Working as a sole practitioner in accounting – managing the pros and cons

April 21st 2023 | Posted by Phil Scott

Accounting sole practitioners do not work in exactly the same way as each other; nor do they have identical experiences.

However, there are steps that all sole practitioners can take to manage the positives and negatives of choosing to work in this way rather than joining an accounting firm.

We are going to look at the most vital of these steps, including developing a network, keeping on top of continuing professional development (CPD), and ensuring support plans are in place. Keep reading to reveal more about each of these areas.

Developing and maintaining a network

No matter which profession is involved networking is a valuable tool. It helps with the development of knowledge, the sharing of valuable experience, and the consolidation of industry connections. For accounting professionals working as sole practitioners, it’s not only valuable but also an essential aspect of dealing with one of the potential cons of this type of work, the feeling of isolation.

This feeling is common among accounting professionals who work alone and have limited contact outside of their client base. Creating a network in the industry helps to overcome this feeling by providing opportunities for connection and interaction.

Having a network also provides other benefits including:

  • Access to a breadth of knowledge and experience
  • Connections with industry experts who clients can be referred to
  • Links to likeminded people to discuss issues and ideas with

Engaging with continuing professional development (CPD)

Every forward-thinking accounting professional understands the value of CPD. For sole practitioners, engaging with CPD is even more important as they have to rely on their own knowledge and skills to provide the best possible service to clients. Having to do this could be a disadvantage of choosing to be a sole practitioner if CPD is not given sufficient focus.

Within CPD, different learning methodologies exist, to suit various learning styles and requirements. These methodologies include seminars, workshops, and online courses. Participating in any of these educational activities allows sole practitioners to keep their knowledge and industry insights up to date. Being able to do this is vital to individuals who do not have the knowledge of other members of a firm to rely on.

Ensuring support plans are in place

Working alone is advantageous for sole practitioners in accounting as they so not have the wider considerations of a firm of people to account for when making business plans. Costs, such as those for business premises, are also usually less expensive. However, not having other members as a back up for absences or unexpected situations can be a distinct disadvantage.

To mitigate this, the most successful sole practitioners have an alternate in place. This alternate is available to fill in for them should they be unavailable to clients for any reason. Taking time to put these support plans in place means that clients are never disadvantaged, and the practitioner’s good reputation remains intact.

Taking these steps allows sole practitioners in accounting to overcome challenges such as a lack of access to the support and knowledge of an entire firm. They are able to acquire backup, insights, and connections elsewhere that benefit them and their client base.

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