5 tips when starting a new accounting firm

Are you ready to go it alone and start your CPA or accounting firm? In addition to choosing your business structure and familiarizing yourself with applicable labor laws, there are things you can do if you decide to go it alone.

Create a work budget

When creating a work budget, be sure to include all the basics. If you don’t plan to work from home, you’ll need to budget for rent as well as staff costs, including payroll taxes and insurance. You will also need to consider technology costs such as computers and laptops as well as software costs for the business. Finally, don’t forget to include marketing and advertising costs, which are always important, but especially for a new business looking for customers.

What is your niche?

Before your business is up and running, it’s important to decide which area, if any, you want to focus on. While some accountants and CPAs may be more comfortable with a variety of clients, others prefer to focus on a specific area. For example, Eric Burgmaier, a CPA with a practice in Albuquerque, NM, specializes in providing accounting services for dentists.

Eric and his wife Cheryl, also a CPA and business partner, attended Joe Woodard’s Scaling New Heights conference in New Orleans several years ago, where the conference leaders talked a lot about being an advisor. “We felt that in order to be able to advise, we needed to focus on one or two areas where we could learn more about their business and be able to ask more in-depth questions about their business,” says Eric.

But alongside specialized services for lawyers and medical professionals, many CPA firms also specialize in offering services to other types of businesses. You may also decide to generalize your practice at first and then later move into a particular niche. It’s not a decision you have to make right away, but if you already know that, that’s fine.

Invest in social networks

The first thing you will need to do is invest in a quality website, but you can’t stop there. Although important, websites are static and do not change much from day to day. This is why investing in a solid social media strategy is so important. Social media helps you interact with your community, raising your profile while helping to attract new potential customers. According to a recent survey, 83% of Instagram users discovered new products or services on the platform. Hiring a tech-savvy social media strategist can help you build your business from day one.

Use the right technology

Getting started with the right technology in place can save you a lot of time and money down the road. Why fragment your technology strategy when you can have an all-in-one software solution that can help you manage your practice, prepare your tax returns, and communicate with your clients? Buying separate programs means spending a lot of time entering the same data multiple times, while having a single, powerful program in place can help you automate the whole process. Getting the right technology in place from the start will save you time, money, and aggravation, so you can focus on more important things, like growing your business.

Be picky about your customers

Even if you don’t have a particular niche, you’ll need to be discerning about which clients you’re willing to take on. For example, before hiring a new client, especially for substantive work, make sure they are financially solvent, otherwise you will spend most of your time trying to collect your fees. You will also need to consider whether you want to accept any type of engagement or limit it to areas in which you are more comfortable working. Of course, as you add staff this may also change, but initially you may want to limit customers to areas you are more comfortable with.

Starting a CPA business can be a lot of work, but the ability to make your own decisions, from what technology to use to the type of business you’re taking on, can be worth it.

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