An entrepreneurial accountant is not an oxymoron, and many more accountants are considering this path as they become more and more unhappy with public and corporate accounting. But what is involved in setting up your firm?
The first step is to think through what your firm should look like. Why do you want to start your own? Always start with your why and base everything else from that starting point. What service offerings do you want to focus on? Do you want to stick with tax, or do you want to focus on advisory? What niche are you most passionate about? Pick options that you have a vested interest in and that you are inspired to work with. What technologies are you going to use to serve your clients? Each industry has unique processes and opportunities to help streamline and improve with technology. Are you going to only work with local clients, or are you making your firm more virtual so you can serve a larger populace?
Now that you created the big picture for your firm take time to learn from others that have gone down this journey. Reach out to other entrepreneurial accountants and find out what worked for them and why. Ask what did not work, so you can learn from mistakes that have already been made. Ask what they have enjoyed about going out on their own. See how even though the journey is a huge learning curve full of obstacles, in the end, it is worth it to build something to call your own.
Taking the leap from practitioner to an entrepreneur is more than just going out on your own. The skill sets needed for entrepreneurship are different from the skills to serve clients. Entrepreneurs are leaders and innovators. They make things happen. It is one thing to have ideas, and it is another to make those ideas a reality. In the course of making ideas a reality, they have to be ready to sustain difficult circumstances that may come up. An entrepreneur is persistent towards progression and innovation, where the work is something to make better continually. Entrepreneurship becomes a mindset, a way of life, a way to continue figuring out innovative ways to solve new and intriguing problems.
What are some of these other skills needed?
- Sales – As much as accountants seem to be adverse to selling, who else is going to sell your services to clients?
- Marketing – how do you clients find you? How to share the solutions you are offering? Does the ideal demographic know of your existence?
- Customer success – building and nurturing client relationships for the long-term
- Administration – organizing your internal processes to capitalize on efficiencies that give you more time
- Technology – researching and understand the technology needs for your clients, and within your firm
- Talent management – building out your recruiting process, how you will hire, terminate, and build your team?
At some point, you will have to do all of these things, at least until you can hire or outsource someone else to do them for you. Even then, it is essential to know how these processes work and what effect they have on your business.
As mentioned earlier, the drive to innovate is another skill needed. As an entrepreneur, you should always be asking, “how can this be better?” and then make it happen. Be mindful that you are not re-creating the wheel. Allow me to repeat that: Avoid re-creating the wheel. When you are engrossed in constantly re-inventing and taking on new projects, we can lose sight of what has and is happening around us. Therefore, it is important to build out a solid foundation of resources behind you. Network with other innovators, see what questions or opportunities they have already solved for – and in turn, you may have solutions to offer them.
Starting your firm provides you with a blank canvas that you can build whatever you want. It is more than merely hanging up an open sign and hoping for the best. Understanding the desire to create something new is what helped launch the Nucleus program. What better way to find your path, than with a safety net, back-office support, and mentorship of those that have been through this journey several times.