Grow an accounting practice during the pandemic

How to Grow An Accounting Practice During the Pandemic

You might think a global pandemic and economic downturn as not the best time to grow an accounting practice. Many companies are struggling to stay afloat and cutting expenses left and right. One expense that is difficult to cut– or even worth bringing on– is the guidance and support of a good accountant.

These companies and small business owners are navigating an unstable market while trying to understand new tax regulations and relief programs. Accountants are in a unique position to help these business survive these challenging times. The right strategies can grow an accounting practice while providing a much-needed service to struggling businesses.

Remember, the accounting industry was doing quite well before the pandemic. That kind of growth can be reattained by firms willing to push forward. If you’re trying to grow an accounting practice during the pandemic, consider this advice.

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Revisit Your Accounts and Operations

As an accountant, this should come naturally. Analyze where you’re spending your resources and strike out anything non-essential. Trimming the fat in your budget will enable you to stay afloat in tough times and give you the budget to try out new revenue-producing activities.

You’ll also want to review your firm’s operations. Are things running smoothly? Is productivity reasonably high? The working environment is different now. You may need to revisit tools and processes to ensure the adequate infrastructure is in place.

Take what you can and invest it into whatever your company needs. That might mean an increased marketing budget for social media or a new cloud-based practice management solution. The market has been shaken up– this is the time to revamp and try new things.

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Reach Out To Help

The economy might be hurting, but that has only increased many companies’ need for a good accountant. Businesses large and small are struggling to navigate new tax regulations and relief options. Many have suffered severe revenue loss and need to fiscally reorganize to stay afloat. Overworked business owners who may have handled their finances and taxes themselves in the past will need extra help this year.

Get extremely well-versed in COVID-related concerns and opportunities. Be ready to answer clients’ questions. For which relief funds do they qualify? How many employees can they keep on? Where might they be able to cut costs? 

Reaching out to current and prospective clients right now is a must. Not only for your firm, but for the clients. You can grow an accounting practice while helping others keep the lights on through this crisis.

By the way, an accounting practice management solution like TPS Cloud Axis will simplify client mass mailing and emailing. You can also maintain client historical logs to keep client notes, invoices, emails, and workflow all in one place. Small conveniences like this can add up to a lot when it comes to systemizing and optimizing your firm’s client outreach process.

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Brush Up Your Skill Set

If you want to grow an accounting firm, you will have to grow along with it. Take advantage of the extra time at home to brush up on your skill set. Even if you’re an industry veteran, you need to continue learning new things if you want to stay sharp and relevant. Some ideas for enhancing your expertise include: 

Make sure you’re up to date on all things COVID-19. Your clients want to know you can successfully help them navigate this difficult situation. You want to be their first and only call when it comes to applying for new loans, debt forgiveness, freezing mortgages and so on.

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Invest in Marketing

Marketing may seem like a luxury right now, but in times like these it is essential. As noted above, many companies and small business owners are going to be in need of additional help this year. Getting your firm in front of them with the right messaging is key to growth. 

A good marketing strategy will enable you to reach new prospects while also staying front-of-mind for current or former clients. You can use any combination of digital marketing, print advertising, social media, or good ole fashioned email or direct mail. 

You might also want to update your website and add a specific page or section for COVID-related accounting news, concerns, and opportunities. This will showcase your firm’s expertise and ability to help with COVID-related issues.

Create valuable content that shows off your skills and demonstrates that you are a valuable asset. People need help right now, they just want to know you’re worth investing in before they take the leap.

In the end, effective marketing will always require a time and financial investment. Done well, marketing will be helpful to you clients while positioning your firm as the experts.

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Show Up For Your Clients

If you have loyal customers that can afford to keep you on, do not fail to recognize the significance of that. Times are tough, and while accounting tend to be more protected during budget cuts, any third party team is typically considered for the axe.

Good clients are rare, and they’re worth your time and attention. Just because they’re not the squeaky wheel right now doesn’t mean they don’t need some grease. Offer to hop on a Zoom call (yes, a Zoom call, not a phone call) so that you can have some face to face time with your clients. Be proactive about tracking down information or opportunities that might be helpful to them. Do your best to not miss a single deadline. Go the extra mile if you can afford it– whether that’s providing a little more than expected or sending a good old fashioned gift basket.

Remember, existing clients are more than current revenue– they can also be your top marketers. For many firms, a large chunk of revenue comes from referral business. Make sure your clients have no problem dropping your name when someone asks “hey, do you know of a good accountant?

Consider Payment Plans

If you have current or perspective clients who are struggling to make ends meet, consider providing more flexible payment options. We’re not saying to slash prices in the long-term but evaluate your client agreements, your own finances, and consider offering or restructuring payment plans if needed.

This is an important gesture to a client who is going through difficult times. It shows that you actually care if their business succeeds– it’s not only and always about the money. This will foster a sense of loyalty and turn these clients into raving (and possibly referring) fans.

Obviously, this is not a long term solution to keeping clients. Special arrangements should be the exception– never the rule. Doing the occcasional pro bono work is great, but don’t let it be by accident.

