10 steps for getting practice growth right: CPAs offer insight into how they grew their smaller firms.

Author:Dennis, Anita
Position:Certified public accountants

When your firm is poised for growth, expansion can help attract new business, offer strong career paths, help you remain relevant to clients, and enhance the firm's value.

Managing growth isn't always easy, however, as you confront the challenge of scaling your practice effectively.

Below are tips from experienced CPAs on how to navigate periods of growth.

  1. Decide if it's time to grow

    Before you commit to change, Gale Crosley, CPA, CGMA, of Crosley+Company, who consults with accounting firms on creating high-growth cultures, advised taking a realistic look at what it will mean to you. In multipartner firms, that should include strategic planning with marketing, IT, and other key leaders. For sole practitioners with fewer robust resources, it could mean reaching out to trusted friends or business contacts for input and advice.

    "Many say they want to grow, but they may not have thought through the pluses and minuses," she said. Strategic planning can clarify whether growth is a good step and set the groundwork for successful expansion.

  2. Test ways to transform practice

    Gabrielle Luoma, CPA, CGMA, has grown her practice by taking a series of transformative steps that have changed her firm from a solo shop started in 2004 in Tucson, Ariz., to a partner in a joint venture with another firm. At each stage, she has experimented with big leaps forward for her firm. Her first steps included shifting to value pricing and becoming a virtual practice. Then, three years ago, she began to test new ways to position her firm to grow, moving from transactional compliance work to more advisory roles, offering outsourced accounting services to existing and new clients.

    By providing valuable business advice, she experienced greater demand for her new services immediately, and she leveraged her virtual firm's strong online presence to attract new clients. Making the decision to significandy restructure her business model worked.

    During the three years since her move from traditional services, "we experienced extreme growth" of 20% to 30% in annual revenue through the beginning of 2019, she said. While Luoma had eight employees before the joint venture, the new practice now has 25 staff members.

  3. Anticipate hiring needs

    As her firm grew, Luoma set a specific revenue target that she believed each person could manage, then took on more people when her revenue began to exceed her staff capacity.

    "We pay attention to timeliness and our ability to expand services...

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