Creating your accounting firm is the first step in starting your business. You will need to take many decisions to develop the firm's activity. The basic step every company needs to take is defining its goals and strategy to achieve them. In the case of an accounting firm, your development will be axed around two essential points: firstly, expanding your clientele by developing your visibility, marketing, communications tactics, and your proposed services. Secondly, developing a strong sales forces, you will achieve this through qualitative recruitment and training.
Think strategy first
There exist various types of accountants, with different expectations concerning their business. Some desire to take on a business leader's career at the head of a large accounting firm, while others will prefer to run their own local business. Some will favor horizontal development and growth, buying a relatively recent firm that is already set up with a few years of experience. Others will prefer to expand their own business through organic growth.
Building a service offering is a key part of the strategic orientation of a firm. Depending on the area in which it operates, and the firm's objectives, the firm can choose to propose a generalist offer (this is often the case in the early development stages of an accounting firm) or to specialize in various other economic sectors. Indeed, you will then need to align your positioning with your commercial policy and the allocation of the firm's resources.
Develop your clientele
In the case of an ex-nihilo creation, an accountant must quickly generate a turnover. Outsourcing small clients for large firms will allow you to gain experience.
At the same time, you will need to build your portfolio and define your unique selling proposition. Yet, before attempting to acquire any customers you will need to define who you want to work for.
Opt for proximity marketing
Today's young accountants are no strangers to marketing. An up-to-date, well-referenced website, enriched with a professional blog is now one of the fundamentals of communicating about your activity, boosting your visibility, and acquiring new clients. To stand out from the competition, it is necessary to develop real proximity marketing and to work on your personal branding.
This requires you to develop your network. It is now essential to use social networks to let people know about your activity and your services. Moreover, the constant publication of information and opinions concerning your activity and results is a good way to develop notoriety and credibility.
It is also necessary to ensure an active presence wherever potential clients may come to seek information and meet professionals. Joining associations and professional unions can be a good opportunity to develop your portfolio. However, this involves actively participating in discussions, round tables, etc. Speaking on technical subjects, in the form of a short formal presentation, is also highly appreciated.
Encourage word of mouth
Business owners do not choose an accountant on a whim. They often base their choice on recommendations from those whom they trust. Your natural influencers are your first customers. In accounting, word of mouth is essential to grow your business and acquire new customers.
In fact, word of mouth gives powerful leverage for development. To benefit from it, you need customers who are satisfied enough with your services to recommend you to their professional network. This should encourage you, beyond the quality of your proposed service, to develop good communication and a quality relationship with your customers.
Customers aren't the only influencers. Bankers, insurers, lawyers, notaries, are the trusted interlocutors of their clients, and their advice will be listened to. All the more reason to make yourself known and meet them.
Hiring talented individuals is an essential step in developing your accounting firm. A one-man business can take care of 30 to 40 clients who will allow him to ensure a decent income. Once the work processes have been optimized by the automation of certain tasks and the establishment of a collaborative portal with customers, you will dispose of more time to deal with recruiting new team members.
The profile of the first employee (s) must fit your development strategy and values. Technical competence is essential to allow you to delegate day-to-day work. However, the soft skills of the employee and the trust you can place in them are also important.
In addition, their personal goals must align with the vision of your company; if the proposed work becomes repetitive or not challenging enough, there is a great risk of seeing those employees quickly move to exercise their skills in another accounting firm.
From management professional to accomplished manager, there is often a difficult threshold to cross. But it is also the only way to move from self-generating regular income to building value, what encourages them to invest in the growth of their accounting firm.