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Re: I’m Joe “Accountant CPA” looking to start my own practice or partnership with som

Hello Joe,
I am also new to this forum – I saw your message and thought I could give you a little advice. I am not a tax agent however I have many years of business experience (management accounting) and have seen many businesses succeed and fail.

Step 1 Get the right tools
You tax licence is the start but then you need to invest in some systems so that you are “client ready” – accounting systems, tax reference books etc. All of this will be part of your start-up costs which I am sure you have already added up.

A franchise can help you with this but there is a cost involved and generally the more you require from the franchise the more you pay e.g Accounting software $1, Customer communication software $1, Document control software $1 the dollars will start to add up and you need to be careful not to lock your business into the franchise as you may lose some control/flexibility.

Step 2 Get Clients
Standing on a corner and yelling out your business services can be as effective as any new e-advertising process unless you have a clear market plan that targets your clients and not only puts you business card into their wallet but your bum into their office for a formal meeting. Being an accountant gives you some credibility as a profession so people will want to hear what you say but you have to make the sale – Is this your skill set or are you just an Accountant? Some accountants are both but if you are not then get yourself a partner (or employee) who is. Again a franchise can help with advertising etc but you have to be careful with costs and the franchise may get you to a meeting but you still have to get a service agreement signed. Everyone is targeting SME’s so it will be a tough market.

Step 3 Always be at work
Holidays are for employees – especially in the first years of your business.

If you are already working in a practice I would recommend that you speak to your boss about becoming a partner in their practice. If you don’t like the people you are working with then offer to set up a satellite practice on the other side of town (or somewhere else). This will give you some of the benefits of a franchise but at a lower cost. You will need to put up some equity but that will work in your favour as you get established.

If you find someone willing to go into partnership with you make sure they have the same aspirations as you yet have different skill sets – you are a small business after all and you will need to diversify your work practices amongst 2 people – you both cant be the boss of everything!

If you still want to go down the franchise path then an established one may be a better option as they will have better brand recognition and their systems should be tested and efficient. Just keep an eye out for the termination clause and franchise fee payments process as you don’t want to be locked in. Some franchises take a % of your fees which is ok as you get a return on your payment in the form of advertising but what if you are getting all your clients due to your good work not via the franchise name – then you need may want to make a break.

Good luck,

Marco CP