The 2 pillars you need when structuring your accounting firm for serious growth

“Businesses don’t plan to fail; they fail to plan.”

A person is writing on a whiteboard that is covered in writing and 4 orange sticky notes.

We all either know and have experienced, or can imagine, the pain that comes along with growing a firm. From finding and keeping great people to building consistent processes for serving clients—responsibilities easily become overwhelming.

But growth doesn’t have to equal more pain.

The key is to start with ‘the end’ in mind. 

‘The end’ is your dream. It’s your vision of success, your end-goal, the result that will make you feel like you’ve achieved all that you set out to do. 

For some, ‘the end’ is a successful firm that runs without them, providing them with passive income.

Consider what ‘success’ really means to you, and ask yourself:

  1. What passive income do I want to earn and at what age?

  2. What does that translate to in terms of turnover and net profit?

  3. What resources (staff and systems) do I need to support that turnover?

Go to work, not to prepare a tax return. Go to work to build your dream.

Ed Chan, Chan & Naylor and Wize Mentoring

Two pillars for designing a firm for serious growth

1. Your growth blueprint and organizational chart

If growing your firm is your dream, then to realize it, you need to develop the right blueprint and organizational structure.

These include the key roles you need to fill to ensure you approach your firm’s growth with confidence instead of fear and angst. And the right organizational chart will help you develop people into the right roles.

A scalable organizational structure should be systems-depended, not people-dependent. This is more like a corporate structure where rather than depending on the talent of individual people, you’re relying on defined tasks, roles and accountability.

In this structure, you have job descriptions for each role and a documented process for each function. You can hold people accountable for their work and easily train a replacement if you lose someone.

When getting started, the reality is that you’re still going to be involved in many areas because:

  1. This is a transition phase, and

  2. You will have fewer resources

But even early on, you should be creating systems that allow you to gradually remove roles off your plate and eventually replace yourself. 

Learn more about designing a scalable organizational structure for your accounting firm.

2. Hire the right people

Once you have your organizational chart planned, it’s time to hire the right people. Your team will have a variety of needs as things scale, and it’s important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your people.

Many accounting firm leaders make the mistake of hiring people that are similar to themselves or their existing team members. This mistake can be costly because the people you hire should complement you, not necessarily replicate you.

This means building a team with a variety of skills and strengths.

As a rule of thumb, during the hiring process, the best candidates will:

  • Respond enthusiastically and in a timely manner

  • Be technically qualified and skilled at tech in general

  • Ask good questions

  • Show an attention to detail

  • Demonstrate that they’re looking for a good employer

Every interaction with a candidate reveals their commitment and, most importantly, their attitude.

Attitude is incredibly important when building a team. Avoid the smartest people with the worst attitude.

Learn more about hiring the right people.

Remember your North Star

Building the foundations for an accounting firm to scale requires work and planning. Remember your end goal at all times. It will act as your North Star and ensure that every decision you make is leading you towards your dream.