If you’re looking for a great way to make money from home, a bookkeeping side hustle could be a great option.
There are so many benefits of becoming a bookkeeper from home:
- There is no prior experience or degree required
- You can make $60-100 per hour
- It’s flexible – you can work when and where you want
Today I wanted to share a personal interview from someone who went from zero experience, to working as a bookkeeper on the side of his day job, to quitting his job to do bookkeeping full time!
Nate Hendrikse is the mastermind behind Navigator Bookkeeping, where he helps small business owners take the stress out of their bookkeeping.
Nate started his career as a teacher, but when he realized he didn’t love it, he decided to start a bookkeeping business on the side from home. After a few years, he had built up enough clients to take the leap and quit his teaching job to go full-time into bookkeeping. He now makes around $75 per hour and enjoys the flexibility of working from home and owning his own business.
Read on for the full interview with Nate, and how he was able to replace his teacher salary and more with his bookkeeping side hustle!
From Bookkeeping Side Hustle to Full-Time Entrepreneur
1. Tell me a little background about yourself. What did you do before you started bookkeeping?
I live in the Chicago suburbs with my wife, we have our first child on the way! Before bookkeeping I was a 3rd grade teacher. I did this for 4 years and really enjoyed the kids, but realized early on that teaching was not my passion.
2. How did you learn about bookkeeping as a side hustle or career option? What attracted you to bookkeeping specifically?
When I realized teaching wasn’t my passion, I knew I wanted to do something completely different if possible. I also knew that I wanted much more flexibility in my work schedule as, apart from summer, teachers have very little schedule flexibility.
I’ve always loved personal finance and work relating to budgeting and finance, so when I started google searching jobs that I could do from home, but also help others with their finances, I was hooked.
3. How did you initially get started in bookkeeping?
I initially got started my second or third year of teaching, so that would be somewhere between 2016-2017. I was still teaching full time and would continue to teach full time until June of 2018.
During this time, I was mostly doing the training to become a bookkeeper and making sure that it was something I enjoyed and could be passionate and skilled in.
I got started basically just through finding out about BBL (Bookkeeper Business Launch) and then doing research on it to make sure it was legitimate. I then talked to lots of family and friends about it as jumping from a full time job to starting your own business is not a trifling matter of course!
After much conversation, I decided to start the training full time and I did that and set up the business until June of 2018, when I quit teaching and jumped completely into bookkeeping.
Wealthy Nickel Note:
Nate was a student of Bookkeeper Business Launch. BBL is an online training course that teaches you everything from the bookkeeping basics, to how to start a business and find clients.
I asked Nate if he would recommend Bookkeeper Business Launch to others getting started with no experience, and here is what he said:
I highly recommend BBL. It covers everything you’ll need to know to start your business, but of course you’ll have on-going questions as you continue in business. The great part about BBL is that they continue to support you as you grow with email assistance, message boards, and all their content is available forever after you become a member.
It’s the most comprehensive and highest quality training I’ve seen of any content, period. Very much worth the investment.
4. What kind of experience did you have in bookkeeping before you started? Did you take any courses or other training to prepare?
Zero. I knew nothing about bookkeeping.
I had done quite a bit of personal finance budgeting and such for my wife and I, but no bookkeeping and no business experience! I know that many people in BBL have had some experience before they took the course, but I knew literally nothing.
5. How did you land your very first client?
I had joined BNI (Business Networking International), which is a networking group that meets weekly, always with the same committed group of people. It leads to the potential of really deep relationships.
When I joined BNI, I imagined I’d get a client right away as there are many business owners. But of course, it takes time for people to have trust in you and what you do.
So finally, after 3-4 months of meetings one of my fellow group members let me know that he had a giant need for bookkeeping help and I was able to come alongside him and start working on his books. We’ve been working together ever since!
How to Grow Your Bookkeeping Side Hustle Business
6. What are the day to day activities involved in your bookkeeping business?
Most days I will work on a few different clients, depending on what jobs I need to do.
I have a base of monthly clients who I will work on about 1-2 times a week each, while I also have some temporary clean-up jobs that I work on as well, that I will work for a few days at a time in a row.
My daily activities will include classifying transactions, reconciling statements, and entering receipts and other transactions. I’ll also do work such as answering client questions, meeting for networking meetings & other business connections, and doing other marketing work for the business — so really, each day is a different mix!
Really, I’ve just been building it up by trying to connect meaningfully with as many people as possible and building lasting relationships. By building up a network of referral partners, I’m both receiving referrals for myself, but also building a team I can refer to, so that’s how I receive most of my business.
7. What can someone realistically expect to earn from a bookkeeping business?
I usually charge somewhere around $75 an hour for my services (though most of my services are charged on a monthly/flat fee rate).
If you’re really going to go full time into it, you can definitely earn a solid salary from your business since there is such low overhead if you run the business in the right way. But you also need to find a solid grouping of clients (12-14 at least, depending on the size of clients) before you can plan on making it a full-time business.
If you just have a few clients, you could probably plan on easily making around $500-600 a month.
So it kind of depends why you’re in bookkeeping. I’m in it to make a full-time salary, some people just want to make it a side gig, both are definitely possible, they just need different amounts of time and work.