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Communication is Key

With face to face communications cut down to a bare minimum, it’s extra important to keep open channels between you, your clients, employees, and business partners. 

Make sure you don’t drop the ball and scare any of your customers with radio silence. Clients want to know you are the expert they need you to be, and while you don’t have ALL the answers, you do have ideas and the skills to keep their businesses safe. Communicating with your clients shows that you’re thinking about them and proactively working to help them survive this insane period we’re living through. 

Your team also needs to know that you’re there for them, and that they don’t need to be looking for employment elsewhere. Just imagine the nightmare of interviewing job candidates right now! They may even have fresh ideas that can help keep you profitable, so be open and honest with your team — remember that two heads are always better than one.

By the way, an accounting practice management solution like TPS Cloud Axis will simplify client mass mailing and emailing. You can also maintain client historical logs to keep client notes, invoices, emails, and workflow all in one place. Small conveniences like this can add up to a lot when it comes to systemizing and optimizing your firm’s client outreach process.

Can You Grow an Accounting Practice During the Pandemic?

In times of crisis there also tends to be opportunity. Accounting firms are in a unique position to sustain and even grow during the COVID-19 pandemic. Seeking out new client opportunities, trying out new tools and technology, investing in marketing, enhancing your own skill set are all great ways to grow an accounting practice during a pandemic.

Will your accounting firm be one of the companies to sink or swim during the pandemic? That’s mainly up to you.

Level up your accounting practice with TPS Cloud Axis– starting at $10/month.

Will COVID-19 Drive More Freelance Accounting? 1

Will COVID-19 Drive More Freelance Accounting?

Could COVID-19 inspire more freelance accounting?

Accounting has not been unaffected by the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis. At least 17,500 tax and accounting jobs have been lost, according to a report by CPA Trendlines. Many who kept their job suffered pay cuts, with one firm reporting 5% to 14% pay cuts for employees making less than $100,000 annually.

Accountants who lost their jobs or suffered pay cuts may find freelance accounting a viable option. Companies have also been adapting to remote work– and the tools, technology, and culture that enable it. The market for freelance accounting could grow as companies adjust to the new environment and expand their hiring options.

Freelance Accounting is Already a Thing

Freelance accounting is already more common than you might think. You can find freelance accountants on popular freelancing sites like Upwork and Fiverr from around the world, with an emphasis on the U.S. and Canada. Freelance accounting rates vary, with many charging between $100-250 per hour.

In a September 2020 study, Upwork found 36% of the U.S. workforce freelancing as a result of the pandemic. “COVID-19 pandemic drives an influx of young, highly skilled, first time freelancers seeking alternate career opportunities.” This resulted in $1.2 trillion in annual earnings from freelancers.  

The freelance economy has been growing for years as tools and technologies advanced and companies became more open-minded. The gig economy and rates of freelance accountants have been growing steadily for years. Upwork reported 88% of freelancers intend to continue working the gig economy in the future, regardless of the pandemic.

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Companies Are Evolving, Too

It’s not just workers who are leaning into the possibility of contracted work. In the same study by Upwork, 47% of hiring managers reported being “more likely to hire independent professionals since the COVID-19 crisis than they were in the future.” For companies facing revenue loss, reduced staff, and unprecedented levels of remote work, there are more advantages than disadvantages when it comes to hiring independent workers. 

The need to adapt to the new environment has forced companies into rethinking their hiring practices and investing in the necessary infrastructure. As Zoom calls and never “meeting” our colleagues become more common, so too will having freelance accountants as an extension of the team. 

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An Opportunity For Freelance Accountants

There was a time when every accountant felt they had to have an office so they could meet with their clients in person and deal with their information in a paper format. That has changed over the past years with the shift toward “paperless,” but this last year took the normalcy of remote work and virtual meetings to new heights.

If you’re considering freelance accounting, 2021 might be the year to try. While a damaged economy might seem like an unsavory time to strike out on your own, COVID-19 has brought opportunities along with its challenges.

As a result of the pandemic, business owners and individuals are navigating a new world of challenges. Some of these challenges are things accountants can help with, such as:

  • Understanding tax changes related to COVID-19 
  • Finding relief programs and determining eligibility 
  • Optimizing cash flow and identifying savings 
  • Filing taxes and managing paperwork 

While some will go to an accounting firm, small businesses and entrepreneurs may prefer the personal touch and more approachable rates of a freelance accountant. As the gig economy grows, so will the clientele of freelance accountants.

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The Right Time, Technologically

Imagine COVID-19 happening in the early 90s: there was a very different environment of technology and tools to support us. In 2020, we have the tools and technology we need to persist through a global pandemic. While disruptions were inevitable, plenty of work has carried on more or less as usual through the pandemic. 

Many jobs have been lost this year, but many opportunities have been forged through the hardships. Technology affords us the chance to explore our options and potentially form our own solutions to the problems we face. The tools we create help us be better at that, stay more organized and be more effective in our pursuits.

A Plan Built For Freelance Accounting

If you want to try out freelance accounting, consider TPS Cloud Axis for managing your practice. You can track your time and billing, manage client information, quickly produce reports, and optimize workflow. At only $10/month, our Entrepreneur plan is ideal for freelance accountants.