Nowadays, accounting firms have more freedom surrounding the way in which they operate than ever before, and yet all too often, new business owners come along who simply stick to the old default design model; replicating the structures and practices of previous firms with no scope for change.

But, designing the ideal accounting firm, instead of a firm that simply does what it’s predecessors did, is simpler than you might think, especially when you follow the guidance outlined below:

Rome wasn’t built in a day

A good firm can take a long time to build, but this may be necessary for longevity and client satisfaction. Placing yourself under enormous strain as you try and form a business that’s profitable, promising clients quick turnovers that a new firm is not yet ready to handle, only serves to undermine their confidence in you when you’re unable to deliver what you’ve promised.

Set your team expectations and goals that they can be reasonably expected to achieve, instead of focusing on instant success and instant growth.

Client quality is essential

Never underestimate the importance of a carefully chosen client base for any accounting firm’s success. Formulate a series of criteria for assessing each client, taking into account such factors as their profitability, how they communicate with team members, and their reliability when it comes to delivering the required documents.

While you need clients, of course, you don’t need bad ones.

Know when to say ‘no’

Simply saying ‘yes’ to every potential new client that makes an inquiry, is the quickest way to build up a client base that you either can’t handle, or don’t really want to handle. As an accounting firm, you have every right to pick and choose who you deal with, and sometimes the best thing an accounting firm can do, whether in its infancy or not, is to turn down certain clients in favor of others.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help or share knowledge

There are plenty of opportunities for accounting professionals to get together and share their experiences, knowledge and ideas, and collectively, to come up with workable solutions.

While a certain competitiveness is undoubtedly necessary and healthy, by demonstrating a willingness to share your ideas and work towards solutions, you set yourself apart as a firm that’s here to stay.

Be your own boss

All accounting firms need their clients, but that doesn’t mean that they have to bow to their every request or whim, irrespective of their workload, resources, or capabilities. For example, if a company wants to hire you for payroll assistance, but they’re using different software to what you’re accustomed to, it’s not your responsibility to learn their system. In the same way, if a client isn’t willing or able to get the relevant documents to you on time, you shouldn’t have to change your schedule or compromise on your personal life to accommodate them.

The client isn’t always king.

Value rules the day

Making clients understand the value of what you’re doing for them, is essential for helping you charge fees that reflect the work you’ve put in. Problems can be priced individually, and for those that are more complex or time consuming, the price will naturally increase. Once your clients understand this, they will happily (hopefully!) pay up and not feel short-changed.

Don’t be afraid to think a little outside of the box when creating an accounting firm, and to remember that both the industry and the needs of your clients, are dynamic. This means that what worked for an accounting firm a decade ago, might not be the most effective work model today. Follow the guidance above to design an accounting firm that can thrive in today’s tech-conscious world, and deliver an outstanding service to high-quality clients.