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7 Tips for Starting Your Own Practice

Starting LineEntrepreneurism is on the rise. With start-up fever igniting the Bay Area to the Chesapeake Bay what CPA hasn’t considered—even for a moment—starting his or her own firm? We each started our own firms and know firsthand about the advantages and challenges of venturing out on our own. A few months ago we participated in a live Facebook chat on how to start your own practice. Many of you joined us and asked great questions such as: What prompted you to start your practice? What is the best way to get your name out there? What were some of the unexpected challenges you encountered?

What’s our advice? Here are seven tips for starting your own firm:

If possible, plan in advance. Start your practice during a slower time of the year. This will ensure that you have time to build a client base for the next season, adequately plan your workload and gather resources you need.

Establish a mission that articulates value. Craft a meaningful mission statement that aligns with your vision and values.

Get your name out there. Begin by attending networking functions, conferences and civic meetings. Whenever possible, speak at professional events. Ask family, friends and fellow CPAs to keep you in mind, as they may be able to introduce you to potential clients. If you aren’t already, you may also want to get involved with your state society.

Be optimistic. Although running your own firm will not be easy in the beginning, it will get better. Actively work to create a good client base and find work you enjoy from day one.

Select your business location. When it came to deciding whether to rent office space or embrace the virtual office, both of us decided that an office was important. Having an office helps reinforce a work/life balance and also provides a space to hold client meetings.

Use social media. We use LinkedIn to promote ourselves and Facebook and Twitter to promote our firms.

Specialize. Don’t try to provide every service under the sun. Focus on your area of expertise instead. Both of us found success by serving a niche.

Each entrepreneurial CPA who goes out on their own has their own reasons for doing so. Maybe you have a strong desire to be your own boss, you have an overwhelming passion to serve certain business sectors, or your current position is being eliminated. When you start your own firm, you can create your own rules. The AICPA’s Private Companies Practice Section provides a rich array of valuable information and resources for firms of all sizes, helping member firms harness business opportunities and overcome challenges. We have benefited from these tools, including the Starting a CPA Practice webpage and related checklist, the Tax Practitioner’s Toolkit, the Human Capital Center and the Trusted Business Advisor Workshop.


Jacquelyn H. Tracy, CPA, CGMA, Founding Partner, Mandel & Tracy, LLC. Jackie has over 20 years of public accounting experience. Before founding Mandel & Tracy, she was a senior manager at KPMG, working in their Boston, MA; Providence, RI; and Montvale, NJ offices and serving numerous tax clients while facilitating various national-level training sessions. Jackie is currently a member of the AICPA's Governing Council and the AICPA's Private Company Practice Section Executive Committee.

Chris Farmand, CPA, CITP, Managing Shareholder, Chris Farmand + Company. Chris is an innovative and driven accounting professional with over ten years of experience. In his practice, Chris strives to combine twenty-first century technology with time-honored accounting practices. He is an active member of the AICPA and the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants, as well as serving on the AICPA's Private Company Practice Section Executive Committee.

Starting Line via Shutterstock


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