Running your own accounting practice provides a variety of benefits beyond just the generous profits. It affords you a more flexible work schedule since you can choose your hours and days, it gives you the freedom to work with specific cases, and ultimately lets you call the shots. Of course, this freedom and nice paycheck don’t come without their own challenges, from marketing to clients to remaining compliant with federal and state regulations. To help you navigate the murky waters, here are five tips to start your own practice.
To begin, you’ll need to have objectives guiding your efforts. Work to focus on them on a daily basis as your list of objectives will act as a yardstick from which to measure progress. When starting your own practice, set SMART goals. SMART is abbreviated for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. If a goal doesn’t meet this criteria, discard it. Examples of a SMART goal might be:
- Create a comprehensive business plan by the end of the month that is focused on generating $50k more in revenue.
Recheck your goals and make adjustments from time to time to account for environmental and situational changes. Once you have clear objectives outlined, craft it into your mission statement that will be posted on your website’s homepage and in other marketing materials.
Although you might have worked for a large CPA firm in the past, that does not guarantee that you’ll have a client base waiting for you when you’re ready to open your doors. Many new business owners/CPAs sometimes seem to forget this fact. They either fall victim to thinking that clients from their previous firm will follow them or that, sooner or later, someone will need their taxes done or their balance sheet managed.
In some ways, an accounting firm is no different from any other type of business. You will need to establish a solid hold on the market and grow your business. Start by offering your services up at a competitive price comparative to the market, and then perform beyond the expected outcome. Being the lowest bidder will encourage people to test you out.
Limit Hiring in the Beginning to Essential Personnel
Running an accounting practice doesn’t require an army of full-time employees. Sometimes you really only need a handful of hardworking people to run the business efficiently and at optimal speeds. In fact, most of the personnel you’ll be needing during the first few months of the business can be outsourced to a third-party agency.
For instance, you can outsource clerical work to a virtual assistant or receptionist thus saving you space and costs. The core responsibilities or services provided by your practice will be coming from you, at least until you need to expand and hire more accountants to accommodate increasing caseloads.
Be Clear On What You Offer
Accounting is a very broad practice and at times can be confusing for clients to know what exactly it is you offer. From business and individual tax services to bookkeeping and offer in compromise, make sure to specify what cases you specialize in or what you can help clients with.
Work With Your Own Advisers
As an accountant, your work revolves around advising other people regarding their finances. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be accepting the help and guidance of other capable and more experienced advisers. When you open your own practice, assemble a team of advisers who can steer you in the right path. Possible advisers may include other CPAs, IT experts, entrepreneurs, bankers, and lawyers. The latter is actually important to make sure you stay compliant with government policies.
There is immense pressure when starting your own business, whether it’s an ice cream shop or an accounting firm. Make sure you’re ready for the challenges that lie ahead with these five aforementioned tips.
Mitch Larson is a university student immersed in the world of business. He enjoys researching and writing about many business topics –– specifically finance, accounting, and technology. When not hitting the books, you’ll probably find him shooting hoops or shredding a trail on his bike.