Practice Excellence: Lessons for start-ups

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AccountingWEB has already reported on the winners of the ‘new practice’ award, Accountancy Advantage, and how they do things differently. In this article I will offer a personal reflection of the entries that reached the second stage of the awards process, explains Mark Lee. 

This involved the judges comparing and discussing the shortlisted entries which had been anonymised to avoid any possibility of favouritism.

The judges focused on five key areas: Mission statements, client care, financial performance, growth and process improvements. The views below are mine alone and may or may not be shared by my fellow judges.

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  • Mission statements
  • Client care
  • Financial performance
  • Growth
  • Process improvements

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About Mark Lee

Mark Lee 2017

These days Mark Lee focuses his business actiities on  two key activities:

1 - He loves being engaged to speak on stage to audiences of accountants in all size of firms. His latest keynopte talk is: The rise of Robo-Accountants - and how to beat them. He is an accountancy focused speaker, futurist and influencer with a positive reputation for entertaining, engaging and enthusing his audiences.

2 - He loves supporting savvy sole practitioners who want more out of their practice.  More clients, more money, more time, more satisfaction - or everything!

An accountant by profession, Mark moved away from the provision of professional advice in 2006.   He is now a professional speaker, mentor, author and debunker.

Mark is passionate about helping accountants generally so is a keen blogger and commentator in the accounting and tax press. He has been consultant practice editor of AccountingWEB and has written hudnreds of articles here that have been viewed over a million times.

Check out how he could help you here:

Mark no longer gives tax advice despite being a past Chairman of the Chartered Accountants’ Tax Faculty. He is however Chairman of the Tax Advice Network - the UK's highest ranked lead generation website for tax advisers and accountants. The network also publishes a weekly practical tax update for accountants in general practice and full tax support, on demand too.  You can also use it as a lead generation resource for local people seeking tax advice from an accountant.

Mark has extensive network reach through his blog, talks, social media activity, articles and his regular 'Magic of Success' tips and tricks email that goes to thousands of accountants every week.


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23rd Oct 2012 11:03


Has any, or will any research be done on the sustainability of these winners?  Will their progress be monitored? I must admit I started out with all the focus on what I was trying to achieve but found flexibility and common sense being replaced by compliance and rigidity. No doubt the winners have been bought up with these constraints. The writing on process improvements would really only refer to a larger practice cos there is no way you could implement that sort of process with 300-400 clients, unless you were charging them a fortune.

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23rd Oct 2012 11:35


I think those are questions for John Stokdyk. I was simply a judge.  This is a serious evolving project for AccountingWeb and I know that John is keen for it to continue to improve and become more robust each year.


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23rd Oct 2012 23:33

Natural development?

@johnjenkins - being a new practice I have found that process development is essential to streamline activities and increase efficiency. It is very easy to get bogged down with process and also getting to know new clients.

I'm finding in my second year that for client's whose accounts I did last year for the first time, I'm now able to complete the work in the second year far quicker.

I also spend far less time on fee quotes, engagement letters etc as I have a templates I'm happy with and am more confident.

I also find that the rose tint has faded and has been replaced with practicality.

I'm more interested in providing a good service, earning decent fees, getting a steady flow of referrals from happy customers and will leave the touchy feely stuff to others.


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24th Oct 2012 12:50

AccountingWEB mentoring.

@johnjenkins and @KentAccountant - why not take a look at the AccountingWEB mentoring project

There's some great advice for practice development and a number of blog posts which take a "year one, year two, etc." approach to monitoring progress.

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24th Oct 2012 15:24

Thanks Mark, I am just about finished my first year and looking forward to the next.

There are some points raised that I will put some effort into thinking about, some that I see as point scoring to a judge and not particularly real (am I too cynical?), and some that I can compare myself to and pat myself on the back (or not!) and identifiy where I can improve

Reading articles likes this helps to keep focus and a business overview instead of being bogged down with the day to day activities. 

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to jaffe123
24th Oct 2012 22:01

Spot on

debbie pearce wrote:

There are some points raised ... that I see as point scoring to a judge and not particularly real (am I too cynical?), 



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