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How to go from an idea to your own Accountancy Practice in 9 months

Everything you need to know about starting Your Own Practice along with the support to make it happen

If having your own practice has become more than a passing thought, or something you simply want to know more about, we’d like to help you make it happen.

If you think having your own accountancy practice will be the best next step from your current position, or a way back to work that will work, we want to make that happen for you. Perhaps you’ve even started out on your own already but it’s very much feeling like a ‘job’ and you can’t see how to grow to a business… we can help with that too.

Because we know there’s a LOT to think about. There’s the paperwork, the technology, the services, the marketing (& selling) and the ‘business’ side of things too. It’s all do-able, but you need to know what makes a practice work to make it work for you.

Archna Tharani and Lucy Whittington

That’s where we come in. We’re Archna and Lucy – a chartered accountant who’s been there and done it – setting up a successful practice after corporate accounting and a career break, and a seasoned marketer whose speciality is helping other business owners be brilliant using strategies that work.

We have the plan for Your Own Practice and we’d like to share it with you

We’re making some assumptions about you of course – you need to be a qualified Accountant (ACA, ACCA, CIMA, etc.) and serious about setting up and running your own accountancy practice. We can share all the systems, know how, short cuts and more, but only you can run your practice, so we’ll need to know you’re going to do the work (which will probably be less than you think, but definitely not nothing!).

If this is you…

If you’re currently in a corporate accounting position – either with a big firm or working in industry, and are ‘frustrated’ with your job, we get why you might have the odd thought about starting your own practice. You work long hours, it’s not fitting in with family life (whether you have children or not), or you’re simply bored… because you always had this idea that one day like to do your own thing.

If you’re currently working in a practice we’re guessing you’re ‘stuck’ behind Partners who are blocking your career path. If your career relies on someone else’s retirement, we get that can be rather frustrating too. You might even have been side stepping from firm to firm but staying in the same position trying to find a way through.

Maybe you’re considering coming back to work after a career break and the idea of going back to ‘work’ work – with it’s full time, long hours, latest updates you weren’t updated on and of course now childcare to think about, makes your old job a non starter (or an unwelcome option). You may even have been questioning your skills as an accountant, even seeing yourself as an ‘ex-accountant’, and wondering what next? Do you need to retrain?

Or if you’ve started out on your own already, are ‘self-employed’, but it’s not what you planned for, we can show you how to convert that to a practice you can grow and enjoy.

Because we know there’s a BIG difference between knowing WHAT to do and actually DOING it… We see ourselves as teachers, coaches, cheerleaders and ‘been there done that so you don’t have to’ guides. We will have answers to all your questions, and that’s key to the programme. We don’t just share a one size fits all blueprint or formula, we help you work out YOUR own practice that works best for you.

Perhaps you want to work part time, or full time with a huge team. World domination or kitchen table working we don’t mind, it’s the same set of systems, we can help you create the business you want to have as an Accountant in Practice.

Here’s what’s included in the 9-month Your Own Practice programme:

5 × full day Saturday workshops (recorded if you can’t make any live) on the 5 elements of Your Own Practice

  1. The paperwork: Rules & Regs
  2. The technology: Software & Platforms
  3. The services: Products & Packages
  4. The market: Getting clients
  5. The business: Systems & Processes

2 × full day Mastermind sessions – to troubleshoot & support your new business – learn from and support each other

Online training – classes and Q&As to complete your knowledge, and give you answers throughout the programme

Forum – for ongoing feedback and support (hosted on Facebook)

You’ll build your own Practice ‘file’ as we work through the elements and plan. Compile the content you need to get started, keep going, and grow. With us next to you helping you get your own practice details just right for you.

The other 80%

Most everyone who starts a business (accountants being no exception) think that 80% of the work is about the work you do (accounting in this case) but ask us and we say it‘s more like 20% of the work.

