Rather than business-as-usual, 2018 is going to see a flight, not to safety, but potentially, to a more fertile land for software providers: the land of the gig economy. This is where the growth is in our broader economy – Uber drivers, food service delivery like Deliveroo, Foodora, Menulog and Uber Eats, and media contractors like journalists, graphic designers, writers as well as armies of parcel delivery operators thanks to the arrival of Amazon. Microbusiness, often seen as the poor cousins to SMBs are the new potential land grab for software providers, as well as accounting and bookkeeping firms. How are the professionals responding to the massive opportunity?

Service sector growth

Look around at your colleagues, friends, new graduates and you’ll see a significant portion going into self-employment. Indeed the self-employed market is growing exponentially. And wherever you look you will find automated payment systems that are distributed to the contractor by some form of accounting technology.
Look too at recently retired or retrenched people and you will probably find a significant portion there who are seeking some form of self-employment. And that includes bookkeepers where there is a trend of more practitioners going solo.

The start-up phenomena

A recent survey out of Stanford University revealed a majority of graduate students from engineering and IT seeking self-employment, either through a start-up or as an independent, self-employment professional.
The start-up economy is being further boosted both here and internationally through more democratic fund-raising mechanisms including crowd-funding, which has gained legislative approval in many countries.

Are bookkeepers needed?

Speak to any start-up founder or small business owner, and, irrespective of age, the founder-owner has no desire to spend time doing the books. They need interpretation of the data. This however, will not stop the relentless drive by accounting software providers to swarm into this space with compelling offers and benefits.
The land grab is a place for competitive tension like we have never seen before. Already bookkeeping firms are succumbing and selling themselves into accounting firms (with nil goodwill component) but the desire for independence remains strong. A new mindset is needed for this year and beyond.