September 23, 2020

Let’s Talk About Accountants Getting Some on the Side

Ever get called into a meeting in the HR wing on a Monday morning to find out you’ve lost your posh accounting job due to downsizing? Yeah, me neither. But if you had lost your job on a Monday, you’d spend the rest of the morning contacting recruiters (oh the horror) and trolling LinkedIn until you came across a comment that says “Make $4,200 a day FROM HOME!” You think to yourself “Fuck accounting!” and click the link. Next thing you know, you’re peddling after-market cosmetics out of the back of your El Camino, and your computer has an irreparable virus.

Okay, maybe you’ve never been laid off on a Monday, but maybe you have thought about working from home. Maybe you’re like me and generally hate people but enjoy spreadsheets. Maybe you’re like me and hate commuting to the office because: ugh, Detroit. Maybe you’re a stay at home mom/CPA looking for supplemental income, or maybe you already have a job but you want an extra job or two because money. Here are a few ideas for accountants who want to pick up a little side cash:

Business Plan Competitions – Aside from charging a small business to write a business plan to present to the bank for funding, you could actually write a plan for your own small business idea. If you enter your idea into a business plan competition, you could win cash and other prizes. I’ve competed in a few of these, and I’ve kept the prize money without starting my small business. Accountants are great at creating business plans because we’re really good at financial projections and financial statements. If you’re interested in competing or writing a business plan, visit the Small Business Administration to get started. They have a lot of good free or low-cost resources for people interested in creating a business plan.

Remote Bookkeeping – Run the books or do accounts payable for a small business or two if you have enough experience to do the work without a second level of review. I completely stole this one from bloviator, who dropped it in Open Items comments last week: “Do remote bookkeeping for small businesses. Use QuickBooks Online or Xero and have the client scan and upload everything. Do it at night or on weekends and rarely or never go to the client's site. Charge $300 – $800 a month, depending on time. Local Internet advertising and word of mouth have worked for me.”  

Elance.com – I’ve not personally tried this site, but I have a friend who freelances on it, and she’s had some success picking up side work. Basically, you can put together a profile and bid to work on different freelance projects. The site has all sorts of accounting and data analysis jobs up for bid. Again, just be careful that you have enough experience and professional knowledge to handle the freelance work competently. Also be careful that you don't get upset when all the good gigs are gobbled up by Indians who will do the work for a quarter of what you would.

Hobby Stuff – Okay, I’ll just lump everything together here including photography, crafting, and dog walking. I used to dismiss crafting until I heard on talk radio that some lady made $400,000 crafting hair bows and marketing them on Amazon, so if you have a talent like that, roll with it. However, please don’t turn into one of those schmucks with a ball of string and an Etsy account who markets subpar crap to me on Facebook. I will lose my shit. You know who you are.

Though accounting from home is more profitable than donating plasma or selling after-market cosmetics and more convenient than heading to the office every day, it certainly has its drawbacks. For me, the drawbacks include easy access to Facebook and Going Concern without a boss looking over my shoulder. I’d spend the whole day trolling the Open Items instead of working. Also, I don’t necessarily feel comfortable accounting for things without a second level of review because I just don’t have the years and years of experience that some of you have. However, working from home could be a great fit for some people.

What are your ideas for side cash? Do any of you work from home either exclusively or on a part-time basis? What do you do, and what advice do you have for others?

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