5 skills needed for running a successful accounting practice

As an accountant, you obviously need the ability to crunch numbers and analyse financial data. Additionally, to run a successful accounting practice, you need a set of entrepreneurial skills to help you find and sign new clients. You also need certain soft skills to keep clients happy and inspire your employees, if you hire any.

This guide will go over five key skills needed for accounting, including:

  • Sales and communication
  • Client relationship building
  • Creativity and adaptability
  • Technological expertise
  • Resilience

Read on to learn more about why you need these skills.

1) Sales and communication

As the owner of an accounting practice, you need to understand the market and how your firm fits into it, but also have the skills to communicate your value to a prospective client. After all, it doesn’t matter how good an accountant you are if you don’t know how to approach a prospect or handle a client.

Sufficient sales and communication skills allow you to adapt to different situations and people. You need these skills whether you’re hustling for new prospects, upselling additional services to existing clients or managing a team.

For example, how you phrase a message might be effective for some people and off-putting for others. If you speak too fast or use too much jargon, a less experienced business person might shy away. On the flip side, a more experienced person might feel patronised or bored if you simplify your language too much. 

Working on your sales communication skills will empower you to alter your style to fit each individual. Pay attention to how a client or prospect communicates with you and follow their lead. It’s also wise to research clients, changes in the market, trends and even communication tips. 

2) Customer service and relationship building

The need for communication skills doesn’t stop when prospects sign on as your clients. Understanding what your clients need is essential to achieving business success since it helps you deal with them respectfully and efficiently. 

Additionally, good customer service helps you keep clients for the long term. Client retention is key to growing a business and 89% of companies say that excellent customer service plays a huge role in keeping clients happy. 

Establishing genuine relationships with clients also saves you money since client retention generally costs less than client acquisition. Additionally, the probability of selling to existing clients is 60-70%, compared to 5-20% for new ones.

Base your client relationship on open, honest communication and proactive customer service to develop a partnership that is as fruitful for your firm as it is for their business. 

3) Creativity and adaptability

Another skill needed to run a successful accounting business is the ability to think on your feet and come up with creative solutions to problems. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that none of us knows what’s ahead and the universe can hit us with curveballs at any time. 

As the business world adapts to the ‘new normal’, you need the ability to roll with the change and lead by example for your clients and others you work with. Research shows that 90% of customers say how companies react in a crisis demonstrates their trustworthiness.

To run a successful accounting practice, you need the ability to adapt to situations as they arise. Technological acceleration also results in ever-changing client needs, meaning accountants need to keep their eyes and ears open for ways to improve their services to meet those demands. 

4) Technological expertise

You’ll likely have heard this before, but you need sufficient technical knowledge to succeed in the modern business climate. Tech savviness has been a requirement for accountants for a while, but the need has accelerated in the past year. According to Salesforce, 88% of customers expect companies to fast-track their digital transformation because of the pandemic.

As the leader of an accounting practice, you need skills that extend beyond simply knowing how to use accounting software. With technology constantly evolving, accountants must be ready to use new innovations every year. As new solutions enter the market, you need the ability to differentiate between them and select the most useful system for your needs.

For firms looking to attract small business owners as new clients, offering seamless, innovative and super-effective accounting solutions is key. As you’ll be well aware, running a business is time-consuming, meaning any solution that can streamline the workload is highly appreciated.

Learn more about creating a digital transformation strategy for modern accounting firms.

5) Resilience

Finally, a vital trait every business leader needs is resilience and a willingness to work hard to achieve your goals. Successfully meeting tight deadlines while juggling multiple clients’ demands and staying positive through tough challenges is a skill every business owner needs.

Resilient people keep a cool head in difficult situations and see them as a challenge instead of a disaster. Viewing failures as lessons to be learned from will allow you to identify opportunities for improvement. 

Being resilient means not giving up until you find a solution to a problem. Running an accounting practice won’t always be plain sailing and you’ll often need to put in long hours to keep the business afloat. 

Resilience means spending time and energy on situations you have control over, placing your effort where it’ll have the most impact. Master this skill (and the others in this guide) and you’ll be well equipped to run a successful accounting practice. 

Work smarter with small business clients and Countingup

You can work smarter and start saving your practice time on manual admin by helping your clients keep organised records with Countingup’s free accounting software, built specifically to help you manage your self-employed and sole trader clients.

The app automates time consuming bookkeeping admin for your clients so they can focus on running their business – and send you accurate, structured data to work from. With instant invoicing, automatic expense categorisation and cash flow insights, your clients will be able to confidently keep accurate bookkeeping records everyday.

Countingup’s accounting software is MTD-compatible and full of features for you to review and manage client accounts efficiently, with direct access to their real-time organised data. Find out more here.

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