What Does It Take to Start Your Own Accounting Firm

Many CPAs start out working for a larger organization or accounting firm. This is a good way to get acclimated to your new profession, because you can learn from those who have been in the business for a while. For many accountants, however, there comes a point when they have gained enough experience working for others, and want to realize the rewards of being in business for themselves. Sell a Business

Starting your own CPA practice is a big step, however. Though the rewards are potentially greater, you must be prepared to do much more work, especially in the beginning. You are no longer an employee collecting a paycheck, you are now the business owner, and this means you need to ensure that the firm turns a profit, or you do not get paid at all.

The good news is that the future looks promising, particularly for smaller accounting firms. There are numerous new industries and business models in today’s digital age, and increasingly burdensome compliance requirements are prompting more and more businesses to turn to professionals for help.

There are several keys to launching a successful accounting practice, here are four of them:

Develop an Effective Marketing Plan: If you leave a company or larger CPA firm, you cannot always count on clients you have worked for coming over to you. You may even have signed some kind of non-compete/non-solicitation agreement that prohibits you from marketing to clients of your previous employer for a certain length of time. This means you will probably need to acquire most of your new business on your own. The key to growing clientele quickly is to effectively market your services; and this means employing marketing strategies that have been proven to work for other similar firms that were once in your position.

Choose a Niche to Target: The accounting world is so vast these days that it is difficult to cover everything. Rather than marketing to “anybody and everybody”, it may be better to choose a specialty niche, so you can position yourself as a thought leader in your chosen area of expertise. For example, you could focus on tax preparation for young adults or the elderly. Or you could focus on helping small businesses with compliance issues, or one of countless other specialties.

Assemble the Right Team: The employees you hire will play an integral part in the success (or failure) of your firm. Be sure to screen applicants carefully, and hire those who share your values and mission, and bring in the right skillsets to provide your client base with exceptional service.

Secure Sufficient Working Capital: When you start your own CPA firm, you need to plan on not turning a profit for a while. In fact, in many cases, it could take at least a year before you start bringing in enough revenue to take home a decent salary. For this reason, it is critical to have sufficient working capital going in, so you can survive several losing or break-even months.

Alternatively, you may want to consider taking that capital and purchasing an existing accounting firm. If you choose this route, be sure to work with a business intermediary who has particular experience with the buying and selling of CPA firms. This will help ensure you have someone in your corner who fully understands the process and can guide you to a smooth and successful transaction.

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