Are you running a successful practice?

Black businessman got a gold award from monitor
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There’s a constant chatter amongst ex-practitioners eager to tell us about their successful practice, or the gurus and consultants in the sector who want to tell us how to be successful without having done it themselves.

If any of us (me included) look at our practices there are always things we can change to improve, some will be a quick fix, others will require a longer-term approach.

But what defines whether we are or will be successful? Is it:

  • Running a £1m practice working three days a week?
  • Winning an accountancy sector (enter name here) award?
  • Having a practice that runs itself?
  • Growing 50% every year, getting 10 new clients every month?

Don’t let anyone (me included) tell you whether you’re successful - or not.

Ultimately it comes down to what you want to achieve and what helps you achieve personal freedom.

That freedom could be financial; not having to worry about money, paying off the mortgage, building a pension pot, paying for the children to get through university.

Perhaps having more time is what appeals; not being tied to the desk, taking two weeks off in the summer, being able to take a day off when you feel like it.

If you are on the way to achieving these there’s a good change you’ll be free (most of the time) from the stress that comes from work – lack of time and money.

A lot of the marketing blurb about success is just that – blurb. Coming from those that haven’t achieved it, telling you how you should do it and pay them an eye-watering amount for the ‘advice’.

There’s no magic pill: work out what you want to do and go and achieve it.

If you’re struggling to do this, or perhaps you’re not sure where to start, go and speak to your peers.

Threads on AccountingWEB’s Any Answers are a great place to start. In my early days, I consumed a huge amount of the information available on AccountingWEB and it helped me get started.

Success for me? Earning enough money to provide for my family, working with clients I like and having enough time to do things that I enjoy outside of work.

What does success look like for you? Growth? Work-life balance? Or is it something else? And, are you there yet or is it something that you’re building towards?

About Mark Telford

Mark Telford Chartered Accountant

I am an Award Winning Chartered Accountant and work with ambitious business owners to help them achieve their goals. 

I do this not by submitting accounts and tax returns on time  - that's the bare minimum, but by helping them achieve more. This can be business growth, business sale, succession or retirement planning, business improvement and most importantly personal goals. 

All businesses should have a plan and its important to measure performance and make sure you are on track to achieve your goals. I will work with you to achieve this.

I founded Telfords Chartered Accountants as I could see that many small businesses were not getting the business support and advice they needed from their accountant. Regular financial and commercial support throughout the year is essential to help a business achieve the results the owners want.

By using cloud software from the very start we have been able to provide a year round service which helps businesses be the best they can. 

We have been using Xero since 2010 and encourage all clients to use it as we believe it is the best accounting software to help them run their businesses. 

I have now started working with other accountants to help them run a more profitable, efficient and enjoyable practice, providing a higher level of service to their clients - not just accounts and tax returns.


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11th Sep 2018 12:52

Extract above
'A lot of the marketing blurb about success is just that – blurb. Coming from those that haven’t achieved it, telling you how you should do it and pay them an eye-watering amount for the ‘advice’.'

Sounds about right,the selling of over simplistic nonsense.

Thanks (0)
11th Sep 2018 14:16

It may surprise some readers but I largely agree with you (again) Mark.

I have long avoided the promotion of simplistic solutions or any suggestion that there is one thing that all accountants must do. It's nonsense, as you say.

Many other advisers to the profession focus only on helping firms to achieve 'success' through growth - using marketing, pricing or social media.

My preference is to encourage the sole practitioners with whom I work, to define success on their own terms. And then, if I can help them on their journey (and they can afford my input), we may work together.

There is no one-size fits all solution that's right for everyone.

Thanks (1)
to bookmarklee
11th Sep 2018 19:23

Hi Mark - its surprising how many people start out in business not really knowing why they do it other than to earn some money.

Its only once they're asked 'why' that they start to look at the bigger picture.

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13th Sep 2018 08:44

Agreed Mark, I enjoy your articles as you talk straight no fluff. Find what works for you and your life and get some tips from those who have bern in the hot seat. My favourite experts are always those who have been there and done it!

Thanks (1)