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For those that chose to go it alone....

TreadStoneTreadStone Feels At HomeAAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 280
Hi all, this is one for all those MIP's who have been going a few years now. A bit of background:

I've been a licenced MIP for several years now with only a handful of clients as I'm also a full time employee. This is purely by choice as I haven't actively looked for additional clients as I mainly act for friends or friends of friends. However, it's got to the point in my day job where I'm EXTREMELY frustrated with the way the practice is managed by our elderly principal and his continuous procrastination. Let's just say I'm ready to go solo - for good. There is a strong chance of a continuity agreement but that always seems to be next year.

So, with this in mind, for those of you who have done something similar, how long did it take you to feel "established" ? By that, I mean, content with client numbers and workload, work to family/leisure time ratio and generally feel as though you've achieved a sustainable level ? I'm under no illusions as to the task that could be in front of me but after more than 25 years hearing "this time next year....." I'm almost at breaking point.

Interested to hear any views and opinions folks.



  • burgburg Experienced Mentor GloucesterModerator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,441
    It depends.

    I left at the drop of a hat as I had enough and opportunities came along. Those opportunities were just additional bookkeeping to fill my time and pay some bills. I sorted a suitable overdraft and left on relatively good terms and always understood I could return. Although that was not really an option for me.

    I pushed hard for new clients and to make change to accountancy locally. Nothing major but just a lack of services I saw to certain client groups. I just had to market it and then deliver.

    By the end of year 1 I think I had gone from 15-20 clients to about 80. The problem is so much of the money is for the future i.e. new start ups with no accounts for a year. This later led to our current practice model of monthly subscriptions.

    Anyway we decided that we would live frugally until we were on our feet. We had 3 young children at that time and basically used benefits to support us.

    Alot of that early growth was to cheap looking back however with the scenario we were in and needing the money it still makes a degree of sense. No we still had debts from when I had re-trained as an accountant taking a huge salary drop.

    I would say we were comfortably affording things but not really clearing those debts by the time I had left employment for around 2 1/2 years. I'm now approaching 6/12 years since and life is very comfortable. We have a practice with 1 staff member and 1 subcontract assistant. We are now looking to recruit another member of staff. The practice is now at a level of about 250 clients but we achieve good growth (average 10 new enquiries per month).
    Personally we now have lovely 5 bed detached house and no debts (apart from a mortgage) and lovely new cars. I'm not over the top with any of it and we are still careful with money appreciating where we came from and how hard we had to work to get to where we are. However at 30 years old I have plenty of years to develop things further and enjoy life confortably.

    We have found our niche and a way to market it that works. People can't tell you what that niche should be you need to see it and believe it and make it work. If you get it right then the practice will grow. Start by identifying what is wrong in your current practice and how you believe clients are not served correctly. Start by deciding how you would put that right and find a way to market it. We don't do anything hugely innovative we just spotted a problem and decided how we would fix it and tried to sell it. For us it works.

    Best of luck

  • Model500Model500 Settling In Nicely CheshireRegistered Posts: 42
    Well done. Sounds like you're on the right track.
    I'm a bit older than you and my practice is embryonic as I got made redundant (unfortunately after a short period in post) and at the moment I'm balancing working for a friends business and getting my practice up and running. At the moment it's hard going but I'm hoping once the January tax returns are out of the way I'll be able to start focussing on my marketing.
  • NeillawNeillaw New Member RossendaleMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 265
    I'm a bit like yourself, I chose to continue to work with a slower growth.
    I'm now at the point of looking at my capacity and bank balance as to whether I go solo or not this year.
    I've spent most of my time within industry so I'll be looking to take contract work to go along side practice building.
    Hate where I'm working at the moment but wife doesn't want me at home with her!
  • burgburg Experienced Mentor GloucesterModerator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,441
    @mrme89 Great for you for giving it a go. I really get the part-time practice as with keeping your employment as security. However my practice really didn't start to grow until I was available during the day. I would consider moving your employment to part-time if at all possible as soon as you can.

  • TreadStoneTreadStone Feels At Home AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 280
    Interesting reading. Seems I'm not alone then.

    The practice I work in simply needs a refresh. There's no management structure just the boss then everyone else. His communication skills are zero and he isn't willing to listen to suggestions about change. He's simply not willing to let the business evolve. He is inefficient and spends too much time in his business instead of on his business.
  • burgburg Experienced Mentor GloucesterModerator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,441
    It does seem a theme that many practices are out dated with poor systems in place. Now more than ever seems to be the time for potential new practices with modern systems and approaches.

    @mrme89 - Things never go to plan. Those bookkeeping roles that led me to finally quit my job didn't all materialise and I had to just wing it!

  • JawzJawz New Member West MidlandsRegistered Posts: 53
    Happy for you Ian....It just goes to show that hard work, perseverance,belief and of course a bit of luck along the way, pays!...

    Good luck to all going it alone-full time/part time.
  • TreadStoneTreadStone Feels At Home AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 280
    Now that January is over, I've now time to plan a bit. I've decided to try and build my client numbers in the next 12 months and then see how the land lies. If there's still no change in the day job, hopefully I'll have the numbers to make the shift for good. Time will tell.

  • BayViewBayView Registered Posts: 2
    I went on my own after 25 years of working in local chartered accountancy practices, most of which were nightmare firms working in the dark ages. Despite an offer of a partnership at my last firm, I knew I couldn't work with them, so spent a year or so advertising on the QT and doing a few bits of tax returns and accounts in evenings and weekends, built up, from memory, maybe £10k p.a. of work in year 1. I took the plunge, thinking if I could do that part time advertising without my name and with just a mobile number, I could so far better with proper advertising and a website, so I did it and I've never looked back. T/o was up to around £50k after a couple of years very hard work and intensive marketing, then I've since allowed it to just drift along, now just part time and not advertising anymore.
  • TreadStoneTreadStone Feels At Home AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 280
    Sounds familiar. Similar situation to me.
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