What do I need to do to set up a bookkeeping business?

This is a short question, with a long answer!

FIRSTLY, let’s look at the BOOKKEEPING element of the question:


  • Acquire the bookkeeping knowledge and skills that you will need in order to operate as a bookkeeper in practice

    This can be acquired by completing the:

    a). AAT Foundation Certificate in Bookkeeping and
    b). AAT Advanced Certificate in Bookkeeping


  • Apply for AAT QB status
    (AAT Qualified Bookkeeper)

    Have a look at the AAT website here for an explanation of how to do this. You might find the AATs article here helpful too


  • Apply to become an AAT Licensed Bookkeeper – for more information on this, please go to the AATs website here

    Anyone can hold themselves out to be an accountant or a bookkeeper. Unlike the term “solicitor” it is not a “Reserved” title. However, if you are a qualified member of a professional accountancy body, you must register with them in order to be able to practice as an accountant or bookkeeper. If you don’t, you will be subject to their disciplinary procedures – as they need to protect the reputation of their professional body. If you are a Chartered Accountant, you need to apply each year for a Practising Certificate and you are subject to oversight under Practice Assurance regulations by the QAD.

    As an AAT in practice, you must register either as a Member in Practice (for MAATs) or as a Licensed Bookkeeper (for AATQBs)


SECONDLY, let’s look at the BUSINESS element of the question:

This is a much BIGGER question!

You are thinking about starting a business.

This is not a job. It is a business, with all the risks of a business.
One of the risks is that you run it as a job – working for yourself, but you don’t actually step back from it so you can work on the business, rather than just work in the business.

You’ll need to draft a proper business plan. You’ll need to get proper insurance, including professional indemnity insurance. You need to worry about GDPR and data protection.

You’ll find that being a bookkeeper is the easy bit. Being in business is the hard bit.

Buy recommended business books.

Get professional advice. I know that sounds daft – you are a professional! However, you may be a professional bookkeeper but are you a professional businessman / businesswoman?

It isn’t the place of this article or this website to provide professional advice – just a few pointers for those setting out or thinking about setting out. We did look at a couple of websites on the subject but were uncomfortable adding their URL links here as we felt they were a bit superficial and a bit out of date.

The AAT did draft some guidance on this area in March 2016 and it is probably worth having a look at this:



If you do decide you want to go down this route, and want to be regulated by the AAT as a Member in Practice or a Licensed Bookkeeper, we recommend that you speak directly with the AAT for detailed guidance of their oversight requirements.