Tips for Starting Your Own CPA Firm

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If you’re progressing in your tax preparation career, and you’ve decided it’s time to open the doors of your own firm, then you’re ready to venture into something new, exciting, and profitable. Whether you want to start a CPA firm for extra income, or you want to turn it into a full-time job, here are three tips you need in your arsenal.

1. Don’t quit your day job

Not yet at least. Chances are you’ve daydreamed about sending an all-office email with the subject line, “SEE YA NEVER,” then hitting send and moon-walking out the doors never to be seen again. Tempting as it may sound, don’t hit that send button or bust a move just yet.

If you want to give yourself the best possible chance of succeeding, start with a side hustle. Beginning with a part-time practice will give you a risk-free trial period in which you’ll the have comfort of failing without jeopardizing too much. Keeping your full time job will allow you to see if starting a CPA firm is really the right career choice.

2. Getting clients

Usually “I know a guy who knows a guy,” isn’t the most reliable source of information. It tends to lead to sketchy business deals that turn sour and Tom Cruise surviving unrealistic jumps off rooftops to save the day just in the nick of time. That’s not the case here. You want clients? Ask your friends. Then your friends’ friends. Go down the chain and take advantage of the network you have around you.

Find out who could use your services among your peers. Entrepreneurs? Small business owners? Non-profits? For guidance, check out this list of 71 Places to Find New Accounting Clients. It’s an exhaustive list, but the idea is that there is no limit on where you can find new clients. Cast your net far and wide.

3. Make yourself irreplaceable

Now imagine you ordered some spaghetti at a restaurant. Ten minutes later, the server returns with a disassembled disaster. All the ingredients are there, but the noodles, sauce, and meatballs are each on separate plates. You ask the waiter what gives. He says you paid for the food, but you didn’t ask him to put it together for you.

It sounds ridiculous, but I’ve seen countless CPAs do the exact same thing to their clients. They regurgitate data without piecing it together for them. Put that sauce on the spaghetti. The key to a strong CPA firm is to go above and beyond the data.

Professional tax software puts you ahead of the competition. You can file clients’ returns quickly and error-free or give them on-the-spot feedback. This allows you to consistently provide them seamless, and professional feedback. That level of service deepens your relationship with clients and establishes you as a true professional.

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4. Assemble the right team

Hiring high-quality employees is a crucial piece of the process. Give yourself time to find the best tax professionals for your firm. They’ll be the face of your business, and their interactions with clients can make or break your company. Create a detailed interview and vetting process, meet with multiple applicants sourced from trustworthy job listing sites, and take your time.

If starting a CPA firm sounds like something you want to pursue, follow that calling. The exciting life you’ve always wanted awaits.

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