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6 Figures With 16 Clients? How To Build A Super Profitable Cpa Tax Accounting Bookkeeping & Payroll Firm

June 17, 2021
Bill Kimball

small cpa firm revenues

Here’s the thing — the accounting world is changing. The way things have always been done is no longer the path to success. Ever-growing competition, the rise of AI, automation, and the gig economy have made it harder than ever to maintain profits. Tax deadlines, client mergers, and audits are all just part of the job. I can’t remember the first time I listened to a podcast, or even when I first knew what that was. I do remember discovering I could subscribe to podcasts and create a library on my phone so that there would always be something there to listen to. If someone hates mentoring but they do it because it’s politically incorrect to abstain, this awful attitude will affect the job they to as a mentor.

small cpa firm revenues

For example, accountants and auditors salaries’ were highest in the securities and commodities industry at $96,260 as of May 2012, according to the BLS. Accountants and auditors also earned relatively high salaries working for the federal executive branch of government — $90,560 versus the industry average of $71,040. CPA firm owners may be able to charge higher fees for federal clients, or those in the securities and commodities industry, which can earn them higher profits. They may also earn more in bigger cities because of a larger number of potential clients. Business advisory services can be perceived by clients as providing additional value.

Small Cpa Firm Profitability Data: My Review

These jacks-of-all-trades could soon find themselves outmaneuvered by a new wave of specialists that deliver a narrow range of easy-to-understand services. High-growth firms aren’t necessarily following the same strategy, as Hinge has not found an association between offering investment services and high performance.

Focus on finding new clients that are organized and proactive. These clients can increase profitability because they take up less of your time — particularly if you move to a value-based pricing model versus a per-hourly model. Instead of focusing on bringing in new clients, which requires a high time investment upfront, look for ways to increase profits by offering the clients you already have additional services. On the surface, the easiest way to increase CPA profitability is simply to increase your rates or bring on more clients.

Like law firms, CPA firms generally charge for their services by the hour. However, some services, like tax return preparation, are often billed at a flat rate (e.g. $50 to file a form EZ). According to an article at CPA Trendlines, hourly rates for partners/owners at small CPA firms (those with less than $500,000 in annual revenue) range from $115 per hour to $154 per hour. A sole practitioner CPA working 40 hours per week for 48 weeks per year could expect to earn approximately $220,800 — $295,680 per year before expenses. CPA firms vary in size from single-member firms operating out of home offices, to multinational firms with thousands of employees.

Deciding Business Strategies

The owner of a small CPA firm may choose to employ non-CPAs to help with providing these services or performing administrative tasks. A Certified Public Accountant is an accounting professional who has met rigorous education, work experience and exam requirements to obtain a CPA license from the state. CPAs who start their own firms often provide a variety of high-value financial services including tax preparation, financial statement audits, bookkeeping and consulting. Folks, if you’re starting a CPA firm and you wanna have success with a small group of clients, serve as an outsourced accountant. Do the thing I have told you here, consider payroll. I’m telling you, you’re gonna have a great business.

First, partners need to have the skills to be an effective mentor. Contrary to popular thought, many people are not natural-born mentors. The better firms have “train the mentor” programs. Unfortunately, I see a lot of CPA firms doing things that thwart succession planning. Here are seven common problem areas that prevent CPA firms from succeeding to the next generation. Why is it such a challenge for CPA firms to succeed and survive beyond the first generation?

small cpa firm revenues

Tax wise, there was nothing we weren’t confident about. We said, “All right. What can we do?” This is the core of this advice.

I appreciate the compliment and thank Steve for it. I found his article interesting and while it deals with net income, I do not feel it sets forth the true benefits of being in your own practice. You are correct about the income level of being on your own versus being an employee in a CPA for a variety of reasons. However you did not touch upon the intangible benefits of being self employed. When you control your own business, you control your own destiny. An 81st percentile firm makes roughly double my estimated profits of the median performing CPA firm.

Reasons Your Cpa Firm May Not See A Second Generation

These factors are the transaction’s terms, the number of interested buyers, the firm’s profit potential for the buyer, and the nature of the firm. They are less patient with the transition and tend to institute changes quickly. Most buyers understand they are much better off losing a client during the first year than shortly after the retention period expires. An aggressive transition can cause greater client attrition.

Small firms generally command higher multiples of revenue in sales than large firms do. Small firm deals also tend to produce higher value than internal transfers for ownership. The good news for small firm owners is that they likely will always be in position to command higher multiples than large firm owners—thanks to the supply-and-demand issues explained in this article. In addition, because large firm acquisitions tend to be at least partially in the form of a merger, the value of the acquired firm is determined at least in part by the successor firm’s owners’ agreement.

But I said, “Forget this. I don’t wanna do this. Let’s go find some way to do tax planning-type things, but in a way that adds value.” Bookkeeping software, Bookkeeping Services, Payroll, Payroll Administration, Pro-active tax planning, personal tax returns, corporate tax returns and financial administration. We landed on becoming an outsourced accounting firm for small businesses, charging a monthly retainer for a one-stop-shop service. Before I built our accounting firm, I spent a year as a retirement planner and insurance sales person at Thrivent Financial and Mass Mutual.

Small Cpa Firm Profitability

These are services clients undervalue and strive to minimize. Third, and more speculative, is accountants’ supposed aversion to risk. Whereas tech firms have to make risky bets to remain relevant in a fast-changing industry, accountants are often seen as more conservative. As any investor knows, riskier investments have higher potential upsides. Most CPAs seem comfortable with lower risk and lower returns.

  • To stay profitable, accounting firms need to reconsider the way things have always been done.
  • • Compensate retiring partners for their contributions to the firm.
  • Consider the 60-year-old sole practitioner who wants to sell her firm and work eight more years.
  • CAS CPA firms manage off an entirely different set of key performance indicators than those provided in the annual MAP.
  • When you replace a staff member, that they no longer have to hire, train, manage and potentially fire, they don’t have to deal with any of that, there’s huge economic value to that.

Having worked with just one accountant before you, they may genuinely not have imagined that your process might differ. Less time spent on a revenue generating activity means you can do more of it in the time available to you, directly raising revenue.

Documents For Your Business

Outsourcing your slow tasks will help you free up more time than outsourcing everything equally, or according to industry standard recommendations. An efficient firm is one that can perform the revenue generating services at the lowest cost. Knowing the efficiency strategies that work for you will let you reduce the number of hours you work and payroll costs, bringing down expenses and raising income. You can play around with the mix of services your firm can provide and your estimate of costs to serve that volume, to arrive at your income potential with various scenarios. Whether you decide to pursue $500k, $400k or $300k depends on your priorities, the number of hours you want to work, the number of staff members you wish to hire, train and oversee, and your market reach. The strategies below will help you reach your goal faster.