Small Firm
Small Firm

The benefits of owning a small firm

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In the tax and accounting space, there are often questions asked about owning a small firm versus working at a big one. I’m here to talk about the benefits of owning a small firm, and what decisions you are able to make as the owner that have lasting impacts on clients and employees.

Dictating the workflow precedent

When you own a small firm, you are able to strip old practices that were either already in place when you took over or ones you experienced from past jobs, to set your own precedent. This primarily includes removing outdated practices or tools, and implementing new ones. As technology advances and offerings continue to change, this is an opportunity to advance your practice.

Look into new technological tools that cut out compliance work, introduce the cloud to clients and employees, offer more services, including advisory, and more. By owning a small firm, you are able to fully dictate how it operates, and from the tech you use to the tools you promote, it is all up to you as the owner. It’s also essential to not let clients dictate the process. Small firms often fall into this problem because they think they have to conform to how their clients want to work. To avoid that, create a standardized process that you use consistently with clients. It may take a little training at first, but they will follow your process if you require them to.

Creating a fresh culture

Culture is a huge factor in any business, and if you own a small firm, it is important to prioritize it. If your employees are happy, efficiency and team morale is higher, and that radiates to clients as well. It is important to set a healthy precedent for working and remind employees why they got into the tax and accounting profession.

As the owner of the firm, it’s essential to set a good example, and with a small number of employees, it is easy to ensure everyone is happy, and feels seen and heard.

Designing around your passions and expertise

Often in tax and accounting, firms specialize their offerings and services to specific industries. Whether it be a personal passion, such as targeting veterinarians as clients because of your love for animals, or build your firm solely to focus on tax returns, it is up to you to define that niche. It is also important to be careful and not to limit yourself to just one niche. Diversify a bit across industries that operate in a similar fashion. But don’t try to be all things to all industries.

As the firm owner, it’s not only your decision to define that expertise, but also what type of clients you want to work with. You can set standards based on how you want to interact with clients, whether that is preferably in person leading you to set a geographical limit. Or, or if fully online is acceptable, you can service clients from anywhere.

Building relationships

With a smaller firm, it’s easier to build lasting relationships with employees and clients. You are able to more easily communicate, and stay on top of different client rosters and feedback. When you are working with the same people everyday, it’s easy to get bogged down with the workload, but in a smaller setting, it’s  easier to understand how everyone is feeling and make direct adjustments when needed to lift morale.

The small firm also helps serve clients because you are able to have coworkers step in if it’s ever needed to facilitate meetings, because everyone is well educated on the niche and firm offerings. The relationship also helps build trust and credibility throughout your firm, when clients know exactly who they are working with, and can trust everyone at the firm is dedicated to the same end goals.

Everyone in the tax and accounting industry will forge their own path. When considering that path, think of all the benefits that come with owning a small firm. It may not be for everyone, but for those interested in an intimate setting that offers specific content and the ability to set the precedent for the entire firm, it is worth looking into.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the CPA Practice Advisor.

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