The other 80% of a business is the business itself. It’s knowing how to run a business, set up services, market and sell what you do, manage clients, create and follow systems, and take advantage of technology. It’s not the best accountants who have the best accountancy practices (although we’d like to think you’ll do both really well) – it’s those accountants who have the best business knowledge. The business know how is the ‘other 80%’ that will make your accountancy practice successful. And that’s what we spend most of our time focused on in the Your Own Practice programme as we already know you’re a qualified accountant (who may simply need some refreshers, reminders or repositioning where that work is concerned).

Why are we doing this?

Archna knows how difficult it can be to get back to work when you’ve taken a career break and how stressful it can be working in corporate. She was also unsure if starting her own practice was possible or even a good idea! After considering her back to work options Archna started her own practice in 2014. Not one to do things half heartedly, she bought an existing ‘traditional’ practice, took it all onto the cloud, systemised everything, and had it running at 40% more turnover on 50% less clients within a year. She loves systems almost as much as balancing a ledger. And that didn’t go unnoticed… winning Best Cloud Accounting Firm of the Year and being booked as a speaker at industry events to share her results. She was often being asked “How can I do that?” by accountants in corporate, acquaintances ‘on a break’ from accounting, and self employed accountants who aspired to having a ‘real practice’. Having set up the systems for her own practice (and sharing them when asked) the logical next step was to set up a ‘proper’ training programme. But being a full time practice owner, speaking and advising on the side, meant that training program didn’t get off her to do list.

Then along came Lucy… meeting Archna through a business Mastermind, Lucy knows first hand how to design, set up, run, market and sell online and workshop based programmes (having done that for her own business for years and advising clients how to on an almost daily basis too). She also very helpfully ‘gets’ accountants (not least as her father is one). With a very relevant background in Accounting Software Marketing for many years (she launched Xero in the UK), she’s an experienced marketer, and has run her own consultancy business since 2005. If anyone was going to help get Your Own Practice up and running it was Lucy. And it helped that she and Archna hit it off right away.

And so the ‘story’ behind why we’re doing this is we know that starting and running your own practice can mean the difference between a happy accountant and a stressed one. It can be a way of using your brilliant business numbers skills in a way that doesn’t drive you crazy. Not only can you support the HUGE number of small (and large) businesses who need their finances managed, but you can build yourself a business that works for you brilliantly too. A happy accountant is a better accountant as far as we’re concerned, and we’re sure you agree with us on that!

Having your own accountancy practice can solve a lot of ‘problems’ you may be experiencing with your work right now. You can choose your hours, your clients, your focus, your environment (yes if you want to, you can work from a hammock on the beach, although we wouldn’t be as cheesy as to use that in our marketing), choose your income, your responsibilities and your experience too. Being your own boss is always about choice – because you are in charge!

But what about…

What about when being your own boss sounds scary? Because when you get to choose your hours, your clients, your focus, your environment, your income, and your experience, you are responsible for creating them too – none of them are guaranteed. So we won’t pretend starting your own practice is risk free. No business is risk free.

Our reason for starting the Your Own Practice programme is to limit the risks as much as possible. Risks that create questions such as:

  • What do I need to know?
  • What if I don’t know what to do?
  • Am I qualified enough/in the right things?
  • Where do I find clients?
  • What do I charge clients?
  • How can I do this all myself?
  • How do I hire people?
  • Can I handle it?
  • What if I get stuck/have a question/don’t know what the best option is?
  • Will I actually get paid…?
  • How do I manage my time?
  • Where can I work?
  • How do I keep up with ‘everything’?

Don’t think you’re the only person thinking these things. We still do (most days) but we’ve worked out tried and tested answers for them all. Some of these risks can be eliminated with simple checklists and ‘how to’ guides. Others we can mitigate as much as possible with decades of experience in marketing, sales, systems and small business set up. Then it’s simply a case of supporting YOU to do the work (some cheerleading may be involved here).

What to expect at the end of the programme…

Our plan will help you launch your own Practice before the 9 months of the programme ends (if that works for you). We aren’t here to simply ‘tell’ you about setting up your own practice, we actually want you to DO IT. The programme is designed in 2 sections – the learning part and the doing part. You’ll start with a series of workshops and online learning, then we’re here to support you through the ‘action taking’ implementation part of the programme via Masterminds and Q&A sessions. We’re expecting you to have LOTS of questions as you get started so we don’t want to simply impart information and leave you to ‘work it all out’ when it comes to making it happen.

