How to found a successful accountancy set up

August 18, 2015

If you’re thinking of starting your own accountancy practice, here are Digita’s managing director Andrew Flanagan’s tips for making your new business a successful one.

Compliance is key

Firstly, your new business must comply with all the rules and regulations required for running an accountancy practice, including being fully licensed to take on this kind of work.

ACCA’s Global Practicing Regulations 2003 require any member who is a partner in an accountancy practice to hold an ACCA practicing certificate.

ACCA’s definition of public practice work extends beyond audit and other regulated work, to incorporate all types of services generally associated with an accountancy practice (excluding bookkeeping).

Similarly, ICAEW members are required to have a Practicing Certificate in order to sign audit reports. You also need to fully understand and comply with other industry standard guidelines and legal requirements such as data protection and anti-money laundering regulations.

Preparation and Research

Not too long ago, you could build a practice from scratch and have a reasonable expectation that work would start to come in soon after opening.

However, with today’s unsteady climate, you must start getting to grips with unknowns that may lie ahead. A good approach is to talk to current practice owners to find out what particular challenges they are facing and how they overcome them.

Build up a network

Networks deliver three unique advantages: Private information, access to diverse skills sets, and the power of knowledge.

As you filter through all the advice and various relationships you will be establishing, or have already established, it is important that you position yourself with industry-specific advisors who will help you with the many crucial decisions you will be making for your start-up endeavour.

Have a business plan

Preparing a business plan forces you to review everything at once: Your value proposition, marketing assumptions, operational plan, financial plan and staffing plan.

You’ll end up noticing links you otherwise would have missed. And of course, a well-written plan which includes a mission statement is great for attracting new business.

Also, the written record of your goals joined with a track record of achievement, drives a message that you understand your practice and can deliver the results you promise.

Establish practice goals
Start by distinguishing your long-term goals from your short-term ones.

Your long-term goals should have a timeline of about three to five years. They should articulate your mission statement, reflecting the reason your practice was founded.

Once you’ve figured out what you want in the long-term, you need to figure out how to get there. An easy way to think about your short-term objectives for accomplishing your long-term goals is to ‘make them S.M.A.R.T’:

Specific.  In order to work, objectives need to be concrete and highly detailed.

Measurable. Put a figure or value, such as a monetary amount or percentage, to the objective.

Action-oriented. Set out which actions need to be taken by which people and when.

Realistic. Make goals challenging, but consider your resources so you can actually achieve them reasonably.

Time specific. Set a deadline to keep things on track.

Put together a technology plan

Take your time and put together a technology plan that will help you deliver on your business plan over the next five to ten years.

There are many solutions for practices out there, but select the wrong one and you could find it tougher to move in the future when you have more employees trained and more clients to service.

Keeping up with all this technology and the constant changes can be a bit overwhelming when your main job is to look after your customers but getting the right technology in place really can help reduce costs and save you lots of time.

So, my final piece of advice would be to find a technology partner who cares about helping you and wants to be a part of making your practice a success in the long-term.



Hayley Pride

PR Coordinator
Thomson Reuters

58-64 City Road, London EC1Y 2AL

Direct Dial: +44 (0)20 75427185

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