While some accountants work within the corporate realm, many others choose to hang their own shingle. They need to develop a successful business strategy, the same as every other entrepreneur. Otherwise, the accountant may work long, hard hours with little profit in the bank. Strategy is the most important part of planning and running any business, and it involves much more than interpreting financial data. It gives business owners a competitive edge to increase their market share.
The core of a successful business strategy is deciding what goals to pursue, and then prioritizing them. One of these goals includes choosing a location where you can gain clients through foot traffic in addition to your marketing efforts. For example, an accountant planning to specialize in small businesses might choose to locate in an office complex, while a tax accountant might prefer a busy shopping center.
Other goals include products and services that you plan to offer, marketing your business and growing it with one-year and five-year plans. A strategy is a collection of goals, of which you may have many. Design them to capitalize on your strengths.
After prioritizing your goals, develop a plan for accomplishing them. A plan states what steps are necessary to accomplish each goal, along with a timeline for completion. As an example, an accountant with the goal of locating his or her office in an office complex might have the following plan:
1. Research zip codes with a high concentration of office complexes.
2. Research vacancy rates at office complexes located in high concentration zip codes.
3. Ascertain rental rates and free perks in complexes with less than 20 percent vacancy.
4. Research whether any other accountants have offices in those locations.
5. Eliminate locations that already have accountants.
By following the above plan, the accountant can hone in on office space that has foot traffic, as he only considers complexes with less than 20 percent vacancy. He eliminates competition in the immediate vicinity by choose a building without any other accountants. Moreover, he researches rents and perks to decide which office complex has the best deal. Good planning increases his chance of earning a profit and growing the business.
Tactics are the third part of a successful business strategy. They bring a plan to life, as they are the specific steps you will take to successfully complete. Tactics are a call for action. To continue the ongoing example of an accountant looking for office space, his tactics might be:
1. Limit the search to zip codes in the northern part of the city and its surrounding suburbs.
2. Visit the ABC and DEF complexes to read their office directories.
3. Research the types of businesses in the ABC and DEF complexes. For example, is there a concentration of medical or legal offices, or more of a general mixture of small businesses?
4. Evaluate how well the building, grounds and parking lots are maintained.
5. Sit in the lobby and observe foot traffic at 9:00 AM and during the lunch hour.
6. Contact management to look at available office space.
7. Sign a lease.
Notice how each of the three parts of business strategy becomes more specific. Goals are what you want to accomplish with the business. Plans are a guide to complete the goals. Tactics are the method to bring the plan to fruition. The accountant in these examples went from deciding to go into business for himself to signing a lease for office space.