Whether you’ve recently opened your own startup accounting firm or are just thinking about it, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with advice. Although it can seem like your startup firm doesn’t have much in common with older, more-established firms, you can learn a lot from their successes. After all, today’s startup is tomorrow’s leading enterprise. Take a look at what these firms have done to last through several generations.
Lesson 1: Keep an eye out for your competition
As a startup accounting firm, you may not think you’re competing against firms like a 100-year-old, 80-person regional powerhouse. But the truth is, technology has empowered a whole new kind of small firm, and larger firms are taking notice. Despite its lengthy tenure as a top firm in the area, Maner Costerisan saw competition aggressively recruiting some of their best staff. They needed to act quickly to make sure they were offering competitive benefits to retain their valuable employees. Competition can come out of nowhere, so you need to stay on top of trends in the profession.
“The economy seems like it’s really opened up over the last year or so. When I talk to the staff, they tell me they’re contacted by three to four headhunters a week offering them new opportunities. So anything we can do to improve their lifestyles helps us compete.”-
James McNeeley, CPA
Principal, Maner Costerisan
Lesson 2: Let technology fill the gaps
Not all well-established firms need to be large. McCarthy Rose & Mills, LLP has been going strong for 50 years with just 6 professionals, one support staff member and one para-professional. Instead of growing headcount, they’ve used technology to grow profits. By adding efficiencies, they can complete more tax returns despite increased regulatory complexity. Their customers are satisfied, and their staff worked nearly 10 percent fewer hours during busy season.
“Our firm is celebrating 50 years largely due to my father’s entrepreneurial nature and dedication to technology. Technology does many things for an accounting firm. It allows us to automat routine tasks such as data entry, deliver complex projects timely and at competitive rates and be effective while working remotely. All of this translates into efficiency.”
– Brett Mills, CPA
Partner, McCarthy, Rose & Mills, LLP
Lesson 3: Reinvent rather than re-create
When Jody Padar took over her firm, New Vision CPA Group, she wanted to expand her father’s 1040 business into uncharted territory. As she built her own client base, she adopted a more modern working style to fit her more tech-savvy clients. Since a startup accounting firm isn’t limited by “the way it’s always been done,” they can find great success in meeting emerging needs that haven’t made it to the radar of already-existing firms.
“The first thing my dad told me is go get your own clients. He wasn’t going to essentially retire and just let me work on his clients. Although I joined his firm, it was predominantly a 1040 firm because he was the director of taxes for a multinational company. So it was almost kind of a side 1040 business. But what happened was I started working with next generation clients who were my age and were used to working the way I was working. And we’ve grown over 10 to 15% every year.”
– Jody Padar, CPA
CEO & Principal, New Vision CPA Group
How can CCH Axcess help your firm prepare for the future? Attend a demonstration to see for yourself.