There’s something blissful about your business being “all you are.” But this happiness can turn into exhaustion if you don’t implement the right measures.
The following six tips will help you, as a solo virtual accountant, wear all the hats of your business successfully and with minimal stress.
Tip #1: Outsource
I know, I know… you don’t want a team. But you can have a solo bookkeeping practice without having to go it alone.
Instead of outsourcing client work – which requires building a team – consider outsourcing administrative tasks, such as:
- Website design and maintenance
- Accounting for your firm
- Personal tasks that take you away from building and running your business
When you outsource tasks that aren’t right for you, you free up your time and brain to focus on the things in your business that only you can do.
Tip #2: Take advantage of technology
If you’re a solo accountant, you need to become a tech-savvy user. Every solo accountant should have:
- A scheduling link (Acuity, Calendly, etc.)
- An automated onboarding system (Dubsado, 17Hats, etc.)
- A simple workflow system (Asana, Trello, etc.)
- Rules enabled in their accounting software to automatically post recurring customer transactions
- Templates for routine communication, such as customer inquiries. Gmail and Outlook both support templates and canned replies.
Like outsourcing, leveraging technology to automate as much as possible allows you to focus on what’s really important in your business.
Tip #3: Set Strong Boundaries
For whatever reason, many business owners treat solo accountants like employees they expect to be at their beck and call.
Setting strong limits reduces the likelihood of this happening. Establish and communicate the following to your customers:
- Your normal business hours, including holidays you observe
- Your communication policy (processing time for e-mails, telephone messages, etc.)
- Your turnaround time for special requests
- The expected delivery date for their financial statements each month
- Set up an emergency fee for any “urgent” request
- Not giving out your personal cell phone number to customers (use Google Voice or Phone.com for a work number you can use for calls and texts)
- Not informing customers in advance of planned vacations. Instead, set up an autoresponder to let customers know you’re out of the office and when you’ll get back to them. If you manage your clients’ payroll, include a note in the autoresponder informing clients that their payroll will be processed as usual.
Remember that even if you are a solo accountant, you are still a professional running a business. These limits will help reinforce that with your customers and yourself.
Tip #4: Fall for time blocking
When you’re wearing all your business hats, you need to budget your time. Blocking time is the best way to ensure that the important does not fall victim to the urgent.
Block your calendar for the following activities:
- customer work
- Email management
- Sales calls
- Marketing management (even if you outsourced it)
- Continuing education
- Research and development
Some independent accountants find it beneficial to have “office hours” open for their clients a few times a week. It is simply an open Zoom meeting that customers can join to ask impromptu questions. Not only does this help you manage your time, but it also helps reinforce the boundaries you set in tip #3.
Tip #5: Specialize in a niche
Niche specialization is good advice for businesses of all sizes.
For a solo accounting practice, this is essential.
Niche specialization will help you streamline your tech stack, increase your efficiency, and maximize your marketing efforts. Additionally, those who specialize gain expert status, which means they can charge more for the work they do. As a solo accountant, your time is valuable…take advantage of niche specialization to make the most money in the least amount of time.
Tip #6: Have a backup plan
Nobody wants to think about the worst case scenario, but solo accountants need to have a backup plan in case the worst happens. Build a network of trusted colleagues who can step in and handle your clients’ workloads if you’re away for a short or not-so-short period. This will give you and your customers peace of mind.
You don’t have to have a big team – or any team – to have a successful accounting practice. But you need to have the right tools and strategies to help you manage the many hats you’ll wear as a solo accountant. These six tips will help you run your business instead of ending up with a company running you