How to scale your accounting firm using automation

October 18, 2021 Osman Khan

Scaling an accounting firm effectively isn’t easy. But invest in the right systems, processes and technology from the start, and you’ll be rewarded with increased revenues without the risk of burnout.

There are several strategies for doing this, but to start with, it’s important to understand the difference between growth and scaling. 

Those terms are often used interchangeably, but there’s a key distinction. ‘Growth’ is generally used to describe a fairly straightforward process: a business adds new resources, whether that’s an injection of capital or new members of staff, and its revenue increases in line with that addition.

Scaling, on the other hand, means revenue increases without a substantial increase in resources. It’s easy to see why this appeals to a lot of business owners. 

Without having to exponentially increase the time and money you pour into your firm, you can take control of its future rather than simply keeping up with demand.

Scaling a business doesn’t happen by chance. It’s a deliberate, controlled process that needs careful planning – and for any modern business, automation has a significant role to play.

1. Build your foundations

Before you start to think about rapid growth and scaling, make sure you’re happy with your core business strategy. Things like your brand, the clients you’re targeting and the services you’re focusing on should be clearly defined, and you should know what kind of growth you’re aiming for. 

With those plans in mind, review your software setup. Do you have the right collection of systems with the features you need to achieve your goals and offer the best value to your clients? 

If the software you’re using now doesn’t quite suit your needs, and you and your team have to regularly find hacks and workarounds to get it to do what you want, it’s worth shopping around for a better solution – or seeing if there’s a way you can join up the dots. 

Automate it by linking up the software you rely on in your firm, so you have easy access to it in one place.

2. Systemise and standardise

In a small firm, there’s a tendency to get used to inefficient ways of working and ad-hoc approaches to each client.

As more clients come on board, however, it will become harder to manage all of these different quirks and maintain the same quality of service. 

Building a step-by-step process that can be applied to any new client will make it much easier to manage increases in workload. It also means as your team grows, your new starters will have an easier time learning the details.

You can still tailor your services to your clients and maintain a personal relationship with them – setting up these procedures just means the things that have to stay the same are easy to manage and take up as little time as possible.

Automate it by using software to carry out routine tasks consistently and accurately.

3. Keep a record

As you probably tell your clients, accurate record-keeping is essential. That’s just as true for your internal processes and client details as it is for financial data. 

As your firm grows, the amount of information you need to keep track of will become increasingly difficult to manage unless you have a good system for dealing with it. 

And once you start collecting information in various different places – your sales records, customer records, process documents and so on – getting it all organised becomes even harder.

That’s why it’s so important to establish an accurate and manageable record-keeping system from the start that will hold up even as your firm scales.

Automate it by syncing your data across multiple systems to give you a single point of truth. 

4. Invest in your team

To scale effectively, your whole team should be on board. If members of staff are used to a more traditional way of working, make sure you communicate the benefits of a more integrated approach and explain how they can save time using it.

As your firm expands and you recruit more staff, think about the skills you want on the team, too. Do you need more people with a specialist sector focus, or experience in business strategy and advisory services?

A truly scalable firm needs talented people who believe in what you’re doing and are committed to achieving your vision – and you need to invest in their development, too, to keep them on board and maintain your quality of service. 

Automate it by using technology to take on the tedious, repetitive and routine tasks, so your team has the time for higher-value services.

AIRPA connects your accounting systems and data, so you can work more efficiently and enhance your services. Book your free trial or demo to try it for yourself.

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