how you work. The good news is becoming a freelance accountant has never been easier, thanks to the mass online transformation of modern business. 

If you are interested in becoming a successful freelance accountant, read on to find useful and practical information that will help you achieve your career goals.

What is a freelance accountant? 

Just like a corporate accountant, freelance accountants help manage their clients’ money so that they can allocate resources and run their operations more efficiently. 

Listed below are some common examples of a freelance accountant’s tasks and responsibilities:

  • Record financial transactions on digital ledgers 
  • Prepare invoices and send them to their client’s customers on time 
  • Process and distribute payroll for client’s employees
  • Create financial statements and tax reports 
  • Ensure their client’s financial operations are compliant with the law
  • File tax returns and assist business owners with finding ways  to minimize their tax 
  • Create a budget for a business

See also: 4 End of Year Tax Tips for Freelancers.

3 Practical tips to become a successful freelance accountant 

These 3 tips will help steer your freelance accounting career in the right direction. 

Check them out!

1. Assure your customers that you are qualified 

You should obtain at least one accounting-related qualification before starting your freelance business. Not only does it give you the necessary knowledge to perform your work, but it also serves as proof to your potential clients that you can handle the job. The more accounting qualifications you have, the greater the chance that you’ll snag a client at a competitive rate. Here are three common ways that a freelance accountant can show that they are qualified: 

  • Have a Bachelor’s Degree 

While a bachelor’s degree in the field is preferred, any business or accounting-related degree that involves accounting, auditing, tax courses, or credits is also beneficial.  

  • Get Certified or Licensed 

Although it’s not compulsory, many businesses will only work with freelance accountants who are either certified or licensed (some clients want both!). Some professional certifications that can help you stand out are: Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA).

  • Acquire Experience

Working experience is a great way to prove that you know what you are doing! On your online profiles, make sure to include in detail any of your accounting work experience such as what your tasks were, which company you worked for, how long you worked there, etc. 

As important as your qualifications are, you should also constantly update your knowledge whenever you can with webinars, networking events, and professional courses.

See also: What Are The Differences Between A Bookkeeper And An Accountant?

2. Invest in equipment, software, and online tools 

Once you’ve decided to go freelance, you have to be prepared to spend a considerable amount of money on a laptop, a stable Internet connection, and accounting software and tools. There are many online accounting software on the market today, and you should choose carefully based on your accounting specialty and budget. You might want to consider some popular accounting software such as Quickbooks, Xero, Freshbooks, and Bench

When working as a freelance accountant, you usually won’t actually work in your client’s office space, so it will likely be up to you to provide the infrastructure needed to store paper files. This can be inconvenient, especially if you have a smaller living space. To solve this problem, use Shoeboxed. Shoeboxed is a software that helps you digitize your documents, especially financial receipts, in a snapshot. They will then be securely stored in the cloud, where you can go back and search for your files anywhere, anytime.    

See also: The Digital Accounting Era: Five Steps For Accountants To Succeed.

Advertising is the way to connect you with potential clients. Start small with the traditional way – word of mouth. Tell your family, friends, and former colleagues about your freelance business and what you have to offer. Next, you can create social media profiles, purchase advertising space or create marketing campaigns that show your skills and services. Advertising can have a massive impact on the growth of your freelance career, especially at the start.

See also: Financial Services Marketing: Definition, Benefits and Best Practices for Small Businesses.

Where can you find freelance accounting jobs? 

Many new freelance accountants get their first jobs through friends, family, or networks from their previous workplaces. But if that option is not for you, don’t worry. There are many freelance job websites that can help you find clients. 

Listed below are the biggest and most well-trusted websites for freelance accounting jobs:

  1. Fiverr: On this platform, freelancers can post and advertise details of their services. Potential customers looking for a freelance accountant will scroll through and choose a suitable one. When you register as a freelance accountant on Fiverr, you can classify your services into basic, standard, and premium packages.
  1. Paro: Paro is more specific to financial services, and accounting is listed among jobs such as bookkeeping, financial analysis and planning services, and even CFO services. According to Paro, only the top 2% of finance freelancers make it through their rigorous vetting process, which includes a skills assessment, interview, test project, and reference check. 
  1. Upwork: Upwork is pretty much the same as Fiverr. Millions of jobs are posted on the site, and there are over 5,000 skills on offer, including accounting. One downside of being on a platform this size is that you have to really stand out against thousands of competitors to get clients.

