Stories of starting a practice

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As I look forward to a new year, I'm seriously planning 2024 as my year to start the practice I've dreamed of for so long. I'd love to hear of peoples experiences of doing the same, so I can hear both of the successes for motivation and also the challenges I need to prepare for. It's worth noting that I've worked in industry for 25 years (I do have my practising licence though) and am aware that it's a very different world with a steep learning curve to climb 

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By David Ex
31st Dec 2023 16:09

bluesian1210 wrote:

It's worth noting that I've worked in industry for 25 years (I do have my practising licence though) and am aware that it's a very different world with a steep learning curve to climb 

There are plenty of posts about starting practices including those, like you, not in practice.

Not sure what your industry roles have been and how old you are but I honestly struggle to see how it’s a good idea however committed you are. Good luck anyway.

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By David Ex
31st Dec 2023 16:19

I posted a response which has been “queued”.

EDIT: Just saw that you posted numerous times 10 odd years ago saying you had clients. So you have some experience albeit not very recent. My missing post assumed you’d none.

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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
31st Dec 2023 20:30

In Bruce Reynolds' self-penned tome "The Autobiography of a Thief" he tells of pre-Great-Train-Robbery jail residencies in which the older lags passed the time by planning and equipping themselves for the derring-do of a Great Escape: they made rope, bribed guards, copied keys; but never actually took the plunge.

Whenever it came to actually going through with the plan - by going over the wall themselves - they always sold-out their equipment for snout and other such comforts. Whereupon they'd return contendedly to stage 1, the drawing board, all safe and sound to resume their planning from scratch.

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
By FactChecker
31st Dec 2023 21:33

Never knew our politicians (of all stripes) shared *such* a close genomic bond and aversion to risk as the old lags of the '60s ... maybe we should've tried a job-swap scheme?

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Replying to FactChecker:
By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
31st Dec 2023 22:00

You're thinking of Boris? Mr Sit-on-the-fence?

I'm rather sorry I voted for Brexit now. I truly bekieved Boris had a plan - maybe he would build autobahns or get the railways running properly. His accomplice, Nigel, went on to have his fetish for marsupials exposed.

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By johnthegood
01st Jan 2024 12:26

A few years ago I had a new employee join me from industry, the first set of accounts he did for a small client he came running in all pleased with himself telling me the client would be happy because he had done a few things to show him with a nice big profit. I hated to break it to him that a) thats the exact opposite of what the client will want and b) they will not even look at the accounts, all they want is the tax figure.

There are good clients out there who are genuinely interested in the numbers but they are small minority and you will find that you care far more about the accounts and compliance than they do.

Over the years the workers who have stayed in practice are the ones that are able to talk to clients on their level and the ones that are able to get the job done quickly and accurately without preparing a load of unnecessary schedules.

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Replying to johnthegood:
the sea otter
By memyself-eye
01st Jan 2024 17:15

Agree 100%
Clients care nothing for dry numbers, it's only the "tax" they are interested in.
As a Spitfire pilot once said "I don't care who made the engine - will the bu**er fly?

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By Kaylee100
01st Jan 2024 14:21

I've retired but these nuggets of experience, I think, are worth sharing.

I was in practice with a business partner and he was taken seriously ill twice in the final 5 years and so I was left running it entirely on my own.

What I really missed, in terms of the practice when he was unavailable, was having someone to bounce ideas off of and discuss complex queries with. I developed an arrangement with a larger local firm who I could pass specialist and complex work to and who would act as an alternate if anything happened to me as well. They were excellent and never ever poached clients from us, just dealing with the specific engagements they took on. They were also very helpful to me and were on the end of a phone, at those moments when you question yourself even though something is relatively straightforward.

That was the hardest thing about being "on my own" so to speak.

Other issues with being on my own were....

- Having to mend the IT in the office on a regular basis. We had 8 PCs and 3 printers and it felt like there was always something needing attention. You can use IT companies to come in but a lot of things are relatively minor so can be fixed internally.

- Having access to HR advisers for employment issues that arise. Sometimes, despite our small team, things come at you left of field. The good news is there are a lot of subscriptions you can buy to support you in this area.

- Making sure your CPD and training cover everything you need to do,not just tax and accounting update courses. Ensuring your practice management and AML systems are water tight and up to date.

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Routemaster image
By tom123
01st Jan 2024 16:45

Why would you want to?

Like you, I have worked in industry, (manufacturing, now education) for 25 years (eek..)

I love what I do, and it has always been well paid.

A friend does accounts for sole traders etc - Nothing about the work sounds appealing to me. Nagging and nagging for credit card receipts, 12 bank statements covering 12 months, bearing in mind you are working 10 months after the year end.

Now - of course many of my learned friends on here will of course enjoy their work, and make a good living - but, to my mind, there are not enough similarities to make it worth changing. You would be starting again..

I added ATT to my CIMA qualification a few years ago - but even with that, I wouldn't feel in the least qualified to do anything but the most basic trader.

You are your own "boss" - but, in reality, the client is the "boss" and he or she can be a pain...

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By Moonbeam
02nd Jan 2024 15:15

You could be happy and eventually make a good living if you think carefully about which clients would be right for you and could pay you good fees without bleating on all the time. Also choose the best sector to concentrate on.
Definitely don't go down the road of sole traders and people whose ability to make a profit is non existent.
Use your commercial experience to advise businesses possibly more on the management accounting side than the tax side. Many successful entrepreneurs of your age need help to move up a notch because they've not grasped the fact that a good set of accounts can make the difference. Your experience for this may be streets ahead of similar accountants with a pure practice background.
(I came from commerce and did nothing but management accounts for many years, and I only worked with good quality clients before taking on small tax clients in addition.)
Once you've decided on your target audience, get some help from a marketing expert on how to find them. It's the marketing in the early days that is so tough.
Oh, and let us know how it goes. Aweb is a fantastic place to get help.
Good luck!

Thanks (2)
the sea otter
By memyself-eye
02nd Jan 2024 17:57

Nowt wrong with 'sole traders' they are the most loyal of clients and you will be lucky to bag a big fish at the outset. Remember large oaks sometimes grow from little acorns. My wife (now that I'm retired) works for one and is handsomely rewarded!

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