Five Steps to Grow an Accounting Business Without Funding

Accountfully
6 min readApr 23, 2024

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How did Accountfully grow from zero to over seventy (and counting) employees over a 12-year period with no outside funding? Easy (not really). It may have taken a decade or so, but I’ve got it mostly narrowed down to five areas where we excelled in starting a business.

Keep in mind, this is my story and what I have learned. There are countless other examples of entrepreneurs paving the way with funding, using a different approach, you name it. As a five-time Inc.5000 company, and a healthy, thriving accounting practice (with zero plans of stopping anytime soon) I can vouch for our credentials.

These are five pillars of our success that you can apply to your business story.

One: Quality of Service

We are a service-based company. Our clients rely on us to provide a consistent, transparent, and quality product day in and day out. Without this, we are not Accountfully. At the core of our service offerings is outsourced accounting. Every client is onboarded with care and precision. Their books are cleaned up to our standards, they are brought into our tech stack, accounting software, and systems, and they are assigned a team of accountants responsible for their business.

Internally, we have initiatives in place that constantly refine and address any areas of improvement; client service delivery is one of these key initiatives. This team ensures a consistent and quality deliverable across all of our business divisions.

Two: Key Partnerships

Communities thrive when they support each other. In the business world, it is easy to fall into the competitive trap of thinking you need to fight for clients. Change that mindset and embrace the idea that there is plenty of business opportunity everywhere, for everyone. Once this change in point of view shifts, a lot of things change for the better.

Many of our longest-tenured clients came from strategic partnerships across a variety of industries. Aligning our goals with the goals of operations firms, investment firms, incubators, and other service providers in target client markets has allowed more success for us, and has greased the skids for clients in need of these partner services.

The trick to good partnerships is clear alignment between desired outcomes and product quality. It is never used as a generic revenue play or referral machine.

The best relationships come from adding value to the client from an honest and integrity-based foundation.

We find a lot of these partners organically; whether that is meeting through mutual clients, at a trade show, or through an industry event. As the years have passed, we are more stringent about what we seek in a partnership. Our boundaries are clear and goals are aligned with quality of service and those that have the client’s best interest at heart.

Three: Talent

Witnessing the journey from personally servicing a client to training your first employee, to seeing the teams unfold exponentially is equally humbling and satisfying as a business owner. There is always an initial struggle to balance delegating talent with doing too much yourself. Once you find that right mix, the focus then goes toward the right talent for the job.

Hiring strategies may vary based on goals and areas where the owner may not have the biggest strengths. Sometimes it is hiring a more qualified candidate who can be more tactical at first, then grow the function strategically, and sometimes it is training more entry-level team members and nurturing their growth as they learn the business functions they execute. Finding the right balance of confidently delegating versus being too involved is something you will have to always keep an eye on.

At the center of earning and retaining talent is providing a unique culture. Accountfully Life is one of the drivers of our most tenured employees. The focus on work-life balance and appreciation of the team’s backgrounds and perspectives make us an amazing place to work.

Knowing what type of employee matches our culture and brings the right experience to support our clients is another classic art form that comes from having a stellar team supporting hiring and staffing.

I have found again and again that finding the right person over the right price is what brings success long-term. Conversely, the hard and swift decision to pivot if someone is not right for the culture is a must to preserve the sanctity of the culture for your loyal, proven performers.

In short: start slowly and methodically when it comes to building the team. Keep a steady focus on which talent is the right fit for your business goals and your culture.

Four: Find the Right Niche

Jack of all trades, master of none is not a great business model. Sure, accounting can be generic, but it takes finding the right niche that needs your service and wants it exactly how you provide it to be truly successful.

Accountfully knows how a small business needs the important accounting foundations from pre-revenue to $ 20+ million a year. We also know that there are a series of additional accounting-related needs that are required along that revenue journey to grow and be successful. This is why we are designed in a way that allows flexibility in our service offerings. We also offer very niche, and important add-ons like inventory consulting, distributor deductions management, tax, and advisory services to support these businesses as they grow and evolve.

Find that special sauce that your target market needs. Hone in on the unique systems and skills they require to be successful in their business.

Offering in-house experts in these key areas is a huge selling point to our clients as they choose more add-ons like tax filing and advisory.

Five: Hard Work

While it sounds very generic, hard work is a necessary component of all of these items when making a business grow long-term. You could also change this to say “smart work”, as there is a strategy involved with making hard work effective.

How would we define the aspects of hard work that got Accountfully to where it is today?

  • Define: It is a dedication to defining our goals and driving forward toward these goals.
  • Execute: Taking accountability to put in the time and effort on a regular basis.
  • Refine: Success is a series of refinements. Looking at our progress and assessing whether we are putting resources into the right areas; if we need more resources: people, systems, and tools placed in certain aspects of the business over others.

Like I mentioned earlier, we have a series of internal initiatives that focus on improving our services. These are led by internal teams alongside those on the accounting front lines to make sure our services and communications are top-notch, and what our clients need.

Refinement activities also encompass internal needs, like our employee growth initiatives, that set goals and standards for employees seeking to move to the next level in their roles. Team members seeking growth in their field can go on a “CDP”, or Career Development Plan that allows them to showcase their abilities in the next tier of responsibilities of their job function. Once executed well, they are up for a promotion based on their performance within the plan.

Hard work is not hard when you have clear goals and enjoy what you do, but it is also never-ending when done properly.

The key is to define what success looks like and work toward creating that. Once you are there, refine and improve areas you want to make even better.

Closing Thoughts

Once you have a clear vision in mind of what you want to accomplish with your business, focus on providing simple, but quality services. From this, you can dedicate time to working consistently toward the goals you set for yourself and find the right balance of quality teams, industry partnerships, and hard work from all sides to keep the clients coming in. As you progress, keep reassessing and refining until you improve. Repeat and progress. Most of all, enjoy the journey toward your success story; you are a small business owner!

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.

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Accountfully

Outsourced Accounting and Tax Services For Modern Brands.