Final thoughts 

Becoming a freelance accountant is a pretty straightforward process. If you constantly improve your knowledge, acquire modern accounting tools, and put yourself out there online, you will soon be able to build a successful freelance business. 

What’s Shoeboxed? 

Shoeboxed is an application that lets you digitize paper receipts in just a few seconds. It automatically extracts and categorizes important data from your receipts, which then gets approved by a team of data experts. Quick, reliable, and trustworthy, Shoeboxed guarantees to organize your piles of documents in the best way you can imagine! 

Go paperless for FREE with Shoeboxed

Best Ways to Store Your Receipts and Keep Them Organized

Are you frustrated with the piles of receipts taking up your desk space? Have you ever felt stressed when you couldn’t find an important receipt? Or have you ever lost money just because you threw away your past receipts? It doesn’t have to be like this!

This article will share the best ways to store your receipts effectively, so you’ll never have to worry about them! 

Why should you store and organize your receipts?  

Do I really need to store my receipts? 

This question has probably popped up in your mind many times. You may think once a transaction is successful, there’s no reason to hang on to its receipt.  

But, the answer is yes! Here are the top three reasons why you should store your receipts and keep them organized: 

  1. To get ready for the tax season 

As a business owner, it’s in your best interest to lower your taxable income and increase your potential for a tax refund. The good news is most of your business expenses qualify as deductions with the IRS. However, the IRS will want to see receipts and other related documents to verify that your declared expenses were truly spent for business purposes. That means no receipt, no tax refund! 

See also: Understanding the IRS’s Tax Underpayment Penalty and How to Avoid It.

  1. To reimburse expenses correctly 

Often your employees have to use their own money to pay for something on behalf of your company. They then fill in an expense report to get reimbursement. How can you verify if their claims are genuine or not? Receipts can help you! They let you know exactly when and where the transaction took place. Most importantly, receipts tell you the exact amount you need to compensate. This prevents fraud and unwanted disputes in your workplace. 

  1. To stay on top of your spending 

Sticking to your budget is not an easy job. One effective way to do so is to accurately maintain records of every transaction. By doing this, you can have a clear vision of how much you have spent, what to cut out, and which expenses were not worth the money. Consequently, your overall cost and cash flow management will also become more efficient. 

Receipts are indispensable items to ensure your recordings are correct. They are solid supporting evidence for every bookkeeping entry, providing error-free financial reports and helping you stay in control of your expenses. 

See also: How To Track Business Expenses 15 Best Tips & Tools.

How do you store receipts? 

Now that you understand the importance of keeping your receipts, we will show you the best ways to store them. 

There are two common approaches to storing your receipts: traditional and digital. We will go through each method in detail, and hopefully, you will find the solution you are looking for! Let’s go! 

Storing your receipts traditionally 

Traditionally here means you want to collect and organize the paper copies of your original receipts. Here is what you may want to do: 

  1. Buy stationery organizers 

Buying stationery organizers to store your receipts is never a bad investment. File folders, storage cabinets, tab dividers, binders, sheet protectors, colored pens, etc., are all great tools to keep your paper receipts organized. 

A binder is the most suitable choice if you don’t have many receipts. Place sheet protectors in the binder, then slide the receipts into the protectors. If you have a lot of receipts to keep, get storage cabinets.

  1. Categorize your receipts 

Create a system to sort different kinds of receipts. It’s best to categorize based on the type of expense. For example, keep your utility receipts in one separate folder and office supplies in another. Inside your utility receipts folder, you can create subfolders like gas, electricity, water, etc. 

This will save you lots of time when filing taxes because your tax form breaks down the expenses section into different sub-categories, too. 

Consider adding numerical or colored codes to each receipt to classify expenses (e.g., using a prefix of 111 or using the color red to signify utility expenses). Placing the receipts in chronological order is also highly recommended! All these extra steps can quicken your process of categorizing and finding receipts.  

