A vast majority of the 42,000 accounting firms in the United States — around 41,600 — earn less than $3 million per year and have 20 or fewer employees. How can these small accounting firms compete with larger ones that have the tools, talents and resources to land big-time contracts? Edward Mendlowitz, CPA and partner at Withum, Smith and Brown, has a few ideas.
The overriding idea is that small accounting firms must add value to their services. Accountants should fill needs above and beyond basics such as filing income tax forms and making sure clients remain compliant with state, federal and local finance laws. Computer programs and accounting technology allow experts to analyze financial numbers and determine whether a company is solvent, and they can even make predictions based on current information. Accounting firms can take advantage of developing technology to expand their services in several ways.
1. Growth Potential
As of 2016, the economy is still rebounding from the recession, and plenty of growth potential exists for businesses in America. When small businesses grow and become more complex, they need more services. If you land a contract with a small business before it grows larger, you have an opportunity to grow your business along with your clients.
2. Birds of a Feather
Smaller businesses tend to flock toward small accounting firms because they understand one other. Accountants and their clients need to see eye-to-eye. The concerns of a small business mimic those of small-time accountants, as they both look to grow while maintaining great customer service with dedicated clients.
3. Additional Services
Pushing additional services for clients may not seem like a priority for small firms. However, accountants can have the right attitude despite working hard to meet deadlines for basic services. There are so many tools accountants can use to improve their quality of services, and they're literally at your fingertips. Computer software, cloud-based systems, mobile apps and more can tap into a client's financial books from afar so you can stay on top of any red flags, upward trends or issues to watch out for in the future. When you recognize how you can help in real-time, that's when you give your client a heads-up that could potentially save his business.
4. Customer Responsiveness
Accountants can offer very personalized, one-on-one service to potential clients because smaller firms may not have a large staff. Clients might be impressed by personal touches when a fellow business owner walks into an office, sits down and talks about finances and the future. Hands-on accounting could pay off in the long run with loyal, dedicated customers who love your customer service ideals.
Business owners may have a lot of stress, especially around tax time or the end of the year. Small accounting firms can fill a void and add value as a company that understands the trepidation, pitfalls and promise of owning a business. Small accounting firms have so much to offer clients within a local area. All it takes is dedication, passion, knowledge and the right tools for the job.
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