You are an accountant with years of experience having an accounting firm that gets by. You dream of growing it into a flourishing business. You have tried every trick under the sun to level-up your company from a struggling accounting firm to an exceptional one. Yet, you haven’t moved the needle much.
If this situation resonates with you, my friend, you're in the right place. You may be wondering what you are doing wrong. Probably nothing, probably everything. You can sit and conduct a detailed postmortem, but what you really need is vision to build the future.
In this article, we will provide you 7 tips that you can implement right away to grow your accounting firm. With each tip, you'll gain a new perspective on growth strategies. Ready to scale your business to heights? Let us start.
11 Tips to Grow An Accounting Firm
It is no secret that the accounting sector is a highly competitive one. In US, there are 46,000+ accounting firms providing both opportunities to people and competition to business. So, instead of mulling over what went wrong earlier, it is high time you understand the competitive nature of this field and implement the strategies that are still relevant in 2023.
Here are the best ways to go about it.
1. Do a SWOT analysis
Gaining an understanding of what you're really good at (Strengths), where you might need some improvement (Weaknesses), spotting opportunities in the market (Opportunities), and being aware of potential challenges (Threats) is what SWOT analysis is about. Conducting a SWOT analysis for your accounting firm gives your business a detailed check-up.
You can begin by identifying your strengths. This could be your experienced team, excellent client relationships, or specialized services. Then, look at your weaknesses - maybe it's outdated software or a lack of specific expertise. Now formulate plans to avoid your weaknesses and to take advantage of your strengths.
While you are creating a plan, leave room for opportunities and threats. Opportunities can be expanding into new markets or offering services that are in high demand. For instance, you could pivot from providing accounting services in India to startups that cater to the U.S. market.
And watch out for threats - things like new competitors or changes in regulations that could impact your business.
SWOT analysis can help you answer this crucial question - with the resources, software, and technology we possess, and the team we have, who can we better serve? Answering this question will help you find and attract your Ideal customer profile and cater to their needs ultimately leading to your firm’s growth.
2. Devise a growth strategy
Once you are done with your SWOT analysis, you will know what to expect in the business landscape. Use this as a jumping board to make plans for the future. Devising a growth strategy for your accounting firm should include details like how to expand your client base and what new sources of revenue you can tap into.
You can simply answer these three questions to understand your business and formulate a growth plan for your accounting firm.
- What sets your firm apart from your competitors? This could be specialized expertise, exceptional client service, a unique approach.
- Are there any opportunities to expand your services to new industries or offer more services to your current clients? If yes, how can you do it?
- Are there any emerging technologies or changing regulations that could impact your services or create new opportunities? Look at trends in the accounting industry. Check if these trends will help you position your firm to adapt and thrive in a dynamic market.
Finally, set clear goals and timelines for your growth strategy. If you do not achieve it within the time frame, you can always adjust it later.
3. Leverage technology
Technology isn't just a tool, it's a game-changer for accounting firms. By adopting the right technology, you can stand out and supercharge your services.
With tools like Microsoft Excel or more advanced software like Tableau, you can easily transform raw financial data into actionable insights. They're great for identifying trends and forecasting financial outcomes.
Further, For Cloud accounting, there are software like Xero. To automate your proposal-to-payment process, you can check out Cone’s payment integration software. And to practice management of the business and to streamline the work you can use software like Cone Practice Management Software.
4. Focus on marketing and branding
One piece of advice for you from our side - Leverage the power of social media. Sure, accounting firms have certain restrictions when it comes to advertising. But there’s no rule that states you cannot market your business by making yourself an online brand.
So to start off, you need to have a strong online presence to build credibility. Branding goes beyond just logos and colors - it's about creating a consistent image and reputation. Create a profile for your business and also get active on platforms like LinkedIn to share professional stories. Keep your uniqueness consistent in all your content, whether it's through emails or social media posts.
Also, a professional website is your digital business card. It's where potential clients are redirected to learn about your services, your team, and your approach. So this website needs to be convincing and catchy. You can create a well-crafted website using WordPress and Wix sites. Even if you are a beginner, you can use the drag-and-drop feature or upload free themes like Astra on these sites to build your site. Easy-to-navigate websites that speak volumes about your firm have a high potential to convert visitors into clients.
5. Hiring and retaining top talent
When it comes to building a stellar team for your accounting firm, you've got to do a couple of key things right. Platforms like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed are your go-to places for posting job openings. These platforms have extensive networks of professionals seeking new opportunities. You could also use referrals to tap into existing networks.
It's not just about bringing people in; you've got to keep them happy too. Of course, offering competitive salaries is a no-brainer to stay attractive in the job market. But it's not all about the money in the long run. As a growing accounting firm owner, you need to create chances for these employees to grow professionally. You can host training programs, certifications, and mentorships to guide them. A great way is to help your employees upskill by offering to pay for their education. In the long run, your investment will pay off.
Now, to make sure you're on the right track, it's smart to do those regular check-ins with your team. Employee surveys are gold mines for feedback. This way you'll increase the chances of retaining top talents and ensuring your accounting firm's long-term success.
