No matter the size, all businesses have their ups and downs. For small accounting firm owners, feeling as though your business is in a rut is a uniquely personal and challenging experience. However, recognizing that you have issues to fix is the first step to taking back your business and reemerging stronger than ever.
Here, we take a look at three common challenges small accounting firms owners experience and offer tips to get your business back on track.
1. Your growth has stalled.
If you feel like your business is losing steam, it might be time to revisit your revenue goals. An important piece of this effort is understanding how your clients affect your bottom line. By taking a critical look at your client base and your operations—including what’s working and what isn’t—you can create a big-picture strategy that better drives your firm’s profitability and success.
Nina Tross knows what it’s like to build a successful firm on her own. She now offers valuable advice to those starting their own practice in her role as Executive Director of the National Society of Tax Professionals (NSTP).
“Get out of the office, visit current clients and let them know you are looking to build your business,” says Nina. “Create relationships with local networking groups and others in your industry. Look for more opportunities to have a personal touch with potential clients. Business owners are not relying 100% on virtual outreach and networking as it can get overwhelming. Many small business owners are still looking for that local person who knows the area and understands the culture.”
2. You’re still relying on manual processes.
With technology constantly changing, we all feel a bit technologically challenged every now and again. That said, your small accounting firm is at a huge disadvantage if you aren’t using the latest in tax software to keep your business operating smoothly. With today’s technology, there are many ways small firms with limited resources can use software to drive efficiencies.
“Technology is essential in streamlining processes and tracking progress,” says Nina. “Knowing your clients shows respect and being able to access a file with notes and information is invaluable.”
Look for tax software designed for small firms to automate manual tasks, increase accuracy, and optimize your tax workflow so you can free up time to offer more value-added services to your clients. And with secure cloud-based options, you can collaborate with clients and staff from anywhere—a feature that’s increasingly expected.
3. You’re giving away tax advice for free.
Your knowledge is unique, so position yourself as a trusted partner, not just a once-a-year tax return provider. Many forward-looking firms are eliminating billable hours and moving to value pricing or an advisory-based approach as it deepens the client relationship and lays out a clear scope of engagement throughout the year.
“Assess your strengths to determine if you have the interest and the ability to move to advisory services,” says Nina. “If the strength of your firm is in offering traditional tax preparation services, maybe couple that with bookkeeping services to provide year-round income.”
A successful year-round relationship reinforces that you are not just a transactional expense, but a committed partner who supports your clients beyond tax season. And that means more meaningful and sustainable client relationships that will not only pull your business out of rut but enable it to thrive long-term.
Is your firm in top shape? Try out our Small Firms Health Checklist to see if your firm may need a checkup.
Heather Walker is Head of Business Integration for the Tax & Accounting Professionals segment. She is passionate about supporting small firms on their growth journey and showcasing the many ways innovative tax solutions can transform business operations. Follow her Small Talk with Heather Walker blog series, where she explores best practices, helpful tips, and personal stories tailored specifically to the small firm.