Accountants with an entrepreneurial spirit often wonder if there is a specific degree needed to start an accounting firm of their own. The good news for those accountants is that there is technically no such degree requirement in order for them to open their own firm and begin serving clients on their own terms. Even so, accountants who wish to go into business for themselves will need to be highly skilled and prepared to incur a significant up-front expense to get started. Before deciding that a new accounting firm is the way to go, consider the typical requirements that will guide that firm toward a greater chance of success among its more established competitors in the marketplace.
First, Have the Right Educational Achievements
Though there is technically no degree required to open an accounting firm, it’s worth noting that only highly educated, certified accountants can legally and ethically serve the public. This means that a minimum of a four-year degree in accounting is required simply to practice the profession on behalf of private or business clients. If accountants wish to become certified as Certified Public Accountants, or CPAs, they will need to go one step further and pursue a Master of Accountancy degree. Most states require 150 credits of business and accounting education in order to simply qualify for this key exam.
Running a business is no small responsibility, either. Some accountants might want to refresh their business skills via a post-baccalaureate business certificate or an MBA degree program. By combining accounting and business administration skills, entrepreneurs will have a well-rounded series of skills that should help them guide the business to greater success over time.
Beyond Education: What Else Should Accountants Know?
A study of upstart accounting firms showed that the average new firm had to spend a minimum of $50,000 on business fees, training, marketing and advertising simply to bring in about $150,000 in business. This is a very steep up-front cost, and it might cause many accountants to reconsider their urge to strike out on their own. Because of these high up-front costs, most accounting professionals prefer to wait until they are well into their professional careers before starting an independent firm. By waiting until a bit later in their careers, accountants are likely to bring over quite a few of their own clients and reduce the up-front cost of acquiring new business. As a result, more of their fees and overall revenue will go to a profitable business instead of paying for the high cost of acquiring an all-new set of clients.
Marketing, Advertising, and Staffing Plans
An accounting firm rarely runs as a one-person operation. In most cases, accountants will at least want to hire a secretary to handle contacting clients, scheduling appointments, and doing essential administrative work while they handle the heavy responsibility of personal and corporate accounting services. Some firms may expand to include multiple professional accountants, so these costs must be taken into consideration as well.
A successful accounting firm also needs to have a marketing plan. This plan should consider social media outreach, search engine optimization, and traditional printed marketing materials, as well as advertising placement. With a strong plan, accounting firms will be able to reach new clients more effectively from the start.
Related Resource: Master of Science in Taxation Jobs
A Great Opportunity with High Costs
Starting a business is never easy, even if it might be the ideal situation for many accountants, according to the Houston Chronicle. Before getting started with the founding of a new firm, consider that there are many requirements to meet. Indeed, the degree needed to start an accounting firm is only one part of a larger planning process when wooing clients and starting something new.