Contrary to popular belief, accounting is much more than crunching numbers and bookkeeping. It actually serves an important function in any organization. If you're not lucky enough to work for an established auditing firm or big financial organization, you can still manage a successful accounting career. You can do it by offering your services to millions of potential customers who might have difficulties telling the difference between balance brought forward and balance brought down.
Successful accountants exhibit specific characteristics such as hunger for growth as well as talent, time, and relationship management skills, among others. Here are some of the highly recommended practices of those who have seen success in the field.
Whether you are running a small accounting firm or consultancy service, you must be a good manager and leader. For firms, ensure that a clear corporate governance structure is in place for proper and fast decision-making. Be guided by a strategic plan, understand revenue streams, attract and retain talent (individuals that share the company’s mission and vision) and think of the company’s best interests. It doesn’t matter whether it's a solo practice—if leadership and management skills are lacking, you're going to find it difficult to sustain the business.
A Focus on Growth
Any serious business should be guided and motivated by the desire to grow. Most accounting companies are top-line driven. They have to retain current businesses and win some more. Attracting clients is the trickiest part, especially for startups, but it is not impossible. Some firms only manage three or four clients and can make it to the following month without paying lenders a visit to remain afloat. Keep hunting for customers, market your services, and never stop dreaming.
Understanding of Service Worth
The pricing of services is one of the biggest challenges that most accountants face, since there are no fixed rates for various services. Assuming you are a qualified CPA, plus a bachelors or associate degree to boot, how much do you think your qualifications are worth? Throw in your years of experience in the industry, think about some of your former or current clients, and then find out what the market leaders charge for similar services. Doing the above might not give you an accurate figure, but will help you understand what you're worth and allow you to charge the right prices.
Time Management Skills
This is especially important if you are an independent consultant or a freelancer with no one to report to. Time is the most important resource you have, and even though it doesn’t cost a dime, wasting it can be costly. Prioritize your activities and focus them towards achieving high-priority aspects of the business. If it is a partnership, each partner must be accountable for all core business operations. For those working from home, let family understand your schedule; separate office hours from family to avoid distractions.
Finally, successful accountants never stop learning. Is there a new auditing application you think can help improve your work? Acquire it to make your processes more efficient. Beef up your portfolio, attract more better-paying clients, and smile all the way to the bank.