What I wish I’d known when starting my practiceby
Starting up a practice can be a daunting thing to do. The AccountingWEB community understands this first-hand and shares the best advice they received – or wish they had received – when they were starting up.
Whether you’re just thinking about starting up a practice or whether your journey is well underway, it’s always useful to gain insight from seasoned professionals who’ve all been there before.
AccountingWEB took to Any Answers to get some great tips ahead of the Festival of Accounting and Bookkeeping where there will be four sessions each day for those who are interested in starting up or have recently started a practice.
We're also going to be running an online webinar after #FAB24 on 21 March, where we'll be speaking with Sam Mitcham and Jonathan Goff, two practitioners who've been through it all, we'll be joined by Chris Downing from Sage and we'll be sharing the best insights and tips on which will discuss how to start a practice. You can register now for the free webinar.
AccountingWEB therefore wanted to know what advice our members had been given or wished they had been given before they started their practice and whether they could offer some words of wisdom to those thinking about taking the leap.
The community bares all
Commenter Dougscott rallied off a list of tips that they had learnt over the years which included:
- Don’t feel like you have to take on every client that approaches you;
- Treat all clients with respect;
- Refer clients if you do not have the knowledge to advise them properly;
- Respond quickly to clients.
However, as with much advice, its relevance depends on various strategies and approaches. For instance, AccountingWEB member, adam.arca disagreed with Dougscott’s point that you don’t have to take on every client.
Adam.arca said that he was told by his father’s accountant to take on as many clients as possible and not to reject any because they seem too small.
“He wasn’t being absolutely literal but I’ve broadly followed his advice and ended up with some absolute dogs for clients along the way. On the other hand, one of my very best clients came to me as a 17-year-old wannabe landscape gardener and he’s now a multi-millionaire,” he commented.
Another member, Jdopus agreed with a different point that Dougscott made, emphasising the importance of good client communication. They said that this was the most important factor for client retention.
Jdopus wrote, “Always return client calls and reply to client emails and you will rarely if ever lose clients. Nothing will annoy a client more than feeling ignored or that they're not worth your time.”
Some other main points that the Any Answers community came up with were:
Get your pricing structure right from the start
AWEB commenter spilly said, “It’s easy to be a busy fool, wondering why you are always working, but still not making much money. Make sure clients know from the outset that you will be charging them for extras such as letters, references, CGT calculations etc. These things are more time-consuming than you think.”
Find a niche
Finding a niche in accounting not only allows differentiation in the profession but also allows you to offer more valuable insights and services to clients.
A niche was encouraged by Maslins who wanted others to learn from his mistake. “I ignored that advice because I didn’t want to eliminate lots of potential clients. However, I regretted ignoring that advice because I struggled for a year before I finally fell into a niche.”
Don’t take things personally
Regular contributor Mr Hankey shared a piece of advice commonly offered to accountants who deal with difficult clients.
He wrote, “Grow a thick skin, you’re going to need it!”
If clients decide to leave or if they lack professional courtesy, it can be easy to think it was your fault and it takes time to not take these situations personally. However, remembering that it’s a business relationship can help maintain professionalism and a good reputation.
Have more questions about starting up your practice? Sign up for our webinar on 21 March in association with Sage. And book your free ticket for the Festival of Accounting and Bookkeeping on 13-14 March at the NEC, Birmingham.