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Debunking the Top Five Myths of Accounting Firm Growth

Tim Sines
Posted by Tim Sines on Jan 22, 2024 10:34:51 AM

If you looked at the way businesses are portrayed in popular media, you’d think growth was the end-all-be-all for anyone getting into any type of venture. Popular movies and TV shows portray entrepreneurs and business owners who sacrifice their entire lives working 16-hour days to take their company to the next level.

We don’t think there’s anything wrong with hard work, and if you have the desire and ability to make growing your accounting firm the main focus of your life, don’t let us stop you. But most of the accounting firms we talk to are after a better work-life balance – they want to have more time to spend with their family or pursue non-work passions without sacrificing the performance of their firm.

The truth is you don’t need to choose between personal time or accounting firm growth. Let us explain why while we clear up some misconceptions about what exactly growth is and isn’t.

Growth always means more money

The first thing anyone thinks about when it comes to growth is revenue. How much is your firm making, and how much has that number increased? The almighty dollar may be glorified in many parts of the business and “hustle culture” that has permeated the media, but there are lots of other ways to grow besides earning more revenue:

  • You can grow the number of different services you offer, or perhaps go deeper instead of wider by more thoroughly covering a specific kind of accounting work (bookkeeping, strategic business consulting, etc.)
  • You can grow the number of ways you train or develop the professionals you work with, a big factor in attracting and retaining talent these days.
  • You can grow your firm’s presence in the community by hosting or getting involved with charitable events or organizations in your local town or county

Growth will always be difficult and require long hours

It’s true that a focus on growth means you may have to put some other things on the back burner or start your workday a little earlier. But you shouldn’t feel like you have to sacrifice your personal life, health, or relationships just so that you can grow your firm. With the right technology – like accounting practice management software – and a bit of advanced planning, it’s possible to get your firm on the track for growth without feeling like you have to give up your life to do so.

Growth means pushing your team

This is another one of those outdated business philosophies that was much more prevalent in the 20th century than today. Even so, we sometimes hear about business owners who feel they need to constantly remind their team members to work hard and put in additional hours.

Even without mentioning the generational changes in attitudes towards work, this approach is not a sustainable one in the long term. It’s okay to ask for a little bit more from your team during certain time periods – like tax season – but most of the time, you should be striving to give your team a well-balanced workload, even if you are attempting to grow. If you can’t seem to achieve this balance, it’s a sign you need to re-examine your processes.

Growth means more clients

Most of the biggest firms you can think of work with a huge number of clients. The prevalence of technology and the internet makes it possible to handle accounting work for companies even if they aren’t in the same city, state, or country.

And while the relatively new openness of the accounting firm prospect pool means it’s easy to plan to constantly add new clients over time, it does not mean you should be targeting every company in the world. In fact, it’s very possible to grow your accounting firm without adding a huge number of new clients. You can upsell existing clients, change your pricing, or just selectively add clients through hand-picked references.

Growth means more space and equipment

For many years, an accounting firm’s physical office was one of the key parts of the business. The office used to be not only a central gathering place for members of the team, but also a message to the outside world about the state of the accounting firm and its values.

As we enter 2024, this is no longer always the case. Remote work among information workers has increased dramatically since 2020, thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic – though many experts agree it was already happening thanks to the development of technology. Even in today’s remote work era, we’ve spoken to accounting firms who rush to send their new employees’ equipment as soon as they’re hired: laptops, webcams, headsets, etc. Before you give team members a bunch of new things they may or may not need, try to spend some time thinking about what’s actually required for them to contribute successfully.

What growth really means for accounting firms in 2024

Hopefully, you now have a few ideas about how to grow your firm without exclusively chasing more revenue. Again, we aren’t saying there’s anything wrong with seeking out more revenue – in fact, there are many cases when you should be pursuing this option.

But if your firm has been around for a while, or you’ve gotten burnt out on the constant accounting firm sales cycle, think about these other options for growth so that you can achieve your goals without having to conform to what other people think is best for your firm.

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Topics: Practice Growth


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