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Happy Birthday to Me!

6th Jun 2013
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Or rather I should say my accountancy practice.

It’s two years this month since I had the idea of starting an accountancy practice, I can remember the exact moment, I was on a three month contract with a Property Group, squeezing in three days a week alongside the other part time consultancy contracts I had.

I was thinking there had to be more to working for myself than this. I had had lofty ambitions of having an FD and FC type consultancy with perhaps several other consultants working for clients through my company. This never really got going, there was enough work for me but it was very much feast and famine and certainly never got to the point of being able to use other consultants.

I’d started to think of the numerous business owners I’d spoken to who didn’t want or need, or couldn’t afford an FD but did need financial and accounting advice and assistance. Quite, no very frustrating, the huge amount of networking and hundreds of contacts I had made seemed to be going to waste – no-one wanted me, or rather the services I was offering.

So I had the light bulb moment I referred to in my first blog post. I spent 2-3 days thinking this through and sent e-mails to several business owners I’d met. Within a couple of weeks I’d had a positive response from two which I followed up with meetings and managed to get them to agree to coming on board.

Two months later the practice was up and running and these were my first two clients, both coming from larger regional practices. I reduced their accountancy fees, offered an improved service and had £6k of fees!! (Not all my clients are this size).

The first 6 months saw slow and steady increase in client numbers and by Christmas 2011 I had around 25 clients.

At this point I was in catch 22, not enough clients to provide sufficient income to ditch the consultancy work and struggling to find enough time to see all new prospects and do the accountancy work around the consultancy work which was at one point around this time 4 days a week – for more than 3 months.

2012 was really the defining year for me, I gained more than 50 new clients and by the end of the year had stopped all consultancy type work – no more travelling to London at the crack of dawn returning home and trying to respond to around 30 e-mails a day and fit in all the accountancy work.

2013 sees me working on my terms, working from homes, getting a steady flow of new clients, occasionally spending a day out of the (home) office and seeing more of my family than I would ever have managed to if I’d stayed in full time PAYE employment.

So for anyone who is just starting out or just thinking about starting out, it can be done. The keys for me were hard work and not giving up. The thought of having to go back to full time employment in 2011 which I considered, after having worked for myself for 2 years didn’t bear thinking about.

Also the fact that my family were relying on me as the only breadwinner meant I worked harder than I ever have, for around 15 months it was 7 days a week and 60+ hours a week.

Was it worth it? Definitely.

So 2 years old and looking forward to the next 2 where rather than working harder I’ll be looking at ways to work smarter and sharing those experiences with you guys (and girls).

Happy Birthday to Me!

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Replies (15)

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By Flash Gordon
07th Jun 2013 06:32

Happy Birthday!

Can't believe you've achieved so much in two years - well done!!

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bike
By FirstTab
07th Jun 2013 07:52

Looking forward
To hearing more KA.

Well done!

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By morgani
07th Jun 2013 09:45

Well done on everything over the last 2 years and before leading up to it all.

Hopefully the next 2 years are equally as productive.

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By A mum and an accountant
07th Jun 2013 09:54

Happy 2nd birthday!
Good to hear you're doing so well with your practice.

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Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
07th Jun 2013 10:01

Looking forward

Thanks for the comments.

I have to admit in the middle of 2011 thinks were looking a little bleak and I was lacking motivation - consultancy/contract work was a mixture of boring, difficult to get, wrong location and not always well paid (sometimes you just can't choose).

Starting my practice was exciting and a little scary. I used to keep a sheet with the names of all new clients on a noticeboard next to my desk and I remember thinking after signing up the first two "where are the rest going to come from and when". 

As those of us who have been in practice a little while know, things just gradually start to happen. Once I got to 20 clients, I started to believe in what I was doing more.

I was lucky in some respects having the consultancy work as I hadn't saved up any funds for the first 6-12 month period. For those who don't have a cash buffer I would definitely recommend subcontracting/consultancy or a part time role to supplement income when first starting out.

 

 

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Locutus of Borg
By Locutus
07th Jun 2013 10:43

Happy Birthday KA
I've always been impressed by how quickly you've grown in just 2 years.

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Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
07th Jun 2013 11:03

Well Done

You are quite literally the wind beneath my wings and an inspiration to us all.#

LOL

Happy birthday and treat your self to an early finish, it is Friday after all.

 

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Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
07th Jun 2013 12:00

Birthday treat

I might take the weekend off ;)

I do realise that I've done pretty well in 2 years and I also know a fair bit is down to luck.

I've certainly found the quote 'the harder I work the luckier I get' very true, especially in our sector.

We're very lucky to be an industry where almost all business people require our services so provided we do a decent job, make people aware of what we do and charge a fair price we shouldn't go without.

 

 

 

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By ShirleyM
07th Jun 2013 12:31

Well done, KA :)

You've worked hard and reaped the rewards.

I love to hear this sort of news, rather than the doom & gloom type news. I'd like more, please, so keep on blogging, and keep giving us more hope and inspiration.

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By Heather Townsend
07th Jun 2013 15:41

Well Done!

Great to hear how hard work and focus have been rewarded.

Enjoy spending more time with your family.

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By redman7
07th Jun 2013 17:18

Well done :-)

Many happy (tax) returns :-)

Will be coming up to my first birthday in a couple of months 

RM

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By MarionMorrison
10th Jun 2013 01:05

2? A mere child!

I'm rolling around to 30 next year and it's still been a delight (well mainly).  I think those who go into practice do so for all sorts of reasons.  To provide you with a sense of purpose and to grow something seem to be top of the list.  For me it was actually because we wanted to start a family and have my wife return to work and hell, having a few clients wouldn't conflict with raising our beautiful first-born would it?  Bonkers in hindsight of course....

But what I do identify with is the client list.  I still have those lists of 30 clients dated April 84, and then when the list fitted neatly onto a sheet of A4.  Now it's nearer 900 and it's all databases, but pleasingly I still have around half of the initial clients (well those that are still alive).  Make sure you keep momentos of these early days, they'll provide hours of endless fun in your dotage.

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Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
10th Jun 2013 12:44

900

I think I'll be calling it a day long before I get to 900.

100 at the moment and I'm happy at this level for the time being. If I manage to grow steadily that will enable me to take advantage of efficiencies, train Mrs KA (she's doing a bookkeeping course) and stay pretty much as I am.

Appreciate all the comments and will keep blogging! 

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By ChrisScullard
11th Jun 2013 10:26

Congratulations on your first two years.  I first had the idea to start a practice in May 2011 after going to an ICAEW Starting Your Own Practice seminar, mainly out of curiosity rather than expecting to actually do it! I got my practising certificate on 1 July 2011.

It seems we have followed very similar paths.  I too was doing consultancy work prior to setting up the practice, and also wanted to structure the business as an accountancy firm who provides FC/FD type services to small businesses who couldn't afford or justify employing someone full time to do it.

Our paths diverge a bit when it comes to numbers of clients acquired though!!  I'm nowhere near your numbers (maybe having a 1 year old when I started and a baby less than a year in has hindered the business growth a bit!) but with the clients I have and one regular sub-contracting client I'm managing OK.  The client numbers you speak about are definitely an inspiration and a motivation!!

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Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
11th Jun 2013 11:18

@Chris

Yes little people can cause havoc especially when working from home. I'm lucky that the previous owner of my house (old farmhouse) converted part of barn into an office which I work from. So home to work in 30 seconds and it gets me out of the house!

Good luck with your practice.

 

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