Our rule of thumb for expected income (also an accepted industry benchmark) is that every fee earner in your practice should bring in around £100k in fees. So if it’s just you working it’s entirely possible to generate a six figure turnover on your own. Or if you choose to work part time, expect a pro rata amount accordingly. Grow your team with extra fee earners, deduct their salaries and you can do the adding up. In terms of other business costs we can also help you keep these to a minimum with advice on what you need and what’s simply a nice to have. Of course we can’t guarantee any income as that’s entirely dependent on you doing the work. But we can guarantee we’ll be there to help along the way though with advice, support, examples and energy if you need it.

What this isn’t…

This isn’t simply a list of ‘what to do’ so you need to figure out every action. There are checklists, there are recommendations, and there’s certainly a lot we’ll want to explain. But we also don’t want you to make unnecessary mistakes or take too long to get things done which may happen if you’re left on your own without support.

On the other hand this is not an ‘out of the box’ franchise set up either*. We won’t be handing out strict guidelines on how to set up an accountancy practice in one defined way. What we want more than anything is for you to create your OWN practice – you will work out who you want to work with, how, and when, we’ll just make sure you get all the details defined that you need to, to make your own practice work. (*There is an option to take on an Oculus License if you like the style of how Archna’s practice works but we’ll talk about this as part of the course and it’s by no means a requirement – simply an ‘easier’ option if you like the sound of it at that stage).

This is a guided programme with both teaching and hands on implementation support included. It’s designed to take you from idea to implementation, with a wealth of know-how to refer back to.

How much time you’ll need

When your Practice is up and running you may want to hire people to work more hours than you want to yourself, or you may choose to work part time all the time. It’s your own practice so it’s always up to you how much time you spend working in it.

In the set up stages there is work to do and we advise having 2 days a month available on top of the ‘teaching time’ we will be providing in the programme (the full day workshops, and online trainings). Don’t forget you can split out your time to half days or half hours as suits with your current situation – as long as it all adds up to enough. The point we must make though is you will need to spend time on your new business to make it work.

Once you get clients you’ll be able to decide how many hours you work and how you want to increase your turnover when you reach capacity (if you do). And you’ll also want to work out how much ‘business’ time you’ll need to keep the engine of your practice running (or what to outsource when you know what works).

What it costs

We’ve already mentioned the time it will cost you which is designed to be a lot LESS time that it would take to figure this all out on your own. If you’re currently working, you may need to give up the box-set-watching for setting up your accountancy practice. Or you may need to figure out some childcare now as you ‘go back to work’.

The Your Own Practice training programme is a 9 month fully supported training programme jointly delivered by Archna Tharani (ACA) and Lucy Whittington (MBA). Workshops, online training, Masterminds and other resources are included. Let’s have a conversation & we can talk you through the investment.

For the first enrolment, Archna and Lucy are offering 50% scholarship awards (by application only) in return for feedback and ‘room for revision’ (we’ve worked out everything you will need but if there are other things required we’ll add them in if you tell us what they are).

Next Steps

Find out more about the programme, how the scholarship works, or book a call…

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More about Archna

Archna-Tharani-portrait

Qualified as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG and then head of finance for a venture capital fund. Has a decade of industry experience working in finance and with 100s of small businesses.

Now Owner/Director of Oculus Accountancy – a paperless award-winning cloud based accountancy practice in central London.

Speaker, trainer, award-winner, married (to an accountant), mum of 2, and Pilates practicer.

More about Lucy

Lucy Whittington portrait

Experienced marketer with in house experience spanning start-ups to international plcs, mostly (but not all) B2B software businesses.

Owner/director of consultancy Inspired Business Marketing Ltd since 2005 working with a wide range of clients to market and sell what they do brilliantly.

Author, speaker, thinker, married (to a web designer), mum of 2, and seaside walker.