If any profession enjoys making sure it all adds up, it must be accountants. For most accountants, this is just the way their brain works. They love checking boxes and making sure everything is all numerically squared away. Nowadays, anyone with similar passions can find a lucrative career in accounting. And the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 7% increase in demand for accountants between 2020 and 2030. Moreover, the need for accountants is only supposed to increase in the coming years, making now an opportune time to start your own accounting practice. But how do you create an accounting practice while ensuring it is successful?
There are seven simple steps that any accountant can follow to ensure their new practice is a success. This includes choosing an accounting specialty carefully, getting the right accounting software, satisfying your existing customers, understanding what makes your firm unique, finding new markets, getting rid of old clients you don’t need, and marketing your firm’s good work.
If the above seems as simple as 2+2=4, then you might have what it takes to be a world-class accountant. But just to be sure your accounting firm is set for success, make sure to read the details of each step below.
Choose Your Accounting Specialty Carefully
Are you one of those people who doesn’t think that choosing a specialty can impact the success of your accounting firm’s growth? Consider the moment from AMC’s “Better Call Saul” where the main character realizes that—despite the relative paucity of sexiness when compared to other attorney niches—there is still plenty of money to be made in elder law. The same can be true for accounting.
While accounting work in a corporate setting or as a consultant may not be what you’ve always wanted to do, these jobs still pay well for much the same work. And while some niches may require certifications, such as needing a CPA to work in assurance services, many will not need new qualifications.
Get the Right Accounting Software
If you’re already an accounting pro, then you likely know that a simple Microsoft Excel sheet isn’t going to cut in most accountancy cases. While you may be able to survive with basic software for a period, eventually, there will come a project that requires more advanced computational software.
And, of course, there is also accounting software specifically for accounting practices. Such accounting practice management software may seem like a luxury if you’re just starting out, but as any seasoned accountant will know, having a program that keeps it simple to keep your books straight is worth its weight in gold. Not only will good software help accounting teams delegate and track work, but it will also help with tedious data collection while keeping things securely stored in a central location. Collaborating remotely across a large team of stakeholders, especially these days, has never been easier.
Besides making things easier when working on client projects, such software will also have a wealth of features that accounting firms will find beneficial. For example, accounting practice management software should provide a series of reports that will let everyone know how they are doing in terms of key metrics such as effective hourly rate, team capacity, and time spent tracking.
Ensure You Satisfy Your Existing Customers
Keeping your clients happy is much more than knowing their wants and needs. Real progress will be made once the time is taken to understand the underlying rationale that drives these desires for the client. Understanding the complete picture will help ensure that you are keeping your customers happy. It will also help when keeping an eye out for supplementary revenue streams that you may be able to offer by way of additional services to existing customers.
Understand What Makes Your Accounting Practice Unique
There are a million and one accountants in the world. What sets you and your firm apart? Why would those looking for an accountant choose to work with you first? Competition in this space is fierce and increasingly global. Knowing what sets your practice from your competitors is crucial to standing out in this environment.
This is where many accounting practices would claim that their service differentiates them from their competitors. And with all due respect, this isn’t nearly specific enough to be helpful. How does your service help differentiate you to your customers? Have you saved a client a fortune by creatively lessening their tax burden? Now that is a service you can sell. But without specifics, empty platitudes about putting customers first will do little to entice new clients—that is—without receipts.
Find New Markets
Maybe you are an accountant who works with non-profits who—despite great success—is struggling to find new clients to help fill out their roster. In such cases, expanding your firm’s horizons to new services and client types may be in order. Don’t go off into an accounting area that is entirely unrelated to your core competency, however, as it may take more work to get up to speed on a new type of project than it is worth.
Make Sure Your Clients Are Still a Good Fit
As a business changes and grows, often enough, so will its target consumers. If you find that your accounting practice spends too much time on legacy clients, it may be time to let some go. As hard as this may be when business relationships are built up over the years, this is no time to be sentimental. After all, your firm can only do so much work in a day, making this a true issue of dollars and cents.
Don’t Be Afraid to Market Your Good Work
Finally, marketing is one avenue for growing an accounting firm that shouldn’t be overlooked. After keeping your clients happy, a good marketing plan is probably the most essential step. After all, no one will brag about your good work if you don’t. When just starting out, try to focus your advertising campaigns as narrowly as possible to ensure no wasted effort. Buying ads on social media and ensuring your practice’s website ranks well on search engines is of the utmost importance. If you don’t feel up to the task of marketing yourself, consider partnering with an expert.