It’s perhaps the dream of most accountants. That is, to hang up their own shingle and make a mark on society through the professional, ethical and value-adding potential role of being a public accountant.

GOING OUT ON YOUR OWN

People go out on their own at all ages and for a wide variety of reasons. Such reasons may include: being suddenly unemployed or moving away from corporate life; buying into your employer’s firm or even because you were a management accountant and while moonlighting on a few tax returns for family and friends, it got out of hand and made the decision for you.
The rationale and motive for going out on your own may vary. However, the strategy on how to do it is critical so that your big move is a happy and prosperous one with few regrets later in life.
I say this because the best-laid plans can still be dragged way off course by unforeseen circumstances, or take much longer to materialize than we often might think. Having started and operated more than fifteen businesses over as many years, I can testify that:

  • It always takes longer than you think, and…
  • You don’t know what you don’t know about what it takes to be successful until you are successful

The reality is that we often have to learn the hard way, despite the guidance and advice that is accessible from people such as I.

A ZERO BASE

A zero base can be an extremely liberating starting point because you can literally design the business exactly the way you want. The challenge for most people doing so is the limitations of their own belief system. Instead of taking full advantage of such a blessed opportunity to start with a blank slate and only take on clients that you truly want, most people take on all types of clientele varying in size, needs, and quality.
At first, this seems a reasonable thing to do, because there’s always time to take on one more client when you’re building up from a zero base. It’s not until much later that these words will ring true and you’ll discover how much fine-tuning and culling may be required to break through a glass ceiling on your turnover of even as little as $200K per annum.

MOONLIGHTING

Moonlighting is a great way to start gently. You can work full time at your job whilst you’re working part-time on your fortune.
Obviously, most public accountants will have a problem with you as their employee if you’re increasingly unavailable for work because you’re moonlighting. They’ll most likely frown on this if you’re not transparent and respectful regarding the disclosure of your ambitions to build your own practice.
This can also work in your favor if your employer is an accounting Principal or accountancy firm that believes in creating an internal succession plan through the attraction, retention, and development of quality employees. You may be able to negotiate some equity for no payment in exchange for bringing your feed into the firm and making them the firm’s clients.

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