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accounting strategic plan sample


Efficiency, innovation, and success: Mastering strategic planning

Running a public accounting firm is more complex than ever. Constantly evolving legislation and standards impact your organization and your clients; staff priorities have shifted from building an all-consuming career to maintaining a strong work-life balance, larger salary, and meaningful work.

In small and midsize firms in particular, younger accountants joining the business — and there are fewer of them than before — aren’t as willing to invest long hours to work their way up the ladder into the Big Boss’ chair. They’re willing to leave a smaller firm to secure those things important to them, which can create an uncertain succession when it’s time for firm leaders to retire or move on.

At the same time, client demands are changing. They expect instantaneous, digital conveniences and more consultive services. All these factors mean securing your firm’s future is becoming increasingly difficult. In answer, firms need to create an actionable strategic plan for their firm’s longevity.

A well-thought-out strategy will meet these changes head-on by addressing employee priorities, client demands, and the firm’s long-term needs. It will confront inefficiencies that impact client service, employee retention, and staff shortages. It will shape the direction of your firm, enhance communication, foster creativity, and drive action.

The strategic planning process will take time and pull you away from pressing day-to-day activities. But, not having a well-thought-out strategic plan leaves you vulnerable to being passed by your competition. You will risk losing top talent to bigger firms with deeper pockets and clients to firms that offer conveniences you don’t, such as self-service options, real-time data sharing, and ease of secure document transfer.

In other words, the cost of inaction in strategic planning is incalculable.

This white paper examines the key ingredients of an effective strategic plan and provides actionable steps to help draft your plan.

The benefits of strategic planning:

  • Establishes firm direction to drive growth and ensure the continued future of the firm.
  • Puts everybody on the same page through improved communication and collaboration.
  • Promotes creativity and innovation to meet clearly defined, ambitious goals.
  • Focuses the firm on action and implementation to meet firm goals and to provide exceptional client service.
  • Creates a shared vision for growth and prosperity that everybody can buy into.

Critical components of strategic planning

Gaining the benefits from a strategic plan starts by gathering internal historical data and analyzing marketplace conditions. For example, look at budget actuals for every audit performed. That will show how many resources you pour into each audit, determining how many audits you can take on — or how many new hires you need to reach your goals.

Take a clear-eyed, holistic view of your practice:

  • Does your pricing strategy match the value your customers get from your services?
  • What current and proposed regulations will impact your firm and your clients’ business?
  • How stable is your firm’s staffing? How’s morale among your staff? Are they happy and satisfied, or feeling overworked and underappreciated?

Determine if there are areas your firm can specialize in to stand apart from the competition, such as focusing on audits or an industry in which you have strong expertise. Consider what types of services are needed in the marketplace and what services your clients are asking for.

This deep analysis will allow you to define where you come from and where you need to go. It’ll also help you understand shifting client expectations and the changing marketplace. Then, you can define short- and long-term goals to keep up with — or ahead of — those changes.

Increasing profitability will always be at the top of any goals list. But how will you increase profitability? That’s where specialization and increased efficiencies can help.

In the long term, consider goals that drive firm growth, including staff retention. Losing employees doesn’t take much, and those defections can impact your firm’s ability to serve clients and grow. Creating efficiencies can help you retain staff because they’ll be able to do fewer data-entry tasks and more consultive work — and obtain a sought-after work-life balance.

Set objectives to get you to your goals and performance metrics that allow you to measure progress. These objectives will help you find solutions to your roadblocks — such as the right technologies to create efficiencies in your auditing process. Metrics will help you identify opportunities for improvement.

How do you bring all these components together to build your strategic plan? By following these steps.

Conduct a SWOT analysis

To understand what your firm does well now and how to improve for the future, you can undergo an assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT).

To uncover your strengths , review the types of services and audits you’ve done over the last several years. If you’re getting a lot of a specific kind of business, you’re probably doing it well. If clients are returning, you’re serving them well. You’ll see where your growth opportunities exist by uncovering what you do well and what services the market needs.

On the other hand, there are likely types of projects you’ve taken on that haven’t worked out too well. Now’s the time to get honest. There’s no reason to waste resources pursuing projects that aren’t your strength and will drain resources that could go to projects that will advance your firm.

For some firms, a weakness is pursuing projects that require more expense than they get back in revenue. Another weakness is being unable to pay staff what the bigger firms can.

Then there are the threats that you need to see coming. These include competition, pending regulations that limit capacity in this industry, and larger firms poaching your talent. Another threat is growing randomly for the sake of growth. That can lead to investing in resources that don’t bring an equal return. On the other hand, a threat could be refusing to invest because you don’t see the ROI for technology, which can have a long-term impact on your firm and its growth.

Engage stakeholders in the planning process

Each stakeholder should have input, but as the firm grows, this becomes more complex as competing priorities creep in. Ensure all the right voices are heard, but ultimately, ensure the facts and data support decisions.

Create an actionable strategic plan

Take that input and create an actionable plan that outlines steps for reaching your goals.

Implement and monitor progress

Firms should be monitoring profitability every month. Since all goals are in service to this objective, that will give you a good feel for your progress toward your strategic goals. But give it a defined period before reviewing your progress and making any course corrections. According to Bill D. Carrera, CPA, one year is a good span.

Addressing areas of concern

As you go through the strategic planning process, you’ll want to address several areas of concern. Here’s how to plan to overcome them.


Efficiency drives profitability and growth. The fewer resources you extend on a project, the greater your return on investment. Efficiencies also free up accountants for those more meaningful tasks.

In the 2023 state of the tax professionals report , efficiency is listed as the top priority for tax professionals, with 36% of respondents saying that improving efficiency is a top strategic priority, a 15% jump from 2022. Midsize firms, in particular, plan to focus on efficiency in 2023.

Improving efficiencies starts by identifying ineffective and time-consuming processes and workflows. For example, auditing processes are rife with slow manual techniques in the reporting process and file sharing.

Technology and best practices can address many of these inefficiencies. The proper software can streamline workflows and automate the tedious, ineffective steps from the beginning of the audit through the final report. Many of the respondents from the report mentioned earlier plan to use technology and automation to streamline operations and achieve greater efficiency.

An accelerating trend:

  • Thirty-three percent of firms automate up to 25% of their tax workflows
  • About one-quarter automate between 26% and 50% of their tax workflows
  • Just 29% automate more than half of all of their workflows

You can learn best practices by reading trade publications and talking with other members of trade associations. There, you can get advice — and inspiration — for improving workflows. Some best practices include better training, education of the workforce, and increased standardization. A person must be specifically designated to drive firm efficiency; without such leadership, efficiency initiatives will not likely go very far.

The growth mode

Everything you do is in service of firm growth. However, “Many firms think that just by buying other firms, they get bigger, and that adds stability. But you’ve got to focus on building a solid foundation before you think about growth,” Carrera says. “Growth for the sake of growth is not the way to go.”

Your internal analysis will help gauge whether you’re ready for growth. When you are, use your SWOT analysis to match those opportunities with your firm’s internal expertise and then use technology and automation to free your experts to work with new clients and “big-fish” projects.

Expanded service offerings can also power growth. More than 93% of respondents in the 2023 State of Tax Professionals Report said their clients seek more business advice. But half of midsize firms don’t offer the business services clients want. Only 50% provide financial planning, and even fewer (37%) said they provide decision-making support or business consulting services.

