When Do I Start?

When Do I Start?

I was 45 when I started my accountancy practice.

It wasn’t a conscious “right, time to start”, it wasn’t a gut reaction.

The decision required the coming together of a series of events, ideas, thoughts and opportunities.

It was a gradual move towards starting.

I had left practice very soon after qualifying and swore I would never return. It was a bleak uninspiring experience – dull work, poor pay, too much study on top of work, I hated it.

I spent a total of 14 years working in industry, mostly in large corporates in the property and construction sector. At the height of the property crisis in 2009 I left full time employment to start working for a boutique financial consultancy, providing part-time FD type services to small business.

I then started to run my own FD Consultancy and during this time I came across a lot of small business who needed the support a part-time FD could offer, but they just couldn’t afford it or justify the cost. I’d often ask business owners why they didn’t ask their accountants for support. The usual answer was that they had and received nothing with accountants often saying they didn’t provide those types of services.

This planted the seed.

Then in 2010 I met Glen Foster from Xero and I was introduced to cloud software and the opportunity to share real time information on-line with business owners. No need to use a clunky and painfully slow remote server access, or wait for spreadsheet, desktop software back ups or shoes boxes of information to arrive.

This was a solution to how I could deliver the services I wanted to.

In 2011 while working on a large project and being exposed to how little support small business actually received – literally end of year accountants and tax returns only (usually delivered close to the filing deadline and with no support) I started to put a plan in place to start my own practice.

I contacted several business owners I had previously met with and told them I was starting my own practice offering support and advice on top of compliance and asked them “…would you be interested in working with me…?”

All answered with a resounding yes and so my practice was born.

So, the key to starting for me:

  1. I was disillusioned with employment, the financial crisis, constant firefighting, in house politics, working too hard and just generally not enjoying it.
  2. Working for myself – I’d always wanted to but had never known what to do – but it had been staring me in the face!
  3. Running the FD Consultancy and seeing the huge opportunity for me and the need to provide a better level of service to business owners.

Was 2012 the right time to start?

Now in 2019 and looking back I can say that 2012 was the right time for me.

Could I have started any earlier?

No, I wasn’t ready and as I stated earlier it was the coming together of a number of factors which created the opportunity.

When I did start, I committed to it 100% and worked hard enough to make sure that it had the best possible chance of succeeding.

How hard was hard enough?

I worked 80+ hours a week for the first 12 months. Often working all day on a contract basis and then returning home in the evening and working until 2am.

Now I’m not saying this is what you need to do, but you do need to be prepared to work harder than you ever have before to make sure it will be a success.

How hard you work will depend on how quickly you want to get there.

So, for anyone thinking about starting their own practice:

  1. Be realistic – there’s a lot of hype and bullshit about how ‘successful’ some people are. Speak to some practitioners to get a real front line opinion on what it is like and what you’ll need to do to get there.
  2. Have a fall-back position – know when to call it a day if it isn’t working.
  3. Get your family on board, you need their support and they need to know what you’re doing and why.
  4. If you do decide to give it a go – give it 100%.
  5. Don’t try and do it all on your own, look for advice and support. Others who have been through a similar experience will often be willing to share ideas, information and experiences

So, if after reading all of this you still want to start a practice…

…good luck!

And make sure you drop by here for information, support and advice.