The "cloud" is not just a buzzword—it's the way accounting is moving. Those who can successfully start and run a cloud accounting practice are at an enormous advantage. Have you ever thought about starting one but don’t know where to begin? Starting a business while juggling a full workload, whether you are in school or have a full-time job, may seem daunting. But for those ready and willing, here are a few key pointers to start a practice on the side and test it before jumping in.
Many accounting students and professionals are unaware of accounting careers outside of tax and audit, but there are many options, according to the AICPA. With today’s cloud accounting platforms, you are able to offer services in new and innovative ways. Many of the typical accounting data entry tasks are now automated, allowing you to be more creative in the accounting services you offer.
Where Do I Start?
Try finding a mentor willing to teach you about the industry—possibly an accounting professor or reach out to the entrepreneurship department at a local university. (The AICPA offers mentoring resources.) Use LinkedIn to search for others in this field and message them to see if they have an interest in answering your questions. A local CPA firm, which you can find through a state CPA society, or bookkeeping business may also be willing to offer you advice or guidance as well.
To understand the needs of small businesses, there are online resources available at the Small Business Association. Technology vendors you work with my have education resources on their websites; check them out. Find the right resource that will help you be successful. Put yourself out there and you are bound to find people who are willing to help you succeed. Many accounting software companies host a list of certified advisers on their website. Try connecting with one of them to see if they would be interested in having you work as a contractor. They are likely to have extra work and need a qualified person to help.
How Do You Attract Clients When You Have No Experience?
Try starting with friends and family that have their own small businesses. Working with people you know can eliminate the pressure while learning the business.
Once you have some experience under your belt, attract new clients with the story you have to tell. Having experience around the client collaboration process will help when describing your services to prospective clients.
A good website with search optimization and social media is a must. No one looks in the Yellow Pages anymore, so take the time to set up your website from the start. Call the webmaster of firms whose sites you admire and ask who designed and programmed their sites.
One of the best methods to get the word out is something you are familiar with: social media. Let your social network know about your accounting services and ask for referrals. Share posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. Create your own Facebook business page or LinkedIn business page to promote your practice.
Before you know it, you'll be up and running.
About the author:
Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP, CGMA, is the global vice president of education and enablement for Xero. In this role, she is responsible for developing and executing Xero’s worldwide education strategy with a focus on Xero University (XeroU) and Xero TV. You can find other blog posts by Amy on business topics and yoga at: http://thedrishtiqcpa.blogspot.com/.