6. Redefine your pricing strategy
Redefining your pricing strategy is a critical step for growing your accounting firm. First, consider adopting a value-based pricing approach. Instead of charging by the hour, base your fees on the value you provide to clients. This means you can charge more for specialized services or solving complex financial problems, which can significantly increase your revenue.
Another effective strategy is implementing a subscription model. Offer clients ongoing accounting services for a monthly or quarterly fee. The benefit of this practice is that you'll have a stable income stream for your firm and you'll build strong, long-term relationships with your clients.
Managing all these payments can be a bit overwhelming when you focus on improving and growing your accounting firm. That’s where softwares such as Cone’s proposal to payment software can lend a helping hand to help streamline pricing and do value based pricing easily.
7. Optimize internal processes and reassess operational efficiency
Optimizing internal processes is like fine-tuning the engine of a well-oiled machine. So, step one: evaluate how your firm operates. Hunt down any slow spots or any bottlenecks or inefficiencies in your workflow. Are there repetitive tasks that can be automated through software or systems? This isn't just about saving time – it's an essential move against errors, which, in accounting, is a big deal.
Continuously reassessing your operational efficiency is key to staying competitive in an industry that's always highly dynamic. You know, tech upgrades, new rules to follow, and clients who keep raising the bar. When you keep tabs on how things are running, you're ready to tackle any curveball that comes your way. In the grand scheme of things, this commitment isn't just a nice touch—it's a game-changer.
This ongoing commitment to improvement can lead to increased client satisfaction, better employee morale, and ultimately, sustainable growth for your accounting firm.
8. Offer free resources
The power of sharing free resources is not something to be taken for granted. Your firm can show off its expertise in accounting and finance by creating and sharing high-quality content such as insightful blog posts, webinars, and e-books. This can establish your firm as a thought leader and attract potential clients.
You can giveaway these resources on your firm's website, blog, social media platforms, email newsletters, and industry forums. These free resources can be offered to your ideal audience in return for their email address or number. Now, with this, you can create an email list or WhatsApp community to share insights and subtly promote your accounting firm.
If your firm specializes in certain areas of accounting or finance, focus your free resources on those niches. This helps you attract a more targeted audience interested in the specific services you excel in.
9. Collaborate with other professionals
As a single firm, you can do so much. To scale your business to new heights you need to Look for individuals or firms with a similar level of expertise, reputation, and professionalism. Over time you can build relationships with financial advisors, and other professionals who can refer clients to your firm for accounting services.
These professionals could be someone you meet in your real life or online. The best place to look for professionals online is job platforms such as LinkedIn, Indeed etc.,.There are several also several Facebook groups dedicated to accountants. From the platforms, reach out to potential collaborators with a personalized message. Explain your interest in collaboration, why you think it would be beneficial, and how it aligns with both parties' goals. Once there's mutual interest, set up a meeting or call to discuss the collaboration in detail.
If the collaboration is finalized, you can promote the collaboration across both parties' platforms. Utilize social media, email newsletters, websites, and any other relevant channels to maximize visibility. Finally, reflect by asking these questions -. What worked well? What could be improved? What more can you bring to the table? Use these insights to enhance future collaborations and make them even more successful.
10. Client referrals
One of the oldest methods in the handbook of growing a firm is client referrals. Referrals come from satisfied clients who have experienced the quality of your services firsthand. Positive experiences shared by your clients lead to word-of-mouth amplification. A single satisfied client can refer multiple potential clients, creating a ripple effect of new business opportunities.
Ultimately, Referral-based growth can also significantly reduce marketing costs. Instead of investing heavily in advertising and outreach, this lets you tap into your existing client base to generate new business.
Asking a client for referrals requires a thoughtful approach. Select a time when your client is satisfied with your services. Use a soft and not-so-pushy language. For instance, you could say, "We hope our accounting firm has provided you with a great service. So do refer us in case anyone is in need of accounting services". You can also offer a small incentive, such as a discount on their next service or a small gift, to show your appreciation for their referral efforts.
11. Invest in training and education
Every strategy we have discussed above talks about improving your business and process. But every firm thrives because of the people in it. Great people bring great success. So it is important to ensure your team is well-trained and up-to-date with the latest industry trends.
What can you do as an accounting firm owner to train your team? You can organize regular workshops and seminars on topics relevant to accounting, taxation, auditing, software usage, and other industry-specific subjects. Pair new employees with experienced team members who can mentor them. You can invest in taking a subscription for the whole office in an online learning platform like Udemy or Coursera. There are “n” number of ways in which you can help your team to upskill themselves.
A well-trained team stands out in a competitive market. Talented professionals are more likely to join and stay with a firm that invests in their growth.
Growing your accounting firm does not have to be hard as long as you’re smart about it and consistent in your efforts. If you put these strategies into action and stick with them, you're setting your accounting firm up for success. Over time, you can turn your accounting firm into a more prominent business. In short, consistency is key. Test the waters, see what clicks for your firm, and then gloat in your accounting firm’s success!