March 2017 sees the end of 3rd full year of trading. So far I basically survived and kept a roof over my head in year 1. Year 2 made some progress on earnings but made a lot of mistakes and took on too much of the wrong type of work. Year 3 got into position similar to my employed days where I was doing to much work for too little gain. Fixed most of that then spent a lot of time looking at what I was doing and deciding on what I actually want to do, what type of clients I want to support and what sort of services I will offer and at what level.
I am not a tax heavy practice and keen to keep it that way. I dont have many sole traders and not really looking to serve that market. After the mess I got into in Jan 2016 I have no interest in this "Tax Season" so changed how I do things and hit all my Directors early for their info and pretty much had them complete by mid November. Next year I will aim for October cut off, what happens after that will remain to be seen when the effects are known. To able to plan your year ahead in January is a much better palce to be in, than nut deep in tax returns.
I have also spent the last few months of 2016 guinea pigging systems with some cleints. I have focussed on a few sectors I have an interest in and started from the nuts and bolts of the business and what are the common issues that sector faces. Then matching the problem to a solution or an add on that can fix it. I have a few industry specific packages now which I will be running with in 2017. So far they have been well received. I am not sure this will be a niche as such but I am confident I will sign up some good work from it. Testimonials and case studies will be key to this success.
I am currently 45 so if I want to earn a living in this game for the next 20 years after a lot of dallying around it is clear my firm needs to be tech and systems driven, with cloud accounting the core of that. Although others maybe have a few years head start on their cloud journey I still feel that there is good opportuntiy to win work from those still working on the once a year accounting model, and I am looking to push this as a better alternative.
One of the things that has held me back in the first few years is lack of working capital. Much is said about how easy it is to set up as an accountant where £500 VT, Taxfiler and a laptop is all you need to build a business, this is not really true if you are looking to grow quickly and have your earnings match your employed income within 18 months or so. I am finally in a position where I have funds to spend on marketing, branding and websites etc. My website is starting to produce and although I am happy with this I think there is huge potential to unlock with further investment and professional help. I also have a marketing company putting some professional looking literature again things I have not had.
Since starting I have never been in a position to chase work and have simply waited for work to come to me. I am now confident In what I have to offer and I want to take that to market and cherry pick some cleints I want to act for and start knocking on some doors.
I am working on a new business plan for next 2 years which shows strong growth to build a decent business which will both give me a decent living and create something of value to cover my lack of pension provision, I have the mojo and drive to deliver on this.
So 2017 is not quite make or break but I feel it has to happen for me and intend to give it my best shot.
I just hope Brexit and Trump dont mess it up for me.