2018 was a bit of a milestone year for me as in August I had been in accountancy for 30 years. Yes in 1988m, aged just 16 I started training with a local 4 partner firm and the rest as they say is history. Sadly though I have more of my career behind me than I have in front of me, the last 10 years seem to have flown over.
I have a client who does marketing and PR and he does some work for me as a fee trade off. One of the things he suggested to boost my practice profile was to enter a few awards. My main competition locally are 4/5 partner firms with over 50 years trading under their belts so it has been tough establising myself as the new kid on the block. Whilst people will have their own views around award winners, I have seen the benefits they can bring to a buisness and have been in winning teams a lot over the years but never won anything in my own right.
So this year I was short listed for 2 NE business awards and an Accounting Excellence award and actually won "Best UK sole practitioner" from Xero in Novemeber. The Xero award was totally unexepcted and I was blown away at receiving it at Xerocon, the icing on the cake for my 30th year.
I was also quite suprised at the some of the comments I received from some big hitters in the gane at the AE awards as they all wanted me to do well and were rooting for me, when most had not even met me before, but I must be doing something right.
Anyway this year has been a hard slog, I have been very busy on boarding some good jobs. I have taken work off all the big firms around me and the quality of my fee bank has moved up a level.
After a lot of trial and error and lessons learned I am about 80% there with what an AM client looks like, and now need to get more of the same.
A trap I feel myself drawn into is that of a compliance factory. Locallly I can get a lot of standard small jobs who want nothing more than a good standard compliance job. I do not want 500 clients although I have thought about more than a few times. What I want 50/60 good clients that want a full service and are able to pay a decent fee. I am getting with this but it is not easy, you cannot only get these jobs.
in 2019 I am going to pull my generic marketing and have a more focussed approach I have a list of about 25 local business I would like to act for and I am going to focus on trying to trogan horse myself into them via my local network.
Overall I am very happy with how the year has developed and now need to focus less on winning new work and isntead want to upsell more to existing clients.
It hasnt all been plain sailing I have a had a lot of time wasters approach me with pipe drems that got no where but wasted a lot of time and resource. You learn from this though. I had dropped my hours this year and passed more work out to others, I enjoyed the summer and spent a lot of time with the familiy. Probably dropped my hours down too much and I am little behind on work now, last year I was finsihed tax returns by end of November this year I will be working right through Jan to get caught up. Next year I need to do a lot better with tax returns as too busy currently.
Away from work I have struggled a lot this year, my dad now suffers from dementia and his health has deteritaed a lot this last year. We vowed he would always be cared for in his own home and not a care home. A promise I think we will struggle to keep. I have had to put a lot of time in helping my mam, its been a tough balanacing act as I also have a 12 year old daughter who has a very active social life. My dad has been in hospita 3 times in the 2 weeks prior to the holidays which has not been good although he was home for the holidays and not too bad health wise. There has been times when I have been close to telling everyone to go and look after themselves for a day so I could go an have some time to myslef to go fishing or whatever, but I dont, I bite my lip and keep going.
On top of the family stuff I had a house I rent come back to me needing a lot of work doing it ended up a right old job to get sorted. It needed everything doing, one job led to another, so I ended up spending a lot of time and money getting it sorted which took me away from working on my business. I ended up doing some jobs myslef, a mistake when I was 30 I did a lot of property stuff but I have not got the desire now, and so I got some of my clients in to finish it off, something I should have done in day 1. I have some great clients but dont have all trades covered.
This year I am wanting to grow by providing additional services to existing clients and only take on new jobs if they are of a high standard or show great potential. I am wanting to roll out "The Gap" across my practice as I see that as offering me great potential to grow and earn better fees.
I also want to really move on my Xero based work to the next level, I have won a few clients lately where they have been on Xero but only a basic setup and would benefit from more.
I also need to nail practice management down that is a task for after Janaury. I have a few clients that are not working out I need to drop and also need to look at fees as I think I am still too cheap.
My year end is March, So i will be busy in Janaury, I need Feb & March to re group and get ready for my next year business plan.
With Brexit and MTD on the cards for this year its going to be eventful.
So after a few days off, I will be hitting the ground running in January and hitting 2019 hard.
Good luck to everyone, its been a up hill battle but I am getting there.