Back in 1996 when I started my own accounting firm, I was very ambitious and wanted to grow.
Within the first couple of months, I hired my first team member and 2 trainees, and the firm just kept growing. With this small close-knit team, I found the business really enjoyable to work in.
But things started to change as my business grew. 4 years in, I had 12 employees. At that point, the fun went out of the business…
With 12 people in the office the dynamics changed. There were internal politics going off and I had to become very careful with hiring decisions.
In the late 90s, I had a team member who was quite good with technology, so they set up the whole office with all of their computers and set up a server for us all to communicate on. The server crashed at one point and that team member demanded a pay rise before they would fix it.
I was so shocked! It made me realise, I don’t like working with people.
I love client work – I enjoy consulting, giving advice and helping them with their businesses. But managing a team of people often felt like a pain.
That’s why I could really relate when my student Zeb Smith asked me how to build a business with 500k profits without hiring anyone. So, how do you do it…
The nature of accounting and bookkeeping is working 1-to-1 with clients. We can only do one tax return at a time, or one set of books. With one person you may be limited to swapping your time for money.
But there are ways to make your business scalable without hiring anyone…
You can mitigate the issue by having systems in place in your business. By using systems, workflows and technology, you can make the business run more efficiently.
In order for those systems to work well, you need to have a strategy in place about which clients you want to work with.
Let’s say you do bookkeeping and you have different clients on various different systems: QuickBooks Online, Sage and Xero.
This is going to make your life much harder because you have to learn all the different systems, the terminology that goes with those systems and you will have various data in different places. It’s inefficient.
You need to set some rules.
Decide what system your clients need to be on and how they need to give you the information. You need to be very specific and strict so that you can actually benefit from the efficiencies of systemisation.
Of course, even by implementing systems and strategies, there is still a limit to how much 1-to-1 work you can physically manage.
You can raise that ceiling with efficient systems, but there is only so much work you will have capacity for.
If you really don’t want to hire, you can outsource some of the work. You will need to be very focused and have clear communication to work efficiently with that third party.
If you are limited by time, change your focus to delivering only the top premium services that you can charge a higher price for.
If you can solve big problems for clients – save them thousands in tax with a tax planning service or increase their profits immensely with business advisory – you can charge premium fees for doing that extremely valuable work.
If you focus on delivering the premium services, you can make more money without having to hire more people.
I run a million-pound business with just 3 team members.
We can do that because we don’t work on a 1-to-1 basis. I teach accounting professionals how to value price and grow their businesses. I deliver that content on a 1-to-many basis through video and online training courses.
The big problem with growing your accounting firm is working with clients on a 1-to-1 basis. If you can shift to working 1-to-many it opens up a lot of possibilities with scale.
Let’s say you are running a business advisory service. Rather than meeting each client individually, you could form a small group and meet online. You can teach that group, facilitate a discussion around growth strategies and run through some exercises with them.
You can charge a fee for that meeting.
What you lose in the 1-to-1 format, you gain by bringing together business owners that can network and brainstorm more ideas together.
Now let’s consider the math behind this…
If you ran such a business club online for 90 minutes a month for 10 of your business advisory clients, and they all pay you $100 a month – that’s $1000 every month for 90 minutes of training and a little bit of prep and follow up work.
If you then found another 10 clients that wanted to join your business club, that would mean $2000 every month, but your workload doesn’t change at all.
Unlike working on a 1-to-1 basis, there is no additional work involved if more clients join you.
That’s how I run my business. It’s how I teach over 500 people every month with just 3 team members.
If you can introduce something like this to your business, you can grow your profits exponentially without having to hire anyone.
If you would like to learn more about value pricing and how to grow your business, I run a free online training session live every month with a topic chosen by you. You can attend and ask me questions. Click here to register and I will send you an invitation to the next session.
And if you would like to join a community of accounting professionals learning to price more effectively and confidently, you can join my Facebook Support Group here.
Wishing you every success on your pricing journey.
Chartered Accountant, Public Speaker and Author of Amazon No.1 Best Seller, “Effective Pricing for Accountants”
Your Pricing Journey gives you access to my pricing training delivered every month in easy to digest, and easy to implement, steps.
So if you sometimes find yourself working too hard, for too little money, this programme will solve that problem.