Starting and Running Your Own Accounting Firm

Fifty percent of the American workforce is employed by small businesses. These companies generally don’t invest in their own accounting department, so the services of an independent accounting firm are in high demand. Small firms are also much more personal and driven by relationships, so creating business connections can be a source of a lot of business for your firm.

That said, 8 out of 10 start-ups fail, because many business owners don’t take the steps necessary to succeed. You can be a business success story by following the suggestions below. Even if you’ve already started your business, go through these steps to help your firm become stronger.

Ask yourself crucial questions

  • “Am I starting a business for the right reasons, and will those reasons keep me motivated through tough times?”
  • “Is this the right time for me and my family, given the financial and time requirements?”
  • “Do I have access to sufficient capital to start the business and maintain it during the first year when I may not be able to draw much salary?”
  • “Do I have my family’s emotional support, since it will be a strain at first?”
  • “Do I have all the necessary business skills or should I take a practice development course?”

Create a detailed business plan

This plan should include:

  • Goals, services, and a unique selling proposition: What is your vision for your firm? What are the particular skills you have? What will set you apart?
  • Target market: “Everyone” is not an acceptable answer. Do market research to determine who most needs and can best pay for the services you want to offer. Or conversely, consider with whom you want to work and determine what financial or accounting services they most need.
  • Marketing and pricing strategy: How will you build your practice? Should you charge a set fee or an hourly rate? Run some forecasting models to test different scenarios.
  • Entrance strategy and business structure: Will you dive in with both feet? Take on clients while working 9 to 5? Take overflow from or purchase an existing practice? Will you file as an LLC, S-Corp, C-Corp?
  • Projected costs and revenues: Consider start-up costs, costs of running the business, and costs of expanding (for instance, hiring employees) against revenues. Again, running some forecasting tools will help you make the right decisions on spending, pricing, and service offerings.

Create a plan for growth

  • Network: This article provides many examples of how to grow your business through social media, external networking, and utilizing your existing client base.
  • Keep your ethical standards high: Don’t encourage clients to cut corners, hide cash income, or fudge any numbers. By maintaining your clear code of ethics, they will trust that you are treating them ethically and in return will be more likely to treat you ethically as well. This will also prevent you from being hired by unethical clients, which will prevent problems before they begin.
  • Keep turnover low: By providing outstanding, ethical service, you will keep your clients, increase upsells, and increase referrals. It’s a win-win-win.
  • Always look for new opportunities in service offerings: While you want to maintain a niche, you may see opportunities to expand additional offerings within your chosen niche, or you may notice a wide-open market that is being insufficiently serviced. Explore it, and follow the same due diligence you did in starting your business. Research and run models, then if it looks good, add additional offerings.

Follow these important steps when starting, running, and growing your firm to increase your success and grow your market share.