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Career Story: Self-Employed Accountant

Self-Employed Accountant

Job Title: Self-Employed CPA Handling Business Accounting Only

Type of Company: Sole proprietor and sole employee of a business accounting company

Education: BS, Business, George Mason University

Previous Experience: I worked as a staff accountant with a couple of accounting firms, but I have been on my own for the past twenty years.

Job Tasks: I work with small privately-held businesses, primarily medical practices, cleaning up their accounting data in order to compute monthly financials. This includes the calculation of bonuses based on profits at different locations, or based on sales for one office; it varies. I clean up information, allocate costs to different profit centers based on formulas and worksheets I developed with owner and manager input and produce monthly financial statements. Most of my work is done either with or through the Practice Managers who handle day-to-day responsibilities -- writing checks, making deposits, etc. -- or the people who manage the company's administrative staff, which can vary in size from 4-10 people. I only work with businesses that want to use the information and truly manage their businesses.

I invariably work from home, using remote web access to log on to my own remote desktop set-up with each company. It is imperative that I have access to all information at any point in time so that I can be responsive to any questions the clients may have. If someone needs something, they call me and I can then find the answer, thanks to the access I have through the Web. I also work at night or whenever I need to to do the required work. I have 2 children and am a single mother and this arrangement has always worked best for me.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of this job is that I can work from home, any time, day or night, even in the middle of the night. I often will get up at 2AM to complete work on something. The internet and remote access give me the flexibility to do what is needed as it is needed.

The bad part is I have to do it all myself and need to sometimes do it in the middle of the night, on vacation. Being self-employed means being self-motivated. And even if I am sick, I need to do the work to send out my invoice so that I get paid. If I don't work, I don't get paid and the clients do not get what they need. Also working alone can get very quiet and distractions abound.

Job Tips: Getting a bachelor's degree is smart; you'll always have it. Getting and keeping a CPA's license is even smarter. Having your certification can mean the difference between making a living and just getting by. As for me, figuring out who I was and what I needed was key -- not what my peers or former mentors thought I should do, which was go back to a firm!

Additional Thoughts: What surprised me the most was that being a numbers person doesn't always mean you wear big glasses and don't talk much. I am a people person and using my numbers skills to work with businesses as I do has enabled me to do both -- How would I change my career? Not sure... it seems to have worked well for me. Recognizing mentors and knowing when you need to find another are gifts it doesn't hurt to possess.

Personal qualities -- focus, motivation, clear head, people person, listening well to what the business owners are trying to do -- asking them the questions, so you really know what they want -- then you, I gain their respect and trust -- and stay on it!

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