Finding the Perfect Partner for Your Accounting Firm
You’re growing. It’s getting to the point of needing someone to help gain more clients and ensure the quality of work leaving your firm. But you don’t need another bookkeeper.
No, it’s gotta be someone to take ownership, really drive results. Almost…like another…you. I need to bring a partner onboard to my accounting firm!
Had these thoughts recently?
If so, it could be about the time to bring on a partner in your accounting business. Of course, the moment you utter those words the mind begins to think about the ramifications.
- What do I offer a partner?
- Will they try to significantly change my business?
- How can I make sure they help us grow?
And perhaps the biggest question: How do I find the perfect partner?
Well, let’s get into it!
Begin by Looking Where You Know
So, there’s really no website that brings together accounting firm owners and qualified partners. Honestly, we couldn’t even find another piece of content about helping owners do it themselves!
So, the best way? Talk with people you know, or have heard of and get a feel for what they can do for your firm (and what you can do for them).
Pull Out the Rolodex
Accountants know accountants. You may have also come across others in your networking career (marketing professionals and so on).
The best part about networking is that usually the people you connect with network, too. So, your circle expands by contacting those closest to you. For example, you contact a colleague who owns another firm.
Maybe they say one of a few things including:
- “You know, I’ve been thinking about the same thing. What did you have in mind?”
- “I’m actually thinking about going solo, again. Handling a team isn’t for me, but I didn’t want to let down my right-hand CPA. They’ve brought on clients, handle things great. You want to chat with them?”
- “So and so reached out to me wondering if I was looking for a partner. Told her ‘not now,’ but I’ll reach out and introduce you two.”
Of course, not everyone in your proverbial rolodex is going to react like the above examples. But all you need is one, right?
Look at Your Current Team
Ok, ok. If you’re here, it’s likely you’ve thought about your team and came away thinking no one on the current roster is up for partnership.
If that’s the case, you may want to hire someone with partner potential. In fact, when you contact your network, maybe it’s for a new hire (at first). A bustling and small company needs to hire people who are:
- Quick learners who require limited supervision
- People who bring ideas to the table
- Even those with a bit of entrepreneurial spirit (because they’re typically self-motivated)
Add these features to someone who crunches numbers as well as the rest — and you’ve got a partner-in-training (don’t think of the acronym and just go with it).
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Bonus benefit: Hiring a go-getter and allowing them to grow into the company saves the potential of having an outside partner come in and be a nightmare by trying to shake things up.
Search for Small Firms
You know a heavily-searched term on Google’s search engine? All sorts of words and phrases dealing with buying another accounting firm.
Right now, firms (like yours) are trying to buy…Clients? Sure, but probably trying to find accountants, too. For every firm owner looking for a partner, there is likely (at least) one firm owner struggling to keep things moving.
No, this isn’t a hostile takeover!
Think of it this way. If you’re looking to keep things running smoothly, and another firm is falling behind — No one benefits by staying idle.
A couple of options in these scenarios:
- Buy out the firm (although, if you’re already too big for one leader, this would be difficult without another strong supervisor)
- See if the firm owner wants to partner with you (only do this if the person runs the operation well, but doesn’t gain clients easily. If they have trouble managing their practice, you’ll be adding problems.)
Next, Get Your Firm as Organized as Possible
Before you bring on a partner, you’ll need everything in order. The better you have your business laid out, the fewer issues your new partner will have onboarding. Plus, it’ll give the firm message: This is how things are done (although, ideas welcome).
Three Areas to Organize (STAT)
- All tasks related to your firm’s services and other processes: Take your services (month-end close, payroll, etc.) and list out the tasks in each service. Having this will help your partner ensure work is top-notch. Also do this for other processes (i.e. hiring, offboarding, etc.)
- Hunt down bottlenecks like it’s your job: Once you have the services listed out, it’s time to find out why you’re so busy! Chances are these are the areas you’ll want the partner to help with, right away.
- Understand the capacity of your team: If you don’t know what your team can do, the partner surely won’t. Use a tool, like Jetpack Workflow, to determine who’s struggling with tasks and who’s doing really well (those doing well could be a partner, too).
Good Luck On Your Partner-Finding Journey!
At the end of the day, only you can choose your partner. Hopefully, this article pointed you in a few directions you hadn’t thought about yet. And if you’re ready to get your firm’s workflow down, we know a bit about that.
Interested? You can check out our full workflow software buying guide (with detailed reviews of nearly a dozen solutions) right here.