Are you intimidated by the thought of starting your own accounting practice? Don’t be. Even PwC, Deloitte, and Ernst & Young had to get their start somewhere. And just like those giants of the accounting world, your accounting practice can likewise be a smashing success. That is, as long as you follow the six edicts of accounting.
Any quality accounting practice will define its success, prepare for success, have the right tools to be successful, outwork the competition, keep abreast of progress towards end goals, and make adjustments as necessary.
With a little bit more detail on each of the above six pillars, any entrepreneur can build a successful accounting firm.
Define What Success Looks Like
The first step any new accounting firm will have to take is to define what success will look like for them. At first, this step may seem a tad esoteric, but we promise it is essential. After all, without defining success, how will your firm ever know when its goals are reached?
Success can look like many things for many different accountants. Maybe you want to parlay your firm’s work into a job with one of the most prestigious accounting practices in the world, or maybe you are just as happy overseeing a small office of one. Perhaps you want to be an expert in your field who routinely clears millions of dollars in billable hours annually. Or you could be happy doing accounting work for a rural school district. The key aspects are to define your goals so that the firm knows what it is aiming for.
Prepare for Success
Knowing what success will be is imperative. Still, even more important is preparing for this success. After all, without proper preparation, it will be much harder to actualize a thriving business when the time comes. Good groundwork means doing your homework. Know what will be expected from both the project type and the client. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Forbes has a good explainer for those that need more tips on preparing for success.
Have the Right Tools for The Job
One aspect that can make all the difference between success and failure is ensuring that the accounting practice has all of the necessary tools for the job. While what is required may differ from client to client, there are a few items that will almost always come in handy. They include a reliable computer, good accounting management software, the right size team for the job, and space to work. This space doesn’t necessarily need to be a place where you can meet with clients—yet.
Of the above, quality accounting practice management software is probably of the most vital concern when building a successful accounting practice. This import is because of the supreme utility that such software can have. The right software can function as a central, secure holding space for all client-related communications and data.
At the same time, accounting management software can help track the progress of large projects across multiple components and team members. Such features can be a lifesaver when determining who needs to be motivated before a big deadline.
Outwork the Competition
One part of an accounting firm’s success often seems unheralded is the importance of hard work. Many highly qualified accountants are working at better-known firms around the world. A will to outwork them all will be necessary to succeed. Doing this will take more than rote daily affirmations.
A strong work ethic will need to be imbued throughout the operation to assure triumph ultimately. Failing to do so can mean having your clients gobbled up by your competitors. Still, everyone talks a big game regarding hours worked on a mega-project, but how is that time truly kept?
Using the proper accounting practice management software is one way to keep track of who is pulling their weight and who should be pulled off a project. Such software makes it easy to ascertain who is doing what, when team members are coming through for a client, and when they need to be better motivated.
Check-in on Progress
Regular checks of progress will be necessary. And there is always time to ask tough questions. Some examples include:
Where is the company performing as it should?
Where can the firm be doing better?
What accounting services are most popular, and what are the most profitable? (Are they the same? Why not?)
What is our client retention rate? How is it trending?
Where is the firm’s money going?
What return on investment is being received?
And unlike a Tesla, you can’t ever really put an accounting practice’s growth on autopilot. Attention to the firm’s development must be a chief concern—not just for those at the top—but for everyone. When it comes to achieving true success, having as many vested stakeholders as possible makes for easier lifting.
Make Adjustments as Necessary
Lastly, don’t be afraid to make adjustments along the way. If the Wright brothers had stuck to what they were comfortable with, they would have been relegated to the obscurity of non-famous, Ohio-based bicycle shop owners instead of being known as the pioneers of flight. What can be gleaned from the story of Wilbur and Orville? Make changes as often as necessary until you start seeing the changes you want and the firm’s success begins to take flight.