When running an accounting firm, there are more numbers to consider besides the ones on a client’s tax return. Accounting firm growth and success depends on a firm’s ability to keep revenue on an upward trajectory and innovate your business model if needed. Here, you’ll find five ideas to help you think proactively about where you’ve been, where you’re going, and how to get there.
Specialize your practice
You’ve been serving clients in various industries and doing it well. As disruption in the accounting space mounts, you’re thinking about what more you can do to help your firm stand out.
- Picking a niche for your firm could be the answer. Developing a high level of specialization in a certain industry allows your team to go deeper in understanding your clients. You can become a firm that knows the accounting needs of a particular vertical better than anyone.
- How to get there: Once you commit to specializing, analyze your client base. What are your earnings by industry? What leadership styles do you prefer? Could you be the #1 or #2 provider in an industry? Do your due diligence before going full steam ahead.
You’ve been watching your staff spend hours upon hours filing paperwork and logging receipts. After all, that’s how it’s always been done, and there’s no urgency to change things.
- Automating repetitive tasks is the quickest way to improve the productivity of your team. Software exists to help you do the manual data entry that takes up so much time. If staff shouldn’t worry that they’re being automated out of a job: employees will now be freed up to work with clients on automating their back offices as well.
- How to get there: Observe your team at work and identify the biggest inefficiencies. Research software solutions such as Expensify for receipts, bill.com for cloud-based payment processing and reconciliation, and Gusto for cloud-based payroll. Take it one change at a time, and soon you’ll have the kind of back office that clients will want to hear more about. Which brings us to…
Introduce advisory services
You’ve been performing the basic services that clients expect from their accounting firm: accounting, auditing, tax filing, planning. It’s what every firm does, and the last thing you would want to do is scare clients off by adding services they’ve never seen before.
- Providing new advisory services is, in fact, a terrific way to bring even greater value to the work you do with clients. Your financial expertise provides personalized guidance to help tighten clients’ accounting practices and spot landmines in the path ahead. As your clients do better, so do you – your reputation will travel fast and far.
- How to get there: It all ties back to specialization. Once you truly begin to seek more depth of knowledge regarding a client’s industry, you’ll be able to provide unparalleled counsel in accounting. Advisory services could include a monthly call, a quarterly projection, or consulting on business functions like human resources.
Add recurring revenue
You’ve been accustomed to the cyclical ebb and flow of revenue that is typical of most CPA practices. It’s all hands on deck when you’re in the thick of busy season… and a heavy dose of weekday golf during the summer. You’re not the only accountant who struggles to see any other way.
- Adjusting your revenue model to include a greater percentage of recurring revenue could be a game changer for your business. Minimize the volatile ups and downs in revenue so your practice is on steadier ground. The more value you provide your clients, the more regularly they will enjoy hearing from you.
- How to get there: Various year-round services can help your business bring in income during slow periods. Consider bookkeeping services, regular advisory calls, or managing client dashboards among the possibilities.
Offer cutting edge tools
You’ve been printing reports for as long as you can remember. It’s all plain as day, and they are always well received. You might not even be sure how you could improve upon this simple tool for showing clients the status of their accounting.
- Transitioning to business analytics and dashboard tools is a way to help clients keep a timely pulse on their business. You can set up the tools they need, and then help keep them up to date with tools like Live Plan and Fathom.
- How to get there: Investigate cloud-based accounting tools like Xero for connecting with your clients in real time. You can help business leaders run their business via a dashboard. It’s what they need and want – they just might not know it yet.
Returns on revenue
Do these five ideas get you thinking about a brighter financial picture for your firm? I hope so. Technology has the potential to make our businesses more profitable, more efficient, and a lot more fun to run. Take advantage of all that it can offer you!