The most common business services clients are seeking from their accounting firms:

  • Tax strategy
  • Business consulting 
  • Financial planning
  • Decision-making support
  • Help with HR or organizational issues

Expanding services also means reevaluating how you price services; the by-the-hour approach may not match the value clients get from business advisory services. Because of that, more than half of the respondents in the tax professionals report already offer the most popular forms of pricing:

  • Flat fee 
  • Time based 
  • Project based

But there are even more options available, although far less common:

  • Retainer pricing
  • Market-value pricing
  • Competition-based pricing
  • Cost-plus pricing

By instituting these flexible pricing options, you ensure your staff and firm are getting revenue commensurate with the value they’re providing. You meet clients’ expanding expectations and grow your firm simultaneously.

Lack of available accounting talent

According to the Wall Street Journal , more than 300,000 accountants and auditors have left their jobs between 2020 and 2022. Relief isn’t coming in a wave of reinforcements: many college students — even accounting majors — are foregoing traditional career paths through tax and accounting firms and instead opting for higher starting salaries in banking, tech, and consulting.

As a result, 67% of respondents said recruiting new employees with the skillset and experience necessary to thrive at their firm is challenging, and almost as many said the same about training and development of existing employees.

In the face of this, many firms are turning to technology. Automation can reduce the workload for staff, but it can also be an attractive feature for potential new hires. Eliminating routine tasks allows these younger accountants to focus on those more meaningful tasks that involve human interaction and problem solving.

Technology can also facilitate remote working, providing staff with the greater work-life balance they desire. This tech also allows you to knock down geographic barriers; with remote work, you can hire the best talent from anywhere, not just the best local talent.

Technology can facilitate learning and development, another essential aspect of attracting and retaining staff.

“Another thing that staff are really interested in is, are they being developed enough? Are they receiving the training and the experience that they want? If they are merely preparing little sections of a tax return all the time, and that’s all they do, they’re probably not going to stay at your firm,” says Shaun Hunley, Tax Consultant, Tax and Accounting Professional Services at Thomson Reuters. “Finding talent is always very difficult. But retaining them is even more difficult because they do have different priorities, perhaps, than the owners do.”

Finally, firms may need to rethink salaries, retention bonuses, signing bonuses, and other compensation to lure and keep top talent.

Evolving client needs

The secret to growth and continued success isn’t much of a secret — it’s meeting clients where they are. But, as noted, client demands are changing.

“We’re seeing consultants using the tax returns to provide consulting and advisory services,” Hunley says. “What happened over the COVID era is we saw things like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). We saw the employee retention credit. We saw things that perhaps accountants didn’t traditionally deal with a few years ago. They stuck toward tax; that’s all they wanted to do, but the clients maybe pushed them a little bit more out of their comfort zone into non-tax areas. What I’m seeing with accounting firms is that they are slowly, perhaps more quickly now, moving into more of a total package approach. They’re not just tax advisors, per se. They are an advisor in many different aspects of a client’s life.”

Here, too, technology provides an answer. Proactively advising clients requires having the correct client data at hand. That relies on the client providing that data, which can be frustrating for firms.

Solutions allowing easy, instantaneous data uploading can eliminate this waiting game. By making the data flow more manageable, you’ll have more time to serve your clients better and clarify how new laws and situations will impact them.

That will mean more responsive and personalized services for clients and the data to anticipate their needs. That kind of service builds client satisfaction and loyalty, which leads to firm prosperity.

Navigating the shifting landscape

Public accounting firms are trapped in a shifting landscape as employee and client priorities and needs change. To maintain their ground or advance on the competition, firms need to evolve with it, and the best way to do that intelligently is with a well-thought-out strategic plan that can adapt as you continuously evaluate your firm, staff, and clients.

Meeting the goals laid out in that plan will require technology, such as automation of tedious, time-consuming audit data entry. By streamlining workflows, improving efficiencies, and driving innovation, technology is a catalyst for future growth and success. The result? A driving force of innovation that propels your firm towards unparalleled growth and success.

Ready to future-proof your audit practice?

Equip your firm with the necessary knowledge to navigate this transformative landscape. Watch our on-demand webcast, " 3 keys to the future of audit ," where industry experts delve into the transformative changes shaping the audit profession. In a rapidly evolving industry, client demands, regulatory shifts, and innovative technologies are redefining how firms conduct audits. Discover how to equip your practice with the tools and resources needed to navigate this changing environment.

Discover the power of Thomson Reuters Cloud Audit Suite

Discover how our Cloud Audit Suite can be the cornerstone of your strategic plan. By seamlessly automating laborious audit data entry and enhancing efficiency, you can drive innovation and set the stage for remarkable growth.

Don't just maintain your ground — soar above the competition. Explore the capabilities of Thomson Reuters Cloud Audit Suite and unlock the potential for your firm's success today.

Don't let the tides of change sweep you away — embrace the future with confidence. Begin your journey toward audit excellence today.

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Eide Bailly LLP

How to Put Strategic Accounting at the Center of Your Business Strategy

Strategic Decisions

Comprehensive financial services and strategic advice to drive growth, ensure compliance, and improve core operations.

accounting strategic plan sample

Key Takeaways

  • Accounting practices must be reviewed often to ensure the organization’s financial operations run efficiently.
  • Improving your financial operations comes easier when you take a strategic approach to your accounting.
  • Many organizations outsource to complement their team’s skill sets and knowledge and raise the level of what their organization can do.

Accounting is so much more than an administrative requirement. It’s the cornerstone of your organization’s success. And when you approach it strategically, applying the most relevant, effective technology, your accounting function can deliver timely insight into your financial operations.

A strategic approach to your financial operations will ensure you have the information needed to make data-driven decisions, the latest technology to streamline your processes, and a team with specialized accounting knowledge so you can focus on what matters – your mission.

Prioritize Strategic Accounting Practices

Accounting practices must be reviewed often to ensure the organization’s financial operations run efficiently. Every senior leader, executive director or business owner should understand the basics of accounting and have a solid strategy to ensure their accounting is up-to-date and accurate. If not, the consequences could be detrimental to the organization.

Strategic Accounting Practices Can Improve Financial Operations

Improving your financial operations comes easier when you take a strategic approach to your accounting. This will help you:

  • Gain oversight of your finances and operations, which can lead to valuable insight into your business and its future.
  • Use your financial data to evaluate risk and help avoid the time-consuming and costly consequences that can disrupt your financial operations.
  • Boost your organization’s profitability and increase its value.
  • Identify and address cash flow issues.
  • Forecast returns on investment of capital expenditures.

Consequences of Inefficient Accounting Practices

Inefficient accounting practices can easily lead to inaccuracies which may:

accounting strategic plan sample

Limit growth potential and ability to recover in the event of an economic downturn

accounting strategic plan sample

Increase stress and employee turnover in the accounting department

accounting strategic plan sample

Negatively impact or eliminate potential buy-sell transaction opportunities

accounting strategic plan sample

Create significant cash flow problems that can disrupt business operations

If your organization is not prioritizing accounting  and following best practices, it could veer off course and negatively impact critical business decisions. When an organization optimizes accounting, it optimizes its business. This means taking a strategic approach to getting ahead of disruptions, capitalizing on opportunities, and ultimately improving financial operations.

Create a Strategic Approach that Fits Your Organization

Good business decisions are born out of having the right strategy in place. Senior leaders, executive directors, and business owners can help move the strategic agenda forward when they stay involved and support the accounting department.