  1. Avoid piling up your receipts  

Schedule a convenient, regular time to sort your receipts. If you usually accumulate a large number of receipts every month, you may want to spend some time every Friday afternoon to go through your receipts. If you have a small volume of receipts, you can wait until the end of each month. 

Regardless, don’t put the task off and let your receipts pile up!

Storing your receipts digitally  

If you want to leverage technology to store your receipts, Shoeboxed is your best option. Shoeboxed stores your receipts and saves you valuable time. 

Just scan your paper receipts, and the Shoeboxed app will automatically extract all of the important data and categorize them. A team of data experts will verify your extracted data and make immediate corrections if there is an error. Your newly categorized receipt data is then available to check and search anytime, anywhere you want.  

Super easy, right? Quick, secure, and accurate; Shoeboxed definitely changes the game in how businesses store receipts. 

Final thoughts 

Storing receipts and keeping them organized is essential for business expense management. Whether you choose to use traditional or digital methods, make sure you always keep tabs on your receipts. 

And if you want to go digital and save time and hassle, click HERE to save 25% off all Shoeboxed plans for a limited time! 

Is Double-Entry Accounting Right for Your Business? Your Complete Guide!

If you’re a freelancer, sole entrepreneur, or independent contractor, you have to decide your business’s accounting system: double-entry or single-entry? You might have been using single-entry accounting, especially if you aren’t using accounting software. While this may have been sufficient initially, you should probably move to use accounting software and double-entry accounting if you plan to grow your business. 

In this article, we’ll walk you through double-entry accounting as simply as possible. We’ll explain how it differs from single-entry, and help you decide which accounting system suits your business best.

What is double-entry accounting?

Double-entry accounting is a bookkeeping method that maintains the balance of a company’s accounts. This method shows the most accurate picture of the company’s finances. At its core, this method relies on the accounting equation Assets = Liabilities + Equity. 

This accounting system was invented by Benedetto Cotrugli, an Italian merchant, in 1458. This system was later shared by the Italian mathematician and Franciscan friar Luca Pacioli, the author of The Collected Knowledge of Arithmetic, Geometry, Proportion, and Proportionality, which included a detailed description of the double-entry accounting system.

Using double-entry accounting is the only way to make sure all of your transactions follow the accounting equation rules. Unlike single-entry accounting which only requires that you post a transaction into a ledger, double-entry tracks both sides (debit and credit) of each transaction you enter. Using the double-entry accounting system reduces errors and makes it easier to produce accurate financial statements. Later in the article, we will take a look at a real-world example to help make these concepts even more clear.

See more: A Small Business Guide To General Ledgers.

Types of accounts

When you employ double-entry accounting, you will need to use several types of accounts. Some key account types include:

  • Assets: Assets are resources owned by a company, which represent future economic value. Some examples of asset accounts are accounts receivable, cash, and equipment. 
  • Liabilities: Liabilities are amounts owed or committed by a company, such as accounts payable, loans, and accrued expenses. 
  • Equity: Equity is the amount of funds invested in a business by its owners plus all retained income from operations. Common examples of equity are paid-in equity (funds from investors), retained earnings, and common stock. 
  • Revenue: Revenue is the money generated from any operating activities, like product sales, service fees, and interest income. 
  • Expenses: Expenses are all costs incurred in running a business, such as inventory purchases, employee wages, and depreciation. 

What are debits and credits?

Debits and credits are fundamental to the double-entry system. In accounting, a debit entry appears on the left side of an account ledger, while a credit entry appears on the right side. A transaction’s total debits and credits must be equal to be in balance. Credits don’t necessarily imply increasing, and debits don’t always imply decreasing. 

A debit may increase one account while decreasing another. For example, a debit increases asset accounts but decreases liability and equity accounts, supporting the general accounting equation of Assets = Liabilities + Equity. 

Debits increase the balances in expense and loss accounts on the income statement, while credits decrease their balances. Debits decrease revenue and gain account balances, while credits increase their balances.

