The accounting practice action plan

The focus of successful, driven accounting firms is on their clients. These firms are evolving their business models and processes, investing in technology and developing their staff in order to facilitate proactive, forward-looking client relationships. The firms outstripping their competitors also have niche markets. They’re clear about their target market and about who falls not only inside but also outside their service model.

To maximise the opportunities of an evolving Australian accounting industry and changing client needs, it might be time to re-evaluate your business strategy.

1. Who are your ideal clients?

What makes them tick? What frustrates them? What are they looking for? Can your business provide this?

Consider your firm’s brand positioning in the market. How does your offering stand apart from that of your competition?

What will ensure that your ideal client chooses you over another provider?

You should be able to articulate this in an elevator statement – one sentence you could use to describe your business to someone in the time it takes to ride an elevator. This statement can become the lens you apply to all future business decisions.

As a part of your positioning, consider the values you wish to exhibit to your clients and ensure your staff are aware of these and reflect them in their client interactions.

2. What are your long and short-term strategic objectives?

What are your strategic objectives across the next one, three and five years?

Do your objectives need to evolve?

Strategic objectives should always be quantifiable, so you can measure your success as you progress, and they don’t always need to be financially focused.

Consider including objectives relating to client satisfaction and staff retention, as well as how much revenue and profit the business aims to make in a set time period.

3. Separate strategies

What separate strategies will help you achieve these objectives?

You might consider developing a strategic roadmap for each business area (for example human resources or marketing) to provide as much clarity as possible about the goals for each department.

This will also help you communicate your strategy throughout the business and engage each team more effectively.

4. Resources

What resources do you need to deliver your strategies?

Consider the following:

  • Services offered – are your clients looking for more services than you currently offer? How might you extend your services to provide what they’re looking for and gain a greater share of their wallet? Can you develop a referral arrangement with other businesses that have a similar client base or values? Can you acquire a business that suits your strategic objectives?
  • Staffing What skills do your staff members need as you execute your new strategy? If your current staff members don’t have these skills, what types of people might have them, and how can you bring them into your team? Can you up-skill your staff and undertake licensing or does the role require a specialist? From a staff retention perspective, successful businesses often think about other initiatives or policies that can be introduced in order to attract and keep the highest quality staff members.
  • Technology what technology solutions do you need to meet your ideal client’s needs? Should you consider the cloud and the positive impact it might have on your current infrastructure? Or could a technological solution help you achieve other objectives like being more responsive and proactive in servicing your client base through regular communications? Consider how you can leverage technology to streamline measurement and reporting processes and provide a more real-time view of your successes and opportunities.
  • Brand profile and marketing – consider your brand positioning and ideal client. How and where can you reach your ideal client? What communication channels are appropriate and how often do they want to hear from you? Consider a regular program that enables you to plan your communications and the information you send to clients. Also consider how you can raise your profile and use your existing clients to find new ones. Events are often a successful platform for this, so think about events you can facilitate that might suit your base.
  • Measurement and review – to understand the impact of your changes, ensure all your activities have established quantifiable key performance indicators (KPIs) at the outset and progressively check in to see how you’re tracking against them. Relevant staff should review this reporting regularly and identify opportunities for optimisation. 

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