Goodness me, its nearly six months since I started Bulldog Accounting. Having had a birthday myself last week, I'm feeling reflective so here's some highlights from my experience so far.
Learning to schmooze
I've written before about how I'm not a natural networker but it is not nearly as scary as I thought it was going to be. I've been to a number of events now and despite a tendency to loiter around the edges, I've met some really nice and interesting people. I have learned that I'm (technically) a millennial, that it takes on average 56 days to on-board a new client, and that even if you don't get any (forgive me) "leads", it is still fun to make connections and share experiences with other business owners. I am now finding myself looking forward to the various meetings, and starting to recognise the faces around me. I am also much more plugged into my local community than I was before and have been trying new activities (such as the excellent Rock Choir which I fully intend to join after Christmas).
Patience is key
I am still in the very early stages of running an accountancy practice but I can already recognise that I was naive about how long it takes to find clients.
Its obvious when you think about it but most established businesses will already have an accountant, and start ups don't always have the resources to pay for accountancy support. Changing accountants is a bit of a faff, and only makes sense if you are unhappy with your current provision for some reason. I'm focusing on building credibility as an accounting professional by giving potential clients free, no-obligation consultations to see how I might be able to help them now, or in the future. When these individuals, or their connections, find themselves in need of an accountant in the future - I'm hoping they bear me in mind!
Businesses want different things
I've been speaking to lots of people about their businesses and what sort of support they want, need, or currently get from their accountants and the variation is interesting. Real time cloud-based systems like Xero have made it much easier for business owners to take control of their day to day accounting and I've met a number of people who want to do pretty much everything themselves, with a small amount of hand-holding from a professional accountant. Others want to do as little as possible, particularly when it comes to engaging with HMRC! Defining and pricing standardised services to suit all situations is therefore an interesting challenge, especially considering that businesses are constantly changing. What suits someone now is unlikely to be appropriate in several year's time and its important to make sure the support you provide is adding value for your clients.
Running a business on your own can be lonely, particularly at the beginning. I have a few lovely clients already who have been really positive about the work I'm doing, and its been wonderful finding a whole community of free-lancers and business owners in Hertfordshire to tap into. I've found loads of people willing to offer their support and advice, or just natter about bulldogs (which I spend way too much time doing). I'm also really grateful for the support of my family and friends. I'm super lucky to be able to take the plunge and start up my own business, and am loving every moment - even when its hard work! Here's to the next six months, can't wait to see where we are after a year of operation.