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Need advice on how to start a cpa firm successfully

I'm not a CPA, but do plan to obtain certification.

I'm actually asking about this because I have a part time job with a CPA who wants to leave the firm he's with and go out on his own (taking me with him).  So we're looking for advice on how to start a successful cpa firm.

What should we consider that we may not be already thinking about?

Answers

Chris Holtzer
Title: Senior Manager - Strategic Analysis
Company: Sargento
(Senior Manager - Strategic Analysis, Sargento) |

First, switch your post to anonymous. I hope it wouldn't lead to issues, but you don't want to inadvertently shoot your future partner in the foot. You never know who will stumble across your post.

Then, figure out what you want to specialize in, if anything. I don't think you can do this fresh out of college, but maybe I am wrong (I know I would not have been able to, though at the time I probably thought I could). I recommend a few years (5+/-) under your belt, especially if you plan to specialize in audit, or tax. The young bucks do the heavy lifting, but the partner is the one who is the client hires. Clients want to know that they are getting exceptional services, with a strong track record.

If your partner is a seasoned professional, the advice would be totally different.

Topic Expert
Joseph Ori
Title: CEO
Company: Paramount Capital Corporation
(CEO, Paramount Capital Corporation) |

I'm CPA and suggest that you go to work for an accounting firm for a few years before you start your own firm. This will provide valuable work experience and contacts with clients that you can maybe take over to the new firm.

Samuel W Reed
Title: Cofounder and CTO
Company: BitMEX
LinkedIn Profile
(Cofounder and CTO , BitMEX) |

I actually did this many years ago and it went well during the time I operated independently. First, I'd follow Mr. Ori's advice (above) and work for a local accounting firm for a few cycles, so you can learn the trade and the types of clients you want to go after. Secondly, I'd start acquiring clients on your own, as your night job. Individual income tax returns are easy to acquire, but your bread and butter will come from small businesses. Third, while you are doing this, make sure your debt is paid-off and stockpile cash. When you are ready to take the plunge, keep your overhead low (look at shared offices, or working out of your house when starting). Also, join a network of CPA's for advice and to cross-sell work (if out-of-town) . If you plan on doing alot of tax returns, hire a clerical worker during busy season, as on the smaller returns just putting everything in the right envelopes takes as much time as the return. Leverage exisiting clients--compile their books, implement quickbooks, do their business return, do their personal return, their neighbor's return, etc.

Lastly, get a system down on what type of clients you want, what kind of work you want to do and how you will approach your sales. Some good seminars are available on this if you search the web.

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