How to Take a Strategic Approach with Financial Operations

To create a strategic approach in your financial operations, you should:

  • Create Goals and Objectives Leaders and the accounting team should clearly understand the organization’s vision and mission before designing goals and objectives.
  • Gather and Analyze Data Gather data from the organization’s leadership team and other sources, then analyze and translate it into goals, objectives, and a tangible plan. The analysis should provide the details that will support a strategic plan.
  • Formulate a Strategy, Then Implement It After the data is analyzed, design and implement a strategic plan. Monitor and evaluate the plan to ensure it aligns with the agreed-upon goals and objectives. Refine it when needed.
  • Monitor and Evaluate the Strategy Developing a strategic approach is circular rather than linear. The data in the plan should align with the organization’s overall strategy.

Raise the Level of What Your Organization Can Do

If your organization lacks the technology, industry knowledge, market expertise or strategic foresight to achieve your vision for the future – you’re not alone. Rather than hiring internal employees or specialists, many organizations outsource to complement their team’s skill sets and knowledge and raise the level of what their organization can do.

Outsourcing is simply hiring a trusted advisor such as a consultant, freelancer, or accounting firm. These professionals can add value to your organization in either an interim or full-time capacity.

Outsourcing allows your organization to:

accounting strategic plan sample

Successfully scale quickly and strategically

accounting strategic plan sample

Plan and prepare for the future – including the unexpected

accounting strategic plan sample

Provide specialized expertise, resources, and technology

accounting strategic plan sample

Support the organization’s long-term goals

Outsourcing Specialized Accounting

Hiring an in-house accounting team is not always easy or affordable. And individuals with specialized accounting expertise can be difficult to find in an ever-changing job market. This is why some organizations choose to outsource  their accounting and finance needs.

There are many benefits for your organization to consider:

  • Access to experienced resources with the specialized accounting skills needed to save time and money for a monthly service fee
  • Hands-on accounting knowledge without going through the hiring, onboarding, and training process
  • Access to a larger talent pool of resources that know your industry and understand the needs of your unique organization
  • Access to accounting tools and technology that help increase efficiency
  • A strategic, future-focused approach to financial operations that allows you to plan for long-term success
  • Flexibility and remote services
  • Increased time and ability to better serve your customers

Is Outsourcing Accounting Right for Your Organization?

Outsourcing is a common business practice for many organizations. Many will continue to outsource far into the future and see it as a smart and strategic business option. Don’t let inefficient accounting processes or a lack of specialized financial knowledge in-house get in the way of your success.

Outsourcing with a trusted partner may be a good fit for your organization if:

  • You lack high-level accounting knowledge in-house
  • You’re unsure how to leverage technology to streamline your financial operations
  • You want to improve financial operations but don’t know where to start

Choosing a Strategic Partner That Understands Your Organization

Trusted advisors are highly knowledgeable in their field and can help guide your organization to make the right business decisions and improve finances and operations. A strategic partner can assist in developing an accounting function and proactive processes  to set your organization up for long-term success. With the latest technology, accounting data can be leveraged to make business decisions faster, increasing profits.

Outsourcing Accounting with Eide Bailly

We understand your financial needs may be ever-changing that’s why our outsourcing professionals come at all levels: chief financial officer, controller, bookkeeper, accountant, payroll, and other special projects services.

“Eide Bailly is a firm believer in the value of strategic outsourcing. The evolution of business calls for a variety of skills, knowledge, and experience. Far too often, that fast-changing environment prevents you from having the right talent at the right time. Outsourcing can align you with a partner that helps you anticipate those needs, handle those challenges, and prepare you for what’s next.” - Jenni Huotari, CPA

Our outsourcing professionals can help you improve financial operations and make strategic, data-driven decisions by leveraging technology and developing a digital strategy to assist in solving your top challenges.

  • Outsourced & Managed Services

Outsourcing core business functions can help streamline processes, eliminate inefficiencies, and improve business operations.

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  • Medical Practices
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  • Accounting & Finance

Accountants Strategic Plan Template

Accountants Strategic Plan Template

Strategic planning is the backbone of any successful accounting firm or department. It's the roadmap that guides you towards financial success and operational efficiency. And with ClickUp's Accountants Strategic Plan Template, you can create a comprehensive and actionable plan that's tailored to your specific needs.

This strategic plan template empowers you to:

  • Set clear goals and objectives for your accounting practice
  • Establish key performance indicators to measure your progress
  • Define actionable steps and initiatives to drive growth and profitability
  • Allocate resources effectively to maximize your team's productivity

Don't leave your financial success to chance. Get started with ClickUp's Accountants Strategic Plan Template and take control of your accounting firm's future today!

Benefits of Accountants Strategic Plan Template

When using the Accountants Strategic Plan Template, you can expect the following benefits:

  • Streamlined decision-making process by aligning financial goals and objectives with the overall business strategy
  • Improved financial performance through effective resource allocation and budget management
  • Increased client satisfaction by ensuring timely and accurate financial reporting and analysis
  • Enhanced risk management by identifying potential financial challenges and implementing proactive measures
  • Better communication and collaboration among accounting team members, leading to increased productivity and efficiency

Main Elements of Accountants Strategic Plan Template

ClickUp's Accountants Strategic Plan Template is designed to help accountants streamline their strategic planning process. Here are the main elements of this template:

  • Custom Statuses: Track the progress of your strategic plan with 5 different statuses, including Cancelled, Complete, In Progress, On Hold, and To Do, so you can easily manage and prioritize tasks.
  • Custom Fields: Utilize 8 custom fields, such as Duration Days, Impact, Progress, Ease of Implementation, and Team Members, to capture important information about each strategic initiative and gain insights into the overall plan.
  • Custom Views: Access 6 different views, including Progress, Gantt, Workload, Timeline, Initiatives, and Getting Started Guide, to visualize your plan, track progress, manage resources, and stay on top of key milestones.
  • Collaboration Tools: Leverage ClickUp's collaborative features, such as task assignments, comments, and file attachments, to ensure smooth communication and seamless collaboration among team members.
  • Reporting and Analytics: Use ClickUp's reporting and analytics features to gain valuable insights into your strategic plan's performance, identify bottlenecks, and make data-driven decisions.

How to Use Strategic Plan for Accountants

Creating a strategic plan for your accounting firm is essential for setting clear goals and guiding your team towards success. Follow these five steps to effectively use the Accountants Strategic Plan Template in ClickUp:

1. Assess your current situation

Before you can create a strategic plan, you need to understand your firm's current position. Evaluate your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis) to identify areas where you excel and areas that need improvement. This analysis will serve as a foundation for your strategic plan.

Use the Table view in ClickUp to create a SWOT analysis and easily track your firm's current situation.

2. Define your objectives and goals

Clearly define the objectives and goals you want to achieve with your strategic plan. Are you looking to increase client retention, expand your service offerings, or improve operational efficiency? Setting specific and measurable goals will help you stay focused and ensure that your plan aligns with your firm's vision.

Create tasks in ClickUp to outline your objectives and goals, and assign them to the relevant team members.

3. Develop strategies and action plans

Once you have set your goals, it's time to develop strategies and action plans to achieve them. Identify the key initiatives and projects that will drive your firm towards success. Break down each strategy into actionable steps, assign responsibilities, and set deadlines to keep everyone accountable.

Utilize the Gantt chart in ClickUp to visualize your strategies and action plans, and easily manage timelines and dependencies.

