You have made the decision to move, and whether it is the right or wrong decision, you are now committed.
Your only option now is to really make it work - and by that I mean marketing the hell out of it to current and prospective clients and capitalising on the positive side of having your own premises.
Most decisions in life can be looked on with regret if you let them - should I have become and accountant? Why did I leave that firm? Could I have done better in that client meeting? Did I drink too much last night? And so on. I'm a big believer in looking forwards and not back, and using every decision as a lesson to guide future actions.
You took a big step in moving away from the comfort of services offices. That's a massive positive, and a decision a lot of business owners are scared to make. Hence why they are still small businesses 10 or 20 years down the line.
My only advice now would be to ensure you hold plenty of client meetings there, and prospect meetings, to capitalise on the money spent and create a great impression to clients and potential clients.
As someone once said "failure is not an option".
I have to disagree with the comments you have made regarding Accountants being business advisers.
Many Accountants, perhaps the majority, are just number crunchers - it's what they were born to do and do very well.
However some of us have very good entrepreneurial vision, which coupled with our analytical skills and problem solving ability, makes us great advisers to businesses. Personally I feel that I'm more an entrepreneur than an accountant at times, the ideas I produce at client meetings have lead to millions of pounds of extra turnover and profits for my clients over the years. I've also got a few calls wrong, which happens, but the lessons learned have always been valuable and have helped the clients to become better in the long term. Nobody had to take my advice though and quite a few don't, and I do take a shameful pride when my advice turns out to have been correct :)
In relation to your new premises I think it's great you have really gone for it and invested in professional help. I'm sure it will look wonderful and look forward to you sharing some images in the blog when it's done.
Just do it and tell him that unfortunately the process is all laid out by the council and you have to follow their regulations.
The alternative is that he receives a large volume of post that comes for you and has to bring that to you, and that his address will also become by default the registered office address of quite a number of businesses which means even more post and potentially the bailiffs etc calling to collect client monies.
He seems to have no leg to stand on, but they say it could take 3 months and I would imagine the process is much longer in these circumstances
I would look at the property purchase as a marketing investment, and a cost neutral (ish) move (the savings in rent almost covering the mortgage maybe) but in terms of capital gains I would be surprised if there are any for some years given the property market at the moment.
What it does do is give you a fresh start, and a chance to hopefully rethink some of your strategies if not meeting clients for example. When the office is refurbished, and is how you want it to be, it could add a lot of value to your client relationships.
I would love to be able to fast forward 12 months, and see how the move to new offices has impacted on your business - as in the number of enquiries you receive etc.
I think a well placed office, with good signage, can do wonders for a practice especially when the target market is smaller businesses/start ups.
We had new signs installed in 2015, which are illuminated at night, and we noticed an almost immediate increase in the number of visitors to our website and phone enquiries. We didn't get 100s of calls, but the new clients we signed up more than paid for the cost of the Signs in the first 6 months.
That said, we have been around for about 90 years and do a lot of marketing so it might just be a coincidence!
Do you currently have a documented process for accounts preparation, VAT Return preparation etc?
If not, that's the first step!
If you do, is it the system that isn't working, or is it that people aren't following the system?
Once you have streamlined your basic compliance processes, the next stage is to try and educate clients to be able to improve the accuracy of their data/records. This saves you time and increases profitability whilst giving the clients better data to work on.
I get the impression that you struggle to focus on tasks and get easily distracted. I strongly suggest reading "getting things done" or "the 7 habits of highly effective people" and implementing the ideas from those. "Eat that frog" is also good.
When you are using your time effectively and the systems are being followed, you should have more time for working on the business.
Hope these suggestions help.
@FirstTab, what are your plans for the practice this year? By which I mean, what particular systems and processes do you wish to introduce or improve?
Having read your blog religiously for quite a while I'm struggling to get a good insight into what you really want?
If you have systems, but are struggling to implement them then why is that the case when you only have one staff member?
I'm hoping that I can help if you answer the above, as someone who has been responsible for significant change in our own practice.
Apprentices are such a great way to grow your team, we have been really fortunate to have taken on some exceptional individuals over the past few years, who have picked things up easily and are a credit to the firm.
We always target those who have a strong academic background, with good enough GCSEs and A Levels to get into a top 20 university. Then they go through AAT (all funded by the government and on day release) and then onto ICAEW (or ACCA if they wished).
Your aim to have a portfolio of "gold" clients is a great target, and based on what I have read on your blogs you seem perfectly positioned to do this. The challenge with this sort of work is that, as you'll know, the work isn't easily delegated to more junior team members and it can put a bit strain on your time once you get 20 or so clients of this type.
Systems and processes, and training of junior team members to deliver a scaled down version of what you do with the bigger clients, would be a great way to balance this.
Really excited to see how this year goes for you and I wish you all the success! Please keep us posted with how it's going, I love reading about what other firms are doing and seeing success stories like yours!
Sounds like you've got focus and determination, so I'm sure this year is going to be a great one for you.
Maybe this year is the time to look for an apprentice, or an experienced assistant, to take some pressure off you so you can focus on prospect meetings etc? If you're still based from home then this might not be ideal - so possibly getting some reasonably priced office space shortly before getting the assistant in would be the way forward.
There's a limit to what can be done on your own, so this would really put in place the foundations for serious growth over the next 2 years and gives cover for you to take holidays etc.
I think it's possible for a small practice to bring in £60k of new work each year quite comfortably with the right marketing and sales approach to the right type of clients and it looks like you've already nailed that!
Good advice Ben, thank you. I will think on it over the holidays and see if I can figure out a route to get to where I want us to be. I will keep you informed......