As an accountant or tax professional, you’re well-versed in helping your clients set and achieve financial goals. You’ve helped them analyze their current situations and develop attainable, concrete goals that might grow their wealth, reduce unnecessary expenses, or better track cash flow.
But what goals do you have for your own business? If you’re looking to grow your tax and accounting firm, it’s important to set clear, definable goals that will get you where you want to go. Goals can give your firm direction, inspire you and each member of your team, and boost the efficiency and profits of your firm.
Goals can also be intimidating. Maybe you’re afraid that if you set a clear goal, you’ll fail to reach it. You might feel any goal you’d set for your accounting or tax firm would be too challenging. It’s possible that you’re feeling pretty comfortable with the status quo and don’t want to fix what isn’t broken.
If fear, intimidation, or a lack of motivation is stopping you from setting goals to grow your firm, you can use that to your advantage. Setting goals has been proven to be effective and result in higher achievement. Whether you want to find more clients, increase your profits, hire more employees, shift your accounting firm to operate virtually, or find and utilize tools that will simplify or automate parts of your work, setting attainable goals is the answer.
Where do you start? What goals should you set as an accountant or tax professional? Take a look at our advice on how to set goals that grow your accounting firm and apply these principles to the results you want from your business.
Setting Short-Term Goals for Your Accounting Firm
Goal Period: 1-12 months
The best way to start setting attainable goals for your accounting firm might be to start small - or short. Our brains are wired to appreciate and seek instant gratification. It’s one reason so many of us find it difficult to set a long-term goal and stick with it. Setting short-term goals can allow you to see your progress happening in measurable ways. Seeing your progress toward a goal encourages you to continue on and increases your chances of success.
Because short-term goals are set with the intention of achieving them within 12 months, it won’t take long to see your progress if you’re steadily working toward them.
Short-term goals for your accounting firm might be:
Learning how to use new accounting software or tools to boost your efficiency
Transitioning into new hours at work to improve your work-life balance
Preparing to move your operations online to become a virtual firm
Finding a certain number of new clients
Finding a niche and marketing your firm to that audience
Expanding your network online or in person
No one knows your firm better than you, so the short-term goals you set might look wildly different from these examples. No matter what goals you choose to set for your accounting firm, make sure you properly record and track your progress toward your goals. We’ll talk about this below.
Setting Long-Term Goals for Your Accounting Firm
Goal Period: 12 months+
To make the biggest impact on your accounting firm, you’ll want to set a mix of short- and long-term goals. Long-term goals look further ahead to your firm’s future, at least 12 months or more.
When you set your long-term goals, think about what kind of result you’re hoping for. What do you want to change, improve, or get rid of? You might want to earn your CPA or CMA. Maybe you’d like to eventually bring on 5-10 more accountants, or you want to earn a specific amount of money each year.
Take your desired result and make it S.M.A.R.T.: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. We’ll use an earnings goal as an example.
Don’t just say you want to earn more money or enough to live comfortably. Put a Specific number on it.
Come up with ways you can accurately measure your progress toward the goal. In this case, your accountancy hourly rate or your yearly income is easily Measurable.
Set an earnings goal that is Attainable and within your reach. Do you have an expanding client base or a plan to get the amount of income you want?
Be Realistic with your goal. Expecting a 500% increase in income won’t be realistic for most.
Make sure your goal is Time-Bound by putting a deadline on it, like 5 years. Even better, track your progress monthly and set benchmarks you need to meet to achieve the goal.
Achieving Your Accounting Firm Goals
Give yourself a head start by writing your S.M.A.R.T. goals for your firm down and making a serious plan to achieve them. You’re 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you take the simple step of recording them on paper along with the steps you’ll need to take to achieve them.
To illustrate: Just 13% of 1979 Harvard MBA graduates set career goals; 3% actually wrote their goals down and made plans to accomplish them. Ten years later (1989), the 13% with goals were earning 2X as much as the graduates without goals. But the real wow factor comes from the 3% who wrote down their goals and made plans to achieve them. In the same amount of time, the 3% were earning 10X more than the other 97% of graduates
Another study found that people who wrote down their goals, a plan of action, and tracked weekly progress with a friend achieved their goals 76% of the time. Compare that to those who did not write their goals or action plans - only 43% achieved their goals.
It’s clear that the most successful goal-setters write their goals down and are serious about achieving them. Achieving your goals that will grow your accounting firm is simple:
Write down your short- and long-term goals and post them somewhere visible
Tell others at your firm about your goals for accountability and cooperation
Create a working plan of action for each step of the way
Track your accounting firm’s progress along the way
Celebrate success when you and your firm achieve your goal
By setting and writing down clear, S.M.A.R.T. goals that reflect your desires for your accounting firm, you can grow your firm with short- and long-term goals that keep you motivated, engaged, and always progressing.