4. Monitor progress and make adjustments

Regularly monitor the progress of your strategic plan to ensure that you're on track towards your goals. Use ClickUp's Dashboards to get an overview of key metrics and track the performance of each initiative. If you find that certain strategies are not yielding the desired results, be prepared to make adjustments and pivot as needed.

Set up Automations in ClickUp to receive notifications and reminders for important milestones and progress updates.

5. Review and update your plan

Strategic planning is an ongoing process, and it's important to regularly review and update your plan. As market conditions change and new opportunities arise, your strategic plan should evolve to reflect these changes. Schedule periodic reviews to assess the effectiveness of your strategies and make any necessary revisions.

Use recurring tasks in ClickUp to schedule regular plan reviews and keep your team engaged in the strategic planning process.

By following these steps and utilizing ClickUp's features, you can effectively use the Accountants Strategic Plan Template to drive growth and success for your accounting firm.

add new template customization

Get Started with ClickUp’s Accountants Strategic Plan Template

Accounting teams can use the Accountants Strategic Plan Template to create and implement a comprehensive strategic plan for their firm or department.

First, hit "Add Template" to sign up for ClickUp and add the template to your Workspace. Designate the appropriate Space or location in your Workspace for this template.

Next, invite relevant team members or stakeholders to your Workspace to begin collaboration.

Now you can leverage the full potential of this template to develop a strategic plan:

  • Use the Progress View to track the progress of each strategic initiative and ensure they are on track
  • The Gantt View will help you visualize the timeline and dependencies of each action and initiative in your plan
  • Utilize the Workload View to effectively allocate resources and manage team members' workloads
  • The Timeline View provides a clear overview of the timeline and milestones of your strategic plan
  • Use the Initiatives View to define and track the specific initiatives and actions needed to achieve your goals
  • Refer to the Getting Started Guide View to find helpful instructions and tips on how to make the most of this template
  • Organize tasks into five different statuses: Cancelled, Complete, In Progress, On Hold, and To Do, to easily track the progress of each task
  • Update task statuses regularly to keep your team and stakeholders informed
  • Monitor and analyze your strategic plan to ensure maximum effectiveness and successful implementation.

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Art of Accounting: Get started with a strategic plan

Strategic plans provide a direction to accomplish what you want. I firmly believe they help many firms grow to the next level. Even if the plans propel little growth, it’s growth that might not have been accomplished had you not had the strategic plan. Growth can come without the plan, but that is settling for less than you might be capable of or destined for.

A suggested starting method for this process could be for each owner, senior manager and key admin person write down the following (I find the process of writing it down frames and identifies the issues much more clearly):

  • Where they envision (or possibly want) the practice to be in five years;
  • Whether they believe they are on that track right now and, if not, what they feel is necessary to get on that track; and,
  • After this is done, there should be a joint meeting to discuss what each person wrote and compare differences, then develop a consensus and plan to get there. 

Here is a five-step shortcut for a personal direction plan:

  • Write down where you would want to be in five years personally and professionally;
  • Write down whether you believe you are on track for each of these. If you are on track, then nothing else needs to be done;
  • If you’re not on track personally, write down what you feel is necessary to get on that track; 
  • If you’re not on track professionally, write down what you feel is necessary to get on that track; and,
  • If you’re not on track in either or both, do not share it with anyone, but you need to reflect on how you want to spend the “rest of your life,” then develop a plan to head in that direction.

[email protected] with your practice management questions or about engagements you might not be able to perform.

[email protected] .

The Internal Revenue Service would be able to implement changes to the Child Tax Credit within weeks, IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel told Congress, and send out tax refunds promptly.


Plus, LeaseCrunch offers webinar on ASC 842 basics; and other accounting technology news.


Eide Bailly appoints next CFO; HHM CPAs promotes two to partner; and more news from across the profession.

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The IRS is pushing back filing and payment deadlines for those impacted in the Great Lakes State.


Some Taxpayer Assistance Centers will be open on Feb. 24, March 16, April 13 and May 18.

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Accounting Business Plan Template

  • Written by Dave Lavinsky

How to Start an Accounting Business

Table of Contents

Accounting business plan.

Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 500 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans to start and grow their accounting firms. 

In this article, you will learn some background information on why business planning is important. Then, you will learn how to write an accounting business plan step-by-step so you can create your plan today.

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here >

What Is an Accounting Business Plan?

A business plan provides a snapshot of your accounting business as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business goals and your strategies for reaching them. It also includes market research to support your plans.

Why You Need a Business Plan for Your Accounting Firm

If you’re looking to start an accounting firm or grow your existing accounting business, you need a business plan. A business plan will help you raise funding, if needed, and plan out the growth of your accounting business to improve your chances of success. Your accounting business plan is a living document that should be updated annually as your company grows and changes.

Sources of Funding for Accounting Firms

With regards to funding, the main sources of funding for an accounting firm are personal savings, credit cards, bank loans, and angel investors. When it comes to bank loans, banks will want to review your business plan and gain confidence that you will be able to repay your loan and interest. To acquire this confidence, the loan officer will not only want to ensure that your financials are reasonable, but they will also want to see a professional plan. Such a plan will give them the confidence that you can successfully and professionally operate a business. Personal savings and bank loans are the most common funding paths for accounting firms.

Finish Your Business Plan Today!

How to write a business plan for an accounting firm.

If you want to start an accounting business or expand your current one, you need a business plan. The guide below details the necessary information for how to write each essential component of your accounting business plan.

Executive Summary

Your executive summary provides an introduction to your business plan, but it is normally the last section you write because it provides a summary of each key section of your plan.

The goal of your executive summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the kind of accounting business you are running and the status. For example, are you a startup, do you have an accounting business that you would like to grow, or are you operating an established accounting business you would like to sell? 

Next, provide an overview of each of the subsequent sections of your plan. 

  • Give a brief overv iew of the accounting industry. 
  • Discuss the type of accounting business you are operating. 
  • Detail your direct competitors. Give an overview of your target customers. 
  • Provide a snapshot of your marketing strategy. Identify the key members of your team. 
  • Offer an overview of your financial plan.

Company Overview

In your company overview, you will detail the type of accounting business you are operating.

For example, you might specialize in one of the following types of accounting firms:

  • Full Service Accounting Firm: Offers a wide range of accounting services. 
  • Bookkeeping Firm: Typically serves small business clients by maintaining their company finances. 
  • Tax Firm: Offers tax accounting services for businesses and individuals. 
  • Audit Firm: Offers auditing services for companies, organizations, and individuals. 

In addition to explaining the type of accounting business you will operate, the company overview needs to provide background on the business.

Include answers to questions such as:

  • When and why did you start the business?
  • What milestones have you achieved to date? Milestones could include the number of clients served, or the amount of revenue earned. 
  • Your legal business structure. Are you incorporated as an S-Corp? An LLC? A sole proprietorship? Explain your legal structure here.

Industry Analysis

In your industry or market analysis, you need to provide an overview of the accounting industry.

While this may seem unnecessary, it serves multiple purposes.

First, researching the accounting industry educates you. It helps you understand the market in which you are operating. 

Secondly, market research can improve your marketing strategy, particularly if your analysis identifies market trends.

The third reason is to prove to readers that you are an expert in your industry. By conducting the research and presenting it in your plan, you achieve just that.

