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How long to get from £0 to £100k turnover

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How long it took other sole practitioners to get to the £100k turnover mark.

just interested to find out....something to work towards

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06th Aug 2018 15:06

Depends on a number of factors like how quickly you set on staff, where you live etc.

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By Slim
06th Aug 2018 15:18

I know many sole practitioners who never got to that level, preferring a better work life balance.

Really it is a how long is a piece of string question, but I think you will be doing well to get there in under 5 years.

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06th Aug 2018 16:00

About 6 months back in 2001.

I concentrated on marketing above all else back then.

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06th Aug 2018 17:23

About 7-8 years. I'm a slow learner.

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06th Aug 2018 17:24

I happily took my time to get there - taking on only good quality clients rather than a high volume of PITA clients/fee quibblers.

I have a relatively small number of clients who each get all the time they need from me, and who all need help with various things that, all in, means each client contributes a reasonable amount to my turnover.

It takes a certain amount of time, admin and mental capacity to simply have a client on the books - so they need to be spending more than a couple of hundred a year for that to be worth my while.

As others have said, everyone has their own preferences and circumstances etc etc - which is great as there is a huge spectrum of clients too. The above is just my take on what has worked for me. Hope it helps

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By marks
06th Aug 2018 21:53

First £100k is relatively easy. Took me about 20 months.

Getting to £500k is more difficult. Still not there and been trading about 6 years.

Long term is to get to £1m in the next 10-15 years.

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to marks
06th Aug 2018 22:29

marks wrote:

Long term is to get to £1m in the next 10-15 years.

Hoping to be at zero well before then.

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By Maslins
to marks
07th Aug 2018 10:18

marks wrote:

First £100k is relatively easy. Took me about 20 months.

Getting to £500k is more difficult. Still not there and been trading about 6 years.


Interesting. My experience is almost the opposite.

I was very green with a "how hard can it be" attitude. Ignored advice I was given (most notably "find a niche" to which I thought "why on earth would I rule out so many potential clients") and went my own way. I was trying to be everything to everyone. No doubt because of these things it was very slow progress at the start! For me was more like 3-4 years to get to £100k (and even then it was skewed towards the tail end of that window).

However, after the hard slog to get the initial base of clients and business model in place, growth from then has been fairly easy. I guess we'd found our niche at a good time. FreeAgent and cloud computing were taking off, we were a fairly early adopter (at least in terms of accountancy firms who are notoriously slow with these things) and did well from it.

Growth is definitely slower now (in percentage terms) for us than it was 5 years ago. Sure there's several reasons for that:
- much more competition in our niche (FreeAgent using accountants for freelancers/contractors),
- I've realistically taken my eye off the ball a bit, getting involved in side projects,
- to some extent policy changes, eg IR35 in public sector etc.

I no longer have any desire to hit any particular financial targets. Owning a huge company isn't a goal of mine, though no disrespect to those where it is.

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06th Aug 2018 23:06

I have been running a part time practice parallel with my various FT employments for the last 7-8 years and this year is set to be the first when I will make over the £100k profit solely from my moonlighting.

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to free-rider
07th Aug 2018 01:37

That's great going for a part-timer.

Lots of full timers don't get there.

You're obviously doing a lot right.

Never thought about ditching the day job?

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to free-rider
07th Aug 2018 08:26

Wow! What do you think is the source of your success? Accommodating employers or great service for your clients?

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to chrisdxuk
07th Aug 2018 09:38

Mark Telford wrote:

Never thought about ditching the day job?

I am planning to ditch my employment in a year/two time when will take on an employee. I currently keep it so I don't feel too isolated from people as my office is at my home.

chrisdxuk wrote:

What do you think is the source of your success? Accommodating employers or great service for your clients?

I think both as I give 100% service to my employer and also to the clients. Also, I disengaged from all pita clients 1.5/2 years ago and now take on only A type clients who follow the advice, pay on time and don't expect me to answer them within the 10 minutes of receiving an email. So it takes less time to service their needs and I really enjoy my work now.

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07th Aug 2018 01:37

About nine months.

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07th Aug 2018 08:17

Cant remember, but about 12 months I think. I seem to have been stuck at 150-200 for for 4 years tho ...

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to atleastisoundknowledgable...
07th Aug 2018 10:50

Don’t think my journey is necessarily comparable though. Started with a 3 month FTC who then turned into a £20kpa client. About month 6, they referred a £30kpa to me, so I was halfway there. £20kpa client from Guntree (!) month 9, £500-£5k made up the rest of my wins in yr 1. (All WoM - didn’t have any spare money to advertise, networking really didn’t work).

