Many people who study accounting do so with the eventual goal of starting their own practice. Starting your own business is no easy task, it requires more than exemplary accounting skills. However, the route to self-employment in accounting has been thoroughly mapped. Learning how to start an accounting business means following the steps that have proven successful to other self-employed professional accountants. In addition to the traditional activities required for setting up a small business, there are some details to take into consideration that are specific to the accounting industry:

Determine your niche: It’s common to find that self-employed accountants maintain very small firms. These firms often cater to individuals for tax preparation or SMEs for basic accounting, auditing, and tax filing services. However, your vision and personal experience in accounting may lead you to establish a different type of business – e.g. If you have consulting experience, for example, you could establish an accounting consultancy firm. Your business could offer clients solutions for streamlining their accounting process and tightening their internal controls. This might include software training and staffing recommendations.

Consider alternative entry strategies: Like any other business, there are several ways to get started. You could start off from the scratch, you could start by picking up part-time clients, or by partnering with an established accountant, or you could even buy an existing firm. Assessing your financial obligations in your personal life, your comfort level with risk and your vision for the company should help you determine your entry strategy.

Prepare a comprehensive business plan: The business plangives you a wholistic approach to developing your business – from strategy to operations, marketing to financial plans, as well as defining your business vision, mission, and core values. Furthermore, The business plan is also crucial when trying to obtain financing from lenders, and it can also help you make sure you’ve planned everything well.

Structuring your business is another important part of a business plan. Limited liability companies (LLC) and limited liability partnerships (LLP) are very popular structures for small accounting firms. C-corporations and S-corporations are ideal if you plan to expand your business widely, and sole proprietorships work well in accounting because insurance considerations are generally low. Overall, the plan should demonstrate that you understand your target market and have plans in place to manage the administrative and financial aspects of your accounting firm.

Incorporate and start promoting your business: Incorporating your practice, buying supplies, and renting out office space are relatively straightforward tasks. It is important you are technically competent to handle your client projects and that you also make them believe this. However it will be more important for your business that you focus on selling – on promoting your services. You need to formalize a sales cycle: a process for finding prospects, cultivating your relationship with them, educating them about your services, offering your services to the right ones, fulfilling their expectations, and developing that relationship with them.

Take advantage of the online freelance marketplace

Establishing a robust online presence is also a consideration to strengthen your marketing position – a website, social media presence, etc. Furthermore, did you know there are websites that advertise thousands of real freelance jobs every day, many of which are for accounting and professional services? You can create an account for free, and start applying to jobs within minutes. Go to sites like www.upworks.com, www.peopleperhour.com, etc to get started.

Always keep an open mind – quick to learn trends and new imaginations in your line of business. Persistence and the determination to succeed are the most important skills you bring to the table


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