Pros and Cons of Starting a Bookkeeping Business
8. What are the benefits of owning your own bookkeeping business? What do you enjoy the most?
FLEXIBILITY. You get to make your own schedule at all times. Work whenever and from wherever you would like. That’s my favorite part by far.
When we go on vacation, we can go indefinitely because I can do all of my work virtually. With a child on the way, I’m excited to be able to very actively take care of our baby, but also find time to work. It may be that I work more at night or in the early morning, but that’s the beauty of it, all of my responsibilities can be shifted around as needed.
It’s also really fun to be in control of your own business and get to make all the decisions as to how you spend your money and how to keep growing the business.
9. What obstacles have you had to overcome to achieve success? What mistakes have you made?
The biggest obstacle, in my view, is keeping up a solid flow of clients.
When I started, I thought it would be easy to find clients. There’s millions of businesses out there after all.
But, so many business owners already had a bookkeeping solutions they thought was good enough, or were doing it themselves, or just didn’t know who I was, etc. So it’s difficult at times to make sure you’re getting enough clients, especially when just starting out when you’re not sure how to market yourself or who you should talk to.
Most of my mistakes have been related to marketing and getting the word out about my business. It was difficult to know who to talk to, how to spend my marketing budget etc.
I can’t think of any giant mistakes, but for the most part, I’m sure most of it has been related to missed business opportunities because of the way I talked about the business or marketed myself. I know that I’ve also wasted a decent amount of money using social media ads ineffectively!
Should You Start a Bookkeeping Side Hustle?
10. Is bookkeeping for everyone? What makes someone an ideal fit?
No, I don’t think any industry is ideal for everyone. That being said, if you are a good communicator I think you can be a solid bookkeeper.
You of course need to be good with technology, have an eye for detail, and enjoy finances to some extent, but the best bookkeepers are the people who can communicate what’s happening in a client’s business to them easily.
If you aren’t able to communicate well with clients, you may be a good bookkeeper, but not a good entrepreneurial bookkeeper. What I mean by that is that many people can learn the in’s and out’s of the technical aspects of bookkeeping, but to become a good bookkeeper who owns your own business, you’re going to need to have a lot of communication time with clients.
So if you just love the technical aspect, it may be better just to work under a different business owner. If you feel like you can handle the technical side, but also enjoy client interaction, it may be a good fit for for you.
11. How do you find new clients, and how would you recommend someone get started looking for clients?
I would start out just by talking to real people. When I started out I tried to do so much through social media, but talking to real people really teaches you how to talk about your business and get comfortable marketing yourself.
It definitely is scary at first, but joining a group of people who continually meet may be more helpful as then it’s a smaller environment where you can get more comfortable with the people you’re networking with. There are so many chamber events and networking events you can be apart of and so many great people to meet to who can be helpful connections in growing your business.
So I would start just by talking to business owners and other business people in as many environments as possible, I’ve found that people generally are very supportive of new business owners.
12. What advice do you have for someone looking to get started in their own bookkeeping business?
I would talk to some other business owners personally to get to know the in’s and out’s more intimately. It really is a great business and it’s so needed for today’s small business owner, but it also, like anything, can be difficult at times.
My advice would be to talk to someone who’s doing it and learn about the good of it and the bad, learn what the day-to-day responsibilities actually look like.
If possible, I would try out some bookkeeping too and make sure that you like the technical side of it. If you hate bookkeeping, as many business owners do, it may not be a good fit for you of course!
13. Anything else you want to share?
Bookkeeping is a great career where you’re able to help clients improve their businesses and their lives while also giving yourself great flexibility.
Of course, starting a new business is hard and you likely won’t get the salary you want for a while. It takes work and persistence, like anything. If you put the work and time into building a business like this, it has the potential to give you great profit as well as great flexibility.
If anyone ever has any questions about possibly doing this, I would love to answer and questions in greater detail and share more about what the job is really like.
The Bottom Line on Starting Your Bookkeeping Side Hustle
Thanks Nate, for sharing your experience! Nate’s story proves that almost anyone can start a bookkeeping side hustle and even turn it into a full-time business.
Here are my main takeaways from the interview:
- You don’t need experience to make it as a bookkeeper as long as you have the ability to learn and the drive to succeed
- Starting off as a bookkeeping side hustle is a great way to make an extra $500 a month or more, and be sure it’s something you really want to do before you jump in full-time
- Being a virtual bookkeeper provides a lot of flexibility with when and where you work
- At Nate’s average pay of $75 per hour, you can easily scale to a full-time income quickly!
As Nate said, running your own business can be challenging. If you want to learn more about what it takes to become a great bookkeeper and how to get started, the free training videos from Bookkeeper Business launch are essential viewing in my opinion.
You can decide from there if it’s a business that is right for you.
In the videos, you will learn:
- The 7 traits of a successful bookkeeper
- How much you can expect to earn
- How to start and run your business from home
- Easy methods to find quality clients
Andrew Herrig is the founder of Wealthy Nickel, where he writes about personal finance, side hustles, and entrepreneurship. As an avid real estate investor and owner of multiple businesses, he has a passion for helping others build wealth and shares his own family’s journey on his blog. Andrew’s expert advice has been featured on CNBC, Entrepreneur, Fox News, MSN, and more.