5 key questions to ask before considering your accounting firm’s strategic plan

What’s worse: no strategic plan at all, or an outdated and ineffective one?

Strategic planning is an essential component for your accounting firm’s growth plan. Taking the time to look ahead will help you overcome unique challenges, leverage emerging opportunities, grow steadily and build a foundation for success.

Without a strategic plan, you'll struggle to improve and grow your accounting firm. But if you have a strategic plan in place that is ineffective, you risk even more. And, unfortunately, most strategic plans fail.

To build an effective strategic plan for your accounting firm, or to review and strengthen your current one, you must ask yourself some critical questions.

1. What is your current situation?

Answering this question honestly can be confronting for some accounting firm owners. It might highlight gaps in the business, or shine the harsh light of reality on where you are vs. where you thought you’d be.

But this is an important hurdle to overcome. By recognizing where you’ve fallen short, you’re immediately recognizing what needs to be done.

Karbon’s Practice Excellence Assessment is perfect for this. The free survey takes approximately 15-minutes, and provides you with a scorecard revealing your performance in the areas critical to running a successful accounting practice. You also receive a tailored list of recommended resources to help you improve in the areas that need the most work.

Related content: The making of the Karbon Practice Excellence Scorecard

In this step, it is also helpful to look at the bottom-line, overall health of your accounting firm, number of clients, trends in different departments, number of employees, financial health of the firm, and the state of your target market. Leave no stone unturned.

The data from this assessment will motivate and direct your next steps.

2. How did you get to where you are today?

What steps did you take (good and bad) to get to where you are today?

This moment of reflection will help identify the lessons you have learned from running your accounting firm until now.

Do you have any regrets? What were the most successful decisions you made that saw your firm grow?

It’s important to remember that this isn’t a blame game—objectively assessing how you began at point A to get to point B should be an honest process designed to strengthen your practice. 

3. Where do you want to go from here?

Now that you’ve reflected on where you are and how you got there, it’s time to strategize for the future.

Focus on the big picture. Ask yourself what success looks like to you. You need a clear vision for the future—it’s what will fuel your strategic plan.

Define your goals, set a timeline and understand how you will measure your success. And don’t forget to identify the key milestones along the way.

Communication is the most powerful tool at your accounting firm, so remember to clearly communicate these to your team.

4. What needs to happen?

At this point, you have clarity on the state of your accounting firm: 

  • You know the strengths, weaknesses, and potential opportunities. 

  • You know how you got to where you are now and what you could have done differently. 

  • You have a vision and goals.

So, what actually needs to change for you to reach success? What obstacles do you need to overcome?

Get your team involved in this step if they aren’t already—chances are they will be able to see potential blockers that you simply can’t.

Again, communication is key. Break down the plan for your staff so they understand the goals, the steps to achieving them, and how they play a part in making it all happen. Team alignment is critical in actioning your strategic plan, and thus, achieving success.

5. What additional knowledge, skills and resources are required?

Your strategic plan won’t be perfect. In fact, you may have milestones that can’t be achieved with your current team structure/ assets/ resources/ pricing model, etc.

You need to identify your gaps. Maybe your current staffing structure isn’t scalable, or perhaps you have noticed a skills gap in technology-use across your firm.

It’s important to embrace this step when planning your firm’s strategy. Upskilling your staff and balancing your resources will help build the frame that will support your goals.

Buckle up and knuckle down

Planning and implementing a strategic plan is difficult, not to mention overwhelming.

But these questions will help steer you in the right direction so you can create a solid strategic plan that will guide you towards success.

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