The following questions should be answered in the industry analysis section of your accounting business plan:

  • How big is the accounting industry (in dollars)?
  • Is the market declining or increasing?
  • Who are the key competitors in the market?
  • Who are the key suppliers in the market?
  • What trends are affecting the industry?
  • What is the industry’s growth forecast over the next 5 – 10 years?
  • What is the relevant market size? That is, how big is the potential target market for your accounting business? You can extrapolate such a figure by assessing the size of the market in the entire country and then applying that figure to your local population.

Customer Analysis

The customer analysis section of your accounting business plan must detail the customers you serve and/or expect to serve.

The following are examples of customer segments: individuals, organizations, government entities, and corporations.

As you can imagine, the customer segment(s) you choose will have a great impact on the type of accounting business you operate. Clearly, individuals would respond to different marketing promotions than corporations, for example.

Try to break out your target customers in terms of their demographic and psychographic profiles. With regards to demographics, including a discussion of the ages, genders, locations, and income levels of the potential customers you seek to serve.

Psychographic profiles explain the wants and needs of your target customers. The more you can recognize and define these needs, the better you will do in attracting and retaining your customers.

Don’t you wish there was a faster, easier way to finish your business plan?

With Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template you can finish your plan in just 8 hours or less!

Competitive Analysis

Your competitive analysis should identify the indirect and direct competitors your business faces and then focus on the latter.

Direct competitors are othe r accounting firms. 

Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from that aren’t directly competing with your product or service. This includes CPAs, other accounting service providers, or bookkeeping firms. You need to mention such competition as well.

For each such competitor, provide an overview of their business and document their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you once worked at your competitors’ businesses, it will be impossible to know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key things about them such as

  • What types of customers do they serve?
  • What type of accounting business are they?
  • What is their pricing (premium, low, etc.)?
  • What are they good at?
  • What are their weaknesses?

With regards to the last two questions, think about your answers from the customers’ perspective. And don’t be afraid to ask your competitors’ customers what they like most and least about them.

The final part of your competitive analysis section is to document your areas of competitive advantage. For example:

  • Will you provide options for multiple customer segments?
  • Will you offer products or services that your competition doesn’t?
  • Will you provide better customer service?
  • Will you offer better pricing?

Think about ways you will outperform your competition and document them in this section of your plan.  

Marketing Plan

Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For a accounting business plan, your marketing strategy should include the following:

Product : In the product section, you should reiterate the type o f accounting company that you documented in your company overview. Then, detail the specific products or services you will be offering. For example, will you provide auditing services, tax accounting, bookkeeping, or risk accounting services?

Price : Document the prices you will offer and how they compare to your competitors. Essentially in the product and price sub-sections of yo ur plan, yo u are presenting the products and/or services you offer and their prices.

Place : Place refers to the site of your accounting company. Document where your company is situated and mention how the site will impact your success. For example, is your accounting business located in a busy retail district, a business district, a standalone office, or purely online? Discuss how your site might be the ideal location for your customers.

Promotions : The final part of your accounting marketing plan is where you will document how you will drive potential customers to your location(s). The following are some promotional methods you might consider:

  • Advertise in local papers, radio stations and/or magazines
  • Reach out to websites 
  • Distribute flyers
  • Engage in email marketing
  • Advertise on social media platforms
  • Improve the SEO (search engine optimization) on your website for targeted keywords

Operations Plan

While the earlier sections of your business plan explained your goals, your operations plan describes how you will meet them. Your operations plan should have two distinct sections as follows.

Everyday short-term processes include all of the tasks involved in running your accounting business, including answering calls, scheduling meetings with clients, billing and collecting payments, etc. 

Long-term goals are the milestones you hope to achieve. These could include the dates when you expect to book your Xth client, or when you hope to reach $X in revenue. It could also be when you expect to expand your accounting business to a new city.  

Management Team

To demonstrate your accounting business’ potential to succeed, a strong management team is essential. Highlight your key players’ backgrounds, emphasizing those skills and experiences that prove their ability to grow a company. 

Ideally, you and/or your team members have direct experience in managing accounting businesses. If so, highlight this experience and expertise. But also highlight any experience that you think will help your business succeed.

If your team is lacking, consider assembling an advisory board. An advisory board would include 2 to 8 individuals who would act as mentors to your business. They would help answer questions and provide strategic guidance. If needed, look for advisory board members with experience in managing an accounting business or bookkeeping firm.   

Financial Plan

Your financial plan should include your 5-year financial statement broken out both monthly or quarterly for the first year and then annually. Your financial statements include your income statement, balance s heet, and cash flow statements.

Income Statement

An income statement is more commonly called a Profit and Loss statement or P&L. It shows your revenue and then subtracts your costs to show whether you turned a profit or not.

In developing your income statement, you need to devise assumptions. For example, will you see 5 clients per day, and/or offer discounts for referrals ? And will sales grow by 2% or 10% per year? As you can imagine, your choice of assumptions will greatly impact the financial forecasts for your business. As much as possible, conduct research to try to root your assumptions in reality.

Balance Sheets

Balance sheets show your assets and liabilities. While balance sheets can include much information, try to simplify them to the key items you need to know about. For instance, if you spend $50,000 on building out your accounting business, this will not give you immediate profits. Rather it is an asset that will hopefully help you generate profits for years to come. Likewise, if a lender writes you a check for $50,000, you don’t need to pay it back immediately. Rather, that is a liability you will pay back over time.

Cash Flow Statement

Your cash flow statement will help determine how much money you need to start or grow your business, and ensure you never run out of money. What most entrepreneurs and business owners don’t realize is that you can turn a profit but run out of money and go bankrupt. 

When creating your Income Statement and Balance Sheets be sure to include several of the key costs needed in starting or growing a accounting business:

  • Cost of equipment and office supplies
  • Payroll or salaries paid to staff
  • Business insurance
  • Other start-up expenses (if you’re a new business) like legal expenses, permits, computer software, and equipment

Attach your full financial projections in the appendix of your plan along with any supporting documents that make your plan more compelling. For example, you might include your office location lease or a list of your most prominent clients.    Summary Writing a business plan for your accounting business is a worthwhile endeavor. If you follow the accounting business plan example above, by the time you are done, you will truly be an expert. You will understand the accounting industry, your competition, and your customers. You will develop a marketing strategy and will understand what it takes to launch and grow a successful accounting business.  

Accounting Business Plan Template FAQs

What is the easiest way to complete my accounting business plan.

Growthink's Ultimate Business Plan Template allows you to quickly and easily write your accounting business plan.

How Do You Start an Accounting Business?

Starting an accounting business is easy with these 14 steps:

  • Choose the Name for Your Accounting Business
  • Create Your Accounting Business Plan
  • Choose the Legal Structure for Your Accounting Business
  • Secure Startup Funding for Your Accounting Business (If Needed)
  • Secure a Location for Your Business
  • Register Your Accounting Business with the IRS
  • Open a Business Bank Account
  • Get a Business Credit Card
  • Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
  • Get Business Insurance for Your Accounting Business
  • Buy or Lease the Right Accounting Business Equipment
  • Develop Your Accounting Business Marketing Materials
  • Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Accounting Business
  • Open for Business

Don’t you wish there was a faster, easier way to finish your Accounting business plan?

  OR, Let Us Develop Your Plan For You Since 1999, Growthink has developed business plans for thousands of companies who have gone on to achieve tremendous success.   Click here to see how a Growthink business plan writer can create your business plan for you.   Other Helpful Business Plan Articles & Templates

Business Plan Template & Guide For Small Businesses

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Strategic planning

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Advances in technology are turning the business world upside down — and accounting is no exception. The paradigm shift taking place calls for radical innovation and transformation. Collaboration is the key.