To make things a bit easier, we’ve made this table to show you how debits and credits work under the double-entry bookkeeping system:

DebitsCredits
– Are always recorded on the left side
– Increase an asset account, or decrease a liability account or equity account (such as owner’s equity).
– Increase an expense account.
– Decrease revenue
– Are always recorded on the right side
– Increase a liability or equity account, or decrease an asset account.
– Decrease an expense account.
– Increase revenue

How double-entry accounting works

Setting up and operating a double-entry accounting system includes four key steps. It starts with setting up the accounts in which bookkeepers will record transactions and ends with using account information to generate financial statements. The steps are: 

  • Stage 1: Create a chart of accounts for posting your financial transactions. This chart is a complete listing of all the general ledger accounts that a company can use to record transactions. It contains all the accounts for each of the five types: assets, liabilities, equity, revenue, and expense. Nowadays, most accounting software comes with pre-made charts of accounts available for customization, while other accounting solutions offer customized charts of accounts.
  • Stage 2: Enter all transactions with equal amounts of debits and credits to reflect the elements of a transaction. Debits and credits can be recorded in any monetary unit, but the currency should be consistent throughout the accounting process.
  • Stage 3: Ensure each entry has two components; debit and credit. And, ensure that they are in balance with the accounting equation. Using accounting software can help you with this. 
  • Stage 4: Check and ensure that financial statements balance and reflect the accounting equation. The net account totals in the double-entry accounting system are fundamental to creating the company’s working and final balance when closing the books at the end of each accounting period. The final adjusted balances flow into financial statement line items. Nowadays, accounting software can automate the integration and process flow necessary to do this.

An example of double-entry accounting

Let’s explore a realistic example of double-entry accounting for a common business transaction. If you buy a new $1000 laptop for your freelance startup and you would like to record the expense, here’s how you’d do it: 

First, you need to enter a $1,000 debit to increase your asset statement “Laptop” expense account and a $1,000 credit to decrease your balance sheet “Cash” account. 

DATEACCOUNTDEBITCREDIT
12/29/21Office equipment$1,000
12/29/21Cash Account$1,000

In double-entry accounting, you still record the $1,000 in your cash account, but you also record that $1,000 as an expense.

Should I use double-entry or single-entry accounting? 

Single-entry might be enough for your accounting needs if your business is very simple, has only one employee, doesn’t have any inventory or debts, and doesn’t have many accounts to keep track of. 

Otherwise, if your business is any more complex than that, most accountants will strongly recommend switching to double-entry accounting.

Why? Though single-entry accounting is simpler to implement, it has significant drawbacks compared with double-entry accounting. Single-entry accounting is more prone to errors, especially omissions and duplications, because it lacks the control method of balancing accounts.

Furthermore, single-entry accounting can’t create a complete financial picture of the business. It only records cash inflows and outflows, indicating when cash is in hand versus when it is actually earned. It also doesn’t indicate items like sales made on credit. Moreover, single-entry accounting requires extra work in the closing process to yield balanced financial statements. Lastly, single-entry accounting is unsuitable for public companies because it’s not accepted under GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.)

Double-entry accounting provides you with a more complete, three-dimensional view of your finances than the single-entry method ever could. Since you’re recording where your money is coming from and where it’s going, you can then collate that information into financial statements. This gives you comprehensive insights into the profitability and health of various parts of your business. That’s a win because accurate financial statements can help you make better decisions about spending money in the future.

Double-entry accounting also reduces the risk of bookkeeping errors, improves financial transparency, and provides a layer of accountability to your business that single-entry accounting cannot.

If you want your business to be taken seriously by investors, banks, and potential buyers, you should be using double-entry.

The bottom line

Accounting entries are the foundation of every company’s accounting system. Taking good care of those documents means better control over your expenses. 

Shoeboxed can help you with that! Shoeboxed is a receipt scanning and expense management solution that helps businesses digitize piles of paper receipts in just a few clicks. After scanning your receipts, the app will automatically extract the key data and categorize them in proper order. You can then create clear and comprehensive expense reports, export, share or print all of the information you need for easy tax preparation or reimbursement. 

What’s more, Shoeboxed ensures that all your digitized receipts are human-verified and accepted by both the Internal Revenue Service and the Canada Revenue Service in the event of an audit. 
Using Shoeboxed saves you time and hustle collecting and keeping those paper receipts for report-making, especially when it comes to tax preparation. Sign up for free and go paperless with Shoeboxed!