As a qualified Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Enrolled Agent (EA), or tax professional, you might be looking for ways to expand your professional possibilities. During a time when remote work opportunities are high, starting your own CPA firm from home could be an appealing choice.
Becoming a self-employed CPA, EA or tax professional allows you the freedom and flexibility to design a firm built around your own skills and values. This option provides an alternative for those who prefer to explore entrepreneurship while building a loyal base of potential clients.
The question remains:how do you start an accounting firm from the ground up?
In this post, we’ll explore five essential components that you must consider when starting your CPA, EA, or tax business from home.
Essential Steps to Starting Your Business
If you’re ready to begin the journey of starting your own business, you may have already weighed the pros and cons of being on your own versus partnering with an existing firm.
Ideally, the best time to forge your own path is after you’ve gained some previous experience working with an established firm or partner.
Once you’ve gathered valuable industry experience, you’ll be better equipped to launch a new CPA, EA or tax business. With the flexibility of modern online business models, you can often get up and running as quickly as you’d like to.
As you begin to provide accounting services, here are the essential elements of having your own accounting firm that you can’t afford to miss.
Essential 1: Perform Diligent Research on Accounting Services
Market research is one of the most critical building blocks of your new business. Before you ever “open the doors” to your own firm (whether physically or virtually), you must make sure that you have enough data to justify your business model and to reach your target market effectively.
It’s never too early to start performing research. Create a thorough list of questions to explore, which can include topics like:
- What current needs does my ideal client have?
- What are similar firms or competitors offering?
- What is a standard or realistic price point for some of the core services?
- Are there any customer pain points that I can immediately solve?
- What is the unique selling point (USP) of my business?
Performing adequate research ensures that you won’t be caught off guard by factors like client expectations or competitor offerings. When you launch, it’s important to know where your business stands and how you offer something exclusive or unique.
Essential 2: Obtain the Right Licenses
Now that you’re thinking of being in business for yourself, you must factor in some of the certifications, licenses, business insurance, or other credentials that an established firm or legal entity already has.
Before you start offering your own services, you may need to obtain these from an ethical standpoint, and to abide by existing business law.
For example, you could file as a sole proprietorship or an LLC (Limited Liability Company). These statuses affect how you file and pay taxes on money earned by the business. While there are other options (including corporations and partnerships), the status of sole proprietor or LLC is fairly standard when you’re first getting started.
You must also check with your county, city, and state to obtain any business licenses or permits. The administrative turnaround time for completing and processing these documents could take a few weeks, so leave enough time to tie up loose ends prior to booking the first client for your accounting business.
Essential 3: Complete Your Business Planning
Regardless of your industry or area of expertise, starting a new accounting practice always requires a strategic plan. A thoughtful, well-written, and comprehensive business plan should answer important questions about the foundation and growth plan of your new venture.
In cases in which you want to pursue a business loan or other financing, stakeholders may carefully review your plan before making a final decision. Consider including the following elements in your startup plan.
- The mission, purpose, or vision of your new venture
- Relevant market research to support the creation of your CPA, EA or tax business
- Your personalized approach to sales and marketing tactics
- Strategic growth goals
- Startup costs (and how you plan to fund them)
- Revenue objectives and cash management
- Staff or employee planning
- Future financial goals and projections (where you hope to be)
As your business grows, you may need to re-evaluate or rewrite certain aspects of your business structure. This is a normal part of the growth process, and it allows you to maintain transparency and integrity as you run your own accounting business.
Essential 4: A Marketing Plan to Attract New Clients
After your business is officially open, you must have a way to reach a new client base. If you’re coming from an existing firm, it’s critical that you honor any non-compete or binding agreements regarding client privilege.
This means that you may not be able to bring existing clients with you if they were first customers of your previous firm.
Since you’ll likely be starting with a small client base, consider how you want to market your services and spread the word to existing business contacts. You might plan to have a robust social media presence, use email marketing, or even rely on basic word-of-mouth referrals.
As you gather information from new potential customers (likely through your website), have a plan in place for processing and protecting that data.
Essential 5: Evaluate New Benchmarks and KPIs
With the creation of your business plan, you may have already highlighted some of the key goals and objectives of your new business. Measurable benchmarks provide the opportunity to measure the performance of your business at key points along the journey to growth.
These goals and objectives are based on your preferences, but they should always be very specific. For example, you might aim to have 20 stable clients after the first quarter, or you could aim to hit a set amount in profits within the first year.
Whatever these metrics might look like, carefully record them and evaluate at set intervals. If you have an integrated customer platform, booking tool, or CRM, pulling data from these sources is the best way to gather reliable, accurate data.
Advantages of Starting Your New CPA Practice From Home
Running your own CPA, EA or tax firm can have plenty of perks, especially if self-employment is your preferred way of doing business. Experiences will vary from person to person, but here are just a few benefits you might enjoy when working for your own business.
- Personal autonomy. If you enjoy running the show or controlling your own schedule, then starting an independent CPA firm could be a great match. You’ll have plenty of leeway when it comes to operations, major decisions, and which client projects to tackle first. The freedom allows you to grow and shape your business in whatever style suits you best.
- Freedom to choose clients. At first, you may be eager to accept most new clients who approach you for CPA or tax work. After your base is stronger, however, you may be able to specialize in those projects you truly enjoy. Independent CPAs and EAs have the ability to turn away clients that aren’t the best fit in exchange for projects that they want to prioritize.
- Building strong relationships. When it’s your name on the business, the responsibility to nurture strong client and community relationships is on you. This is why many professionals choose to branch out and start their own firms. As the owner, you get to decide how big (or small) you want your firm to be in a way that allows you form strong internal and external business relationships.
Build Your Own Practice the Right Way
As you build your own CPA, EA or tax business from home, you need the right tools and software. Choosing automation for example, allows you to spend more time on the plans and activities that matter most when growing your new business.
A platform like CountingWorks can handle some of the most heavy tasks (like website building and marketing automation) for you. It becomes as simple as setting your goals, building your business vision, and gaining clients for life.
When you’re ready to grow your accounting firm or small business, get started with CountingWorks PRO.