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After helping their clients survive three tough years, accounting firms should look toward a post-pandemic future. Here are five areas you should explore to determine whether your firm’s business model needs transformation.

Why converting to a cloud firm can be a good exit strategy

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As activity ramps up, experts offer advice on both ends of the dealmaking.

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A top 200 firm’s plan for transitioning to next-generation leaders offers best practices for other firms to keep in mind when anticipating partner retirements.

Inflation worries and a tight labor market lead to a slight dip in optimism

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M&A activity in accounting on the rebound in 2021, expert says

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accounting strategic plan sample

The Journal of Accountancy is now completely digital. 


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Sample strategic plans, strategy is more than simply achieving business goals. it creates clarity, alignment and organization-wide engagement. we’ve assembled a handful of sample strategic plans. some are from our clients. others are just examples. all of them reflect good general guidelines and structure, which can be incorporated into your own strategy design., for profit sample strategic plans, these sample plans are based on a fictional organization. the information for our business clients is confidential..

accounting strategic plan sample

One-Page Strategic Plan

An easy-to-read, full-color overview to help everyone visualize the complete strategy.

accounting strategic plan sample

Company Strategic Plan

A summary of your strategic plan with strategic objectives, goals and action items.

accounting strategic plan sample

Department Strategic Plan

accounting strategic plan sample

Company SWOT

An assessment of your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

accounting strategic plan sample

Department Action Plan

A quick-hit summary of progress against goals and action items. Great for use at strategy reviews.

accounting strategic plan sample

Individual Action Plan

accounting strategic plan sample

Team Member Performance Review

Use this action plan as a performance review sheet for periodic staff reviews.

Non-Profit Sample Strategic Plans

These sample plans are deliverables for north slope borough school district. this is public information and is shareable..

accounting strategic plan sample

School One-Page Strategic Plan

accounting strategic plan sample

School Full Strategic Plan

accounting strategic plan sample

School Strategic Plan with Progress

accounting strategic plan sample

Church Sample Strategic Plans

accounting strategic plan sample

Church One-Page Strategic Plan

accounting strategic plan sample

Church Full Strategic Plan

accounting strategic plan sample

Church One-Click Strategic Plan

A comprehensive report from mission through action items & includes SWOT, scorecard, roadmap & budget.

accounting strategic plan sample

Church Roadmap

A summary of high-level goals broken out by year according to the dates established during goal.


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accounting strategic plan sample

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Firm Strategy and Planning

Creating a one page strategic plan.

Because strategic planning is an essential practice for growth and sustainability, PCPS teamed with Boomer Consulting, Inc. to provide CPA firms with a simple process and related tools to construct a one page strategic plan. This one page plan should act as the basis for all firm objectives, including the process of deriving recruiting and performance management goals.

Guide to Strategic Planning

Strategy and Planning Learning

The Guide is provided in three different formats. You can read the Guide with or without videos presented by the staff of Boomer Consulting, Inc. providing background as you progress through the process or you can use a PowerPoint that is designed to be used by a facilitator during the actual strategic planning session.

  • PDF with video   (To access this file you will be redirected to a webpage not hosted by AICPA. This file is large and may take time to download. It’s recommended that you save the PDF to your desktop for faster use)
  • PDF without video (This file is much smaller than the above and is probably more suited to distribute to planning session participants.)
  • PowerPoint with video   (To access this file you will be redirected to a webpage not hosted by AICPA. This file is large and may take time to download. It’s recommended that you save the PowerPoint to your desktop for faster use.)  

Related Tools

Strategy and Planning Tools

Use these tools to complete the exercises included in the above Guide to Strategic Planning.

  • Exercises   (This is a fillable PDF of all exercises and it is recommended that it be distributed to participants electronically so they have it available during the planning session.)
  • Upside Down Budget Tool (This is an Excel spreadsheet and it is recommended that it be distributed to participants electronically so they have it available during the planning session.)


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Developing your accounting firm’s plan for 2021

What do you want to achieve professionally in 2021? Do you want to grow your firm? Increase profit? Improve the effectiveness of your team and enjoy a better work-life balance?

accounting strategic plan sample

Heading into a new year is an ideal opportunity to take a brief step back from the day-to-day of running your accounting firm. It is easy to get stuck in a habit of focusing only on what’s right in front of you, particularly if you are growing firm and forced to take on many of the roles that keep the wheels spinning.

But taking a step back and looking at the big picture is essential for your long-term success. There is no better time than now to reassess where you are and map out a strategy to create the firm you want.

Step 1: Where are you now?

Before going to deep into 2021 planning, the best place to start is by looking back at 2020. Ask yourself: What went right? What went wrong? 

Did you achieve your objectives for the year? Why or why not?

As you think about the past year, you can also think about the current state of the firm as a whole. The goal of the plan is to move your firm from where it is now to where you want it to be.

Look for current areas of discomfort. This could be financially, if you feel the firm would benefit from great profit margins. Or it might be personal. If you feel you are working too many hours to keep the firm moving, next year’s plan can focus on strategies that will take some pressure off.

Think of your strategic planning like using GPS. Before you can start mapping to the destination, you need to define where you are. The first step in getting where you want to go is taking an honest assessment of where things stand today.

Step 2: Where do you want to go?

As a growth-minded accounting firm, you are probably planning to build on the success you have already achieved. As you design your plan, you can create an annual goal to make a dramatic improvement in at least one key area of the firm.

With the long-term destination figured out, you need to identify a roadmap that includes the steps to get there. Many firms are starting to implement OKRs in order to break yearly goals down into shorter-term objectives and key results (OKRs). 

Your objectives are the goals that tell you where to go. And each objective has a few key results to achieve in order to make sure you are on track.

Some rules for OKR Success

Set them annually and quarterly

Don’t have too many: Five objectives and four key results for each is a maximum per quarter, and three objectives is ideal.

Make them challenging: You should expect to hit 80% of your targets

A key result must have a number: This way you can objectively say whether you’ve achieved it or not

Here are some areas of the firm you can start to improve with an intentional annual strategy. 

Planning to improve your service in 2021

Moving into a new year is a perfect opportunity to assess the relationship you have with your clients. An effective way for accounting firms to grow is by word-of-mouth referrals. By providing an excellent experience to clients, it’s not only beneficial for the clients, but also a growth strategy. 

Business owners today are increasingly looking at compliance as a commodity. For accountants to provide a great experience, they need to provide insights for their clients . The more your firm can help clients look forward and better understand their business, the more you’ll stand out from the competition.

Planning to improve teamwork

Thriving accounting firms are able to play to the unique strengths of their team. Too often, accountants can create silos of communication and lose the power of collaboration .

As a leader, you can create time for professional development and collaborative tools to improve the team culture.

Planning to improve profitability

If your 2021 goals include planning for growth, you’ll need a way to bring in quality leads . Before thinking too much about leads, the first step is thinking about who the right clients are.

Defining your ideal client is a helpful way to increase profits. By specializing your services to suit a specific type of client, you’ll have an easier time getting clients because you’ll be speaking their language. On top of that, you’ll be able to add greater value, by providing meaningful advice catered to their industry. 

Once you’ve defined the ideal client, you can model how profitable each client is. Then you can project for the year how many of your ideal client you’d need to achieve your goals.

Once you have a vision of client growth for the year, you can break down your marketing and sales activities into quarterly and monthly tasks. 

