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The Unspoken Truths Behind Accounting Firm Success

Maanoj Shah
Posted by Maanoj Shah on Mar 8, 2024 1:02:50 PM

For accounting business owners, especially at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey, it might take time to understand what matters the most for their business and what truly will make a difference. Leaders tend to learn from their competitors or their predecessors in the business (if any), and hence, they have shifting priorities. Now, the challenge here is there is a lot to focus on within the business - the culture, the software to use, the approach to delivering services, and other nitty-gritty that no one talks about. Accounting is a niche field, and there is no doubt about it; however, it is not merely the technical knowledge that the team collectively has that will make a difference. For leaders, it is important to look beyond what meets the eye. There are always areas that need more of your attention.

When you thoroughly examine your and the team’s activities, you might realize that you are getting stuck with activities that aren’t supposed to be your priority. Just like this, there are many things that nobody tells the accounting firm owners about.

Let us delve deeper into some of the unconventional truths that you need to consider right away.

Don't layer overwork with the pretense of doing your best

Are you one of those firm owners who believe that overworking is the solution to all your accounting business woes? While a combination of hard and smart work lies at the core of making yours a successful business, overworking might be the incorrect approach to making that happen.

Here, mindset is key. While catering to deadlines and maintaining accuracy is essential, taking breaks, delegating tasks, and prioritizing self-care is also important. Additionally, with the ongoing tax season, leaders need to focus on preventing burnout and fostering clarity and creativity. These lead to effective results for both the teams and the clients. Running in the race is easy, but taking a pause and considering the situation is a skill.

Your client knows their company best

While this might seem to be a problem in plain sight, what truly matters is how you see it. Accounting firm owners tend to think of their clients as “lucky” if they have figured something out that the firm is struggling with. If you are from this school of thought, you might want to think again. Instead of holding on to resentment, you can integrate their insights and lessons positively into your practice.

Consider a few factors as to why your clients might have the knowledge you don’t - they could have been in the industry longer than you have, they could have learned from past mistakes, or have a teammate who has the necessary knowledge. As a firm leader, having a curious mindset is important. Understand the approach or strategy these clients have to achieve success. Innovative marketing strategy, partnerships, or unconventional business models - understand what is working for them. You should also consider discussing how they have been able to navigate the complexities of entrepreneurship successfully.

Your clients only care about what you can do for them

This might be controversial when it comes to entrepreneurship. Many accounting leaders tend to believe that their clients want to know about internal policies or what software they use, for example. Even if your clients are asking you about them, remember that they are just a negligible part of their concern. What they truly want to know is if you understand their pain point and what you will do to solve that.

When discussing the firm’s capabilities, accounting firm owners must take a client-oriented, problem-solving approach. Genuineness in showcasing commitment to solving clients’ problems can go a long way toward building trust, loyalty, and long-term partnerships.

It is always about the client experience and hardly about technical expertise

Here’s another myth that we would love to break for accounting firm owners. No, it is not the technical expertise that lets the clients choose their accounting service provider. It is the overall experience they have. This experience is beyond team efficiency and accuracy - clear communication, responsiveness, and customizable services are some things that make a lot of difference. As a firm leader, you should encourage your teams to build strong client relationships. They must be proactive in engaging with clients, provide regular updates and insights, and offer solutions to meet financial needs.

Curate a non-compromisable client experience - one that can truly differentiate your firm from the competitors. It is word of mouth that becomes your instrument in acquiring new clients.

Ignoring your problems will work against you

Accounting firm leaders have a problem to solve - the client’s problem. But their bigger problems might be more internal. When firm leaders continue to ignore them for a long time, it hinders growth and sustainability. Besides being extremely focused on operations, firm owners must dedicate a certain amount of time to implement strategic solutions and overcome internal obstacles. Just like for every other job, self-reflection is key, and proactive problem-solving plays a major role in fostering a people-friendly culture - the one where continuous improvement is prioritized.

People can tell you what you have to do, but YOU have to DO it

Procrastination is a common problem for most firm owners. Accounting leaders are often overwhelmed with the number of tasks they have on their plates, and it is only fair that they try to push the tasks as much as possible. As a leader, you know what needs to be done. Maybe, you have known about it for a while. While seeking guidance can be valuable, it is your action that is required to drive meaningful progress. Setting clear goals, developing actionable plans, and taking steps towards implementing them can be a great way to turn your overwhelming thoughts into action. A proactive mindset, taking responsibility, delegating tasks wherever needed, analyzing the present, and forecasting the future can help overcome procrastination and achieve business objectives.

Networking expands beyond industry events

Small accounting firm owners believe that attending accounting conferences and seminars is the gateway to great networking opportunities. While such events help gain invaluable insights and networks, it is not enough. Engaging with local business groups and community events online and offline, as well as online forums to expand the network beyond the accounting industry, are a must for entrepreneurs. Building connections with professionals from diverse backgrounds can open doors to new opportunities, referrals, and valuable insights that help the business grow. Growth should be a constant intent and networking a means.

Continuous learning is inevitable

Learning should never stop, and this notion is especially valid for the accounting industry. The accounting landscape is constantly evolving. There are new regulations, technology, and best practices that seem to change almost every day. For leaders and their teammates, staying ahead of the industry trend is important, and so is sharpening skills and staying relevant. Certification courses or self-paced online courses, regular learning sessions, etc, are some of the common ways to enable yourself and your teammates to grow continuously. Knowing the changing landscape and making adaptations accordingly are crucial to succeeding in the accounting business. 

Things Firm Owners Should Know - End Note

Running an accounting firm needs more than just being “technical experts”. A nuanced understanding of the different dynamics of the industry is important in being successful overall. From recognizing what works and what doesn’t for your firm to truly understanding what it is that the clients are truly looking for - firm leaders need to dig in much deeper. The technical skills, the soft skills, the sense of making businesses a success - a leader should be mindful of it all.

A proactive mindset, prioritizing client needs, and taking decisive action to overcome obstacles not only help sustain businesses but also help leaders thrive in an ever-evolving environment.

Sponsored Content: This article is generously brought to you by one of our valued sponsors. Their support enables us to continue delivering expert insights and the latest industry trends to our dedicated community of accounting professionals. 

Topics: Practice Growth, Professional Development


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