The problem over the next few years was that most of the chunky clients came & went (the initial one remained, but 20k, 4 x 10k, 30k, 3x15k all won & lost), which created big hits to my growing t/o, hence the relatively static t/o for 3 years. The only big clients I have now are just the original 20k, a 25k and a 15k, nearly everything else is <2k. Easier to win, easier to serve & generally less stressful - no more “what if they leave ...” thoughts. At long last I’ve settled on a business model of sorts and my target market.

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By Maslins
to atleastisoundknowledgable...
07th Aug 2018 10:58

Sounds like a dream start! My work was all in the £00s, or at best £1k-2k. It may be a bit easier to win a client like that, but it needs 100+ of them rather than ~4 to hit £100k turnover!

I do think it's easier to grow further with smaller clients though. They don't expect to talk to "the partner" all the time, as long as the work gets done. So you can employ, get systems in place etc to enable you to service a large number of clients without too much drain on the time for you personally.

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to Maslins
07th Aug 2018 11:04

Yes, that’s what we decided (well I, the Mrs had been saying it for a few years) over Xmas. Birth of 1st child made me want less stress & <50hr working week, so I needed ‘easier’ clients & work that the staff could deal with.

Agree with your point re less client-partner interaction as well, which is handy! Although I’m the salesman, so most of them have my details anyway ...

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By Matrix
07th Aug 2018 08:27

5 years working part-time.

This was from scratch and marketing mostly through word of mouth.

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07th Aug 2018 08:35

I did not hit that mile stone until towards the end of my third year.

I found the first year very slow as needed everything I earned to live on after leaving a well paid job.

It was only when I started generating more funds did I put a decent website up then some money into marketing and then things started to move.

With the benefit of hindsight If doing it again I would want £20k to get set up website and appoint some social media/ marketing people to get profile out there. With that I think I could have hit the £100k target within 18 months.

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By Maslins
07th Aug 2018 10:08

3-4 years for me. The first 1-2 years were very slow going, I quit my day job with zero clients to start from, and was far harder than I'd anticipated getting those first dozen clients. After that was fairly easy tbh (ie the winning clients part, new stresses come along of course!)

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07th Aug 2018 14:24

It was about 12 to 18 months for me. What worked for me was about 6 months in I bought a block of fees of around £45k, spent a good deal of time making that work. I found that that group of clients was the critical mass that I needed to get enough referrals to grow bigger.

We now have the good problem in that we have more work than resources and are suspending growing our client base in order to ensure we have the resources to service the existing base properly, and put the foundations in for growing more.

Focussing on getting that critical mass of clients who can and will refer you on is what should do the trick.

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07th Aug 2018 14:24

It was about 12 to 18 months for me. What worked for me was about 6 months in I bought a block of fees of around £45k, spent a good deal of time making that work. I found that that group of clients was the critical mass that I needed to get enough referrals to grow bigger.

We now have the good problem in that we have more work than resources and are suspending growing our client base in order to ensure we have the resources to service the existing base properly, and put the foundations in for growing more.

Focussing on getting that critical mass of clients who can and will refer you on is what should do the trick.

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07th Aug 2018 18:25

Just to round out my earlier comment.

All the business I took on was small stuff, no £10k+ fees. I also eased back on marketing at times in order to deal with backlogs of work. The alternative of course would have been to gear up resources to cope with the growth.

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By SXGuy
10th Aug 2018 09:59

When the business first started. Around 5 years. But this was over 30 years ago now.

Back then people were screaming for accountants. You only had to visit one client and manage to aquire another.

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10th Aug 2018 11:20

I started my practice 19 years ago, but have never come close to £100k fees, as I'm one of those who would rather have extra free time than more money, and I don't want the hassle of employees or an office away from home. I found growth in the first few years was about £10,000 per year with a reasonable amount of effort put into marketing without outsourcing it. If you want fast growth, you may need to consider starting with a lot of capital so you can have an office, outsource aspects of the marketing, and take on employees early.

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03rd Apr 2019 09:13

A slightly different perspective - what turnover do you think you could reach with just yourself and a bookkeeper?If you both put in 40 hours a week? I know most accountants probably do a fair bit more than 40 hours but I have used this as a ball park.

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