Planning to grow personally

As you make plans for the upcoming year, it’s important to consider your own personal growth. A big part of building a healthy organization is ensuring you are getting the proper benefit and enjoyment from the work.

If there are travel plans, financial goals or hobbies you want to prioritize in the coming year, build them into your annual model.

You can approach your personal development the same way as your business’ development. Think about where you are now and what you’d like to change. Think about where you want to be 12 months from now, and what would have to change to get there.

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Departmental Strategies

Each department within the VC Finance organization develops an annual one-page strategic plan to track their objectives, goals, strategies, and initiatives for the fiscal year.

FY2020-21 Strategic Plans

  • VC Finance Division
  • Controller's Office
  • Financial Planning & Analysis
  • University Business Partnerships & Services

FY2018-19 Strategic Plans

Fy2017-18 strategic plans.

  • Capital Strategies
  • Finance & Capital Asset Strategies
  • Finance Policy & Institutional Research
  • University Partnership Program

Cloudnine Realtime

The importance of accounting practice strategic planning.

  • August 22, 2014

Sarah Gardiner

  • no comments

Guide to Accounting Practice Strategic Planning

Click for guide

With another tax season well behind us, practices I have communicated with are set to move forward with the rest of 2014 and on to the next Season. The greatest issue we have seen with many of these firms is that they are coming out of the tax season without a set plan of attack for the next twelve months. When I inquire of these firms why they don’t use accounting practice strategic planning, some of the answers were:

“We deal with issues as they arise and address them while they are fresh.” “We have Partners who don’t see the value in using strategic planning.” “We are so busy that we aren’t able to execute a good plan effectively.”

Listening to these firms, on the surface it appears that all of them are pretty solid and happy. Dig a little deeper and like every firm, they have things that need to be addressed, like succession planning, recruiting and retaining talent, technology, growth and plenty of others.

Regardless of the issues, the main concern I have for these firms is the lack of a written strategic plan that actually addresses these issues. After looking at my initial list, I narrowed it down.

Our top 5 reasons for Accounting Practice Strategic Planning

  • Accountability . It is much easier to hold the team accountable to written goals and objectives. If it is written down…you can’t hide from it!
  • Team buy-in.  If people can contribute to the planning process, they are much more likely to buy-in to the goals. Buy-in is extremely difficult to achieve if firm goals and initiatives are not written down.
  • Improved Communication.  Firms that have written plans, tend to have more open communication with their teams because they have a basis for goal setting and evaluations. Allowing team members to participate in discussions regarding the plan will increase the chances of meeting the goals on the plan. They can see what the expectations are for the firm and how they can assist in meeting them.
  • Laser focus.  A solid plan allows for firms to focus on the most pressing items without getting lost in all the extra details and fluff. The best strategic plans are to the point and focused on items that will move the team forward on difficult situations.
  • Re-energizes your team.  A strategic plan can help energize a team that may be stuck in a rut or doesn’t seem to be moving forward like they should. Great plans are built with items that will push firms to do things outside the normal comfort zones of the team. More often than not, this produces a positive boost to the team as it can pull them out of the normal routine.

There are many more reasons to have written accounting practice strategic planning in place and every firm should muster a list of several. Accounting practice strategic planning, while crucial for every good firm, shouldn’t be so demanding that it creates a gridlock to progress. Every practice should have a strategic plan that flows from its culture and vision.

Having the plan floating around inside the minds of the Partners doesn’t help the rest of the team as they work, so develop a written plan, it will be worth it.


Eric’s primary focus is on the expansion of Boomer Consulting’s major service communities and consulting services. Eric anticipates future challenges with an eye open for possibilities. 

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Accounting Firm Business Plan

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If you are planning to start a new accounting firm, the first thing you will need is a business plan. Use our sample accounting firm business plan created using Upmetrics business plan software to start writing your business plan in no time.

Before you start writing your business plan for your new accounting firm, spend as much time as you can reading through some examples of  service-related business plans .

Reading sample business plans will give you a good idea of your aim. It will also show you the different sections that different entrepreneurs include and the language they use to write about themselves and their business plans.

We have created this sample accounting firm business plan for you to get a good idea about how a perfect business plan should look and what details you will need to include in your stunning business plan.

Accounting Firm Business Plan Outline

This is the standard accounting firm business plan outline which will cover all important sections that you should include in your business plan.

  • Product and Services
  • Vision Statement
  • Mission Statement
  • Business Structure
  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Accounting and Tax Consultants
  • Admin and HR Manager
  • Marketing and Sales Executive
  • Client Service Executive / Front Desk Officer
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Market Trends
  • Target Market
  • Competitive Advantage
  • Sources of Income
  • No. of Clients v/s Revenue Chart
  • Payment Options
  • Publicity and Advertising Strategy
  • Financial Projections and Costing
  • Generating Funds/Startup Capital
  • Sustainability and Expansion Strategy

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After getting started with upmetrics , you can copy this sample business plan into your business plan and modify the required information and download your accounting firm business plan pdf and doc file. It’s the fastest and easiest way to start writing your business plan.

Download a sample accounting firm business plan

Need help writing your business plan from scratch? Here you go;  download our free accounting firm business plan pdf  to start.

It’s a modern business plan template specifically designed for your accounting firm business. Use the example business plan as a guide for writing your own.

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Upmetrics is the #1 business planning software that helps entrepreneurs and business owners create investment-ready business plans using AI. We regularly share business planning insights on our blog. Check out the Upmetrics blog for such interesting reads. Read more

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Strategic Account Planning – Process, Challenges, Solutions

Milind katti.

COO & Co-Founder, DemandFarm

What is Strategic Account Planning?

Account Planning for Strategic Accounts or Strategic Account Management  is a process of building value-driven relationships with your key customers that can help in long-term development and retention, thereby maximizing the revenue potential.

It is a synonym for Key Account Planning . The strategic account management process has always been complex. The complexities exist at all levels – thinking, documenting, presenting, planning, training, and reviewing.

Therefore, key account managers must clearly know to build strategic account planning with the best practices. Using an account planning software like DemandFarm’s Key Account Management Software  can reduce the time and effort by a mile but we’ll come to that later. Taking you through the entire process and strategies may be a bit too long for a blog. But in this one let me make the ‘thinking’ part a little easier with frameworks, directions, and principles for a phenomenal strategic account planning exercise.

According to a CSO Insights 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study, 90.6% of those surveyed said that strategic account planning was relevant to them and therefore they would do it.

Important Processes of Strategic Account Planning

1. current position.

Understand account information in terms of revenue/profitability/growth, products/services, geographic spread, and the account’s strategic initiatives and plan for the year. This is publicly available data that can be easily found so it makes no sense to not use this to analyze your client’s financial position and organizational structure.

The most relevant questions and the ones that will be unique from your competitors are questions like:

  • Which areas of your business are most important to you?
  • Where do you see yourself in two to four years?
  • Are there areas of interest that you might either reduce or grow?
  • What kinds of obstacles do you worry about?
  • What would you like to see from a prime supplier?”

Must Watch:  Jenny Smith Byers, VP Client Services at TaskUs shares their experience around building & scaling processes for Strategic Account Management.

2. Voice of Customer (VOC)

Ask any strategic account manager and they will tell you that the days are gone when the client account landscape was represented by a one-way dialogue for engaging prospects. Today, account heads are shifting their listening and response mechanisms quicker as VoC represents a huge chance for driving loyalty and increased sales.

What are the challenges, concerns, and problems clients have been talking about? How can you address those problems with the products/services of your company? This kind of insight is usually not available publicly. It involves having an in-depth discussion with customers to understand their plan and pain points which can help in new product development or even tweaking the current product to suit their strategy and requirements. The success of this depends on the quality of relationships between the client and their customers, and knowledge of both customers and your business.

3. Relationship Management

With accounts.

You can have multiple types of relationships with clients, and they can be either Tactical, Cooperative, Interdependent, or Strategic. You can use a simple weighted attribute method to arrive at one of the four. A skilled account manager uses the best practices and strategies to plan and create the account management organizational structure with an account plan and process in place. Having the right training and using certain principles increases the skill set of the manager to deal with strategic accounts .

With People

  • Sketch an organization chart with hierarchies, titles, and roles of all the contacts that matter.
  • What is also helpful is to identify your supporters/detractors/champions among those contacts.
  • Who controls what budgets?
  • Who influences whom, both positively/negatively? Why?

In order to convert deals and present your customers with a high-grade experience, you need to be informed of the positions your contacts hold within their business and their level of influence in the decision-making process.

Mapping their level of influence and their relationships within the organization can help you to concentrate your efforts on the plan appropriately. Relationship mapping helps the sales and marketing units of the business to optimize their lead generation plans and increase revenue from existing accounts. Modern technology keeps the method of creating relation maps automated. Gathering insights using modern technology can automatically keep your relationship mapping efforts up-to-date

‍ 4. Growth Opportunities

Based on the above 4 data points, identify the buying centers in the account and map which of your products/services is consumed in which buying centers. Understanding Buying Centers can help key account managers in strategic account planning and innovation. The Buying Center is a 40-year-old concept associated with Webster and Wind and can be hugely useful. The Buying Center is a part of the organization that involves a bunch of executives who have varying influence on the B2B buy decision. Performing a complete buying center analysis is an essential first step to help key account planning managers understand which messages and tactics best convey the value of their products.

That can give you an idea of two types of growth areas:

Mining Growth

Finding out which of the existing projects/contracts/business can grow this year is where mining can happen.

Farming Growth

What are the new opportunities that can be explored this year in your strategic account management process? That’s where farming growth comes in! All this can allow you to set yourself a revenue goal for the year.

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Strategic account plan template – action plan.

To achieve the goal, list down action items, specific activities, monthly plan, and the support required along with timelines. We are a firm believer in keeping the key account management process simple yet powerful. Over-analysis can lead to paralysis so keep it short and simple. I would emphasize more action items and numbers, and less on theory.

In today’s dynamic business world, we would also change the plan if there are any dramatic changes in the situation changes. Don’t constrain yourself by a rigid plan, make changes and roll with the punches. Although they seem small, it’s the doing and the duties you accomplish that will ultimately get you to your goals. Even when your goal seems far off on the horizon, if you stay true to your action plan and perform your daily tasks following the key elements, success is inevitable.

7 Big Challenges Faced by Strategic Account Managers

Once the managers start practicing the account plans, they realize the real-world problems or rather, challenges that they must face while creating strategic account plans. Let’s take a good look at the 7 Big Challenges faced while creating strategic account plans . Where did we get this top secret information? Straight from the managers themselves and their organizations, of course!

1. The eternal tug-of-war between short-term and long-term

Even when the organization has made a policy decision to have a Strategic Account Management cell for Key Accounts or Strategic Accounts , some managers may find it difficult to choose between the short term and long term. Many times, the short-term wins as it is more achievable and managers often feel a quick sense of accomplishment.

That’s exactly where the challenge lies; to choose the long-term over the short-term when the situation so demands. It isn’t enough for managers to hit short-term goals and give themselves the pat on the back, it is integral to concentrate on strategic account plan goals like maximization of customer lifetime value too!

2. Having access to an effective strategic planning tool

Strategic account management needs more work than normal accounts and hence better tools and templates. Although strategic account plans are about building key relationships and nurturing them, this process does need to be automated. There are various strategic planning templates available that help managers in planning and managing their strategic accounts well.

But having access to a suitable tool that is specifically designed for strategic account plans may be a challenge, to begin with. Challenges of strategic account management can be overcome by ensuring the account planning tool is made a part of the responsibility of the strategic management team and the leadership.

Case Study: Healthcare Industry Company Boosts Strategic Account Revenue by 30%

3. having a good relationship with all key customers (other than that one key customer) within each strategic account.

It’s not enough to have a good relationship with just one key person within one Strategic Account. People move from one organization to another. Strategic Account Managers cannot afford to put all their eggs in one basket and need to form good relationships with other key people within the Strategic Account.

This ensures that a great account isn’t lost, simply because the biggest influencer left the organization. A dynamic Org Chart can be extremely helpful to ensure that Strategic Account Managers know exactly where the influencers and detractors lie in an organizational hierarchy.

4. Interacting with enterprise-level organizations and key buyers at the top level

Sales Account Planning requires a CXO-level management involvement with any client. This bottleneck may arise due to a lack of training. This is very easily rectified with proper recruitments, training, and a top-down approach to Strategic Account Management.

5. The actual implementation of the Strategic Account Plans

Strategic Account Plans will remain so unless they’re put into action by a motivated Strategic Account Manager. The biggest detriment of a Strategic Account Plan is actually its implementation and thus it must be taken into account during creation.

6. Formulating a fair and comprehensive compensation policy for Strategic Account Managers

Since the conversion in a Strategic Account happens over a period, incentive planning and compensation for Strategic Account Managers cannot be the same as your Sales team, yet needs to be fair. Proper metrics need to be defined and implemented, which is a major HR challenge. It will keep evolving over time and will vary from organization to organization.

7. Training and skills in Strategic Account Management

What kind of training and skill sets do Strategic Account Managers need to acquire and how frequently do they need to be trained, is often the question. It’s a crucial decision that leadership needs to take, as it is not a good idea to take chances with the capabilities and delivery of the Strategic Account Managers . We are certain there are many more such challenges beyond the seven mentioned here.

What is essential to this subject is the fact that the Top Challenges for high performers do differ from the Top Challenges of the average performer. Average performers are more concerned about the most fundamental challenges that are lower in the challenges hierarchy, such as ‘having access to an effective strategic account planning tool’ and ‘the tussle between short term and long term goals’.

On the other hand, high performers would be more concerned about challenges such as ‘fair compensation policy for strategic account managers based on sales results’ and ‘effective ways of building and communicating value’.

Let’s conclude with what McKinsey says , “It’s not surprising to learn that those who use an analytic approach achieve up to 10 percent sales growth, up to 5 percent higher return on sales, and a margin uplift of 1 to 2 percent.”

Ready to discuss your Account Management Needs?

Talk to our product expert, related posts.

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About The Author

Milind is the COO & Co-Founder of DemandFarm. He co-founded DemandFarm to build smart software technology to bring Account Planning and Relationship Intelligence into your CRM, making Key Account Management data-driven, predictable and scalable.Milind has close to 25 years of experience in sales & marketing. He is an Electronics & Communication Engineer with MBA in Marketing. He enjoys long-distance running, loves reading history, and above all else, he is a humanist.

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    Accounting practice strategic planning, while crucial for every good firm, shouldn't be so demanding that it creates a gridlock to progress. Every practice should have a strategic plan that flows from its culture and vision. Having the plan floating around inside the minds of the Partners doesn't help the rest of the team as they work, so ...

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