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A Whistle-Stop Guide to Starting Your Own CPA Firm

Feb 22, 2023

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Money makes the world go round; however, money management is often tedious and time-consuming, which is why a lot of people prefer to offload this to an accountant. This means that many accountancy firms are already poised for success with the right strategies and policies. Starting your own CPA firm is not necessarily going to be easy, but this whist-stop guide can help to give you an overview of your next steps.

Accreditation & Certification

First things first, you need to understand the industry and its requirements. CPA firms tend to offer a number of services, including tax prep, audits, bookkeeping, payroll processing, financial statement preparation, budget development and financial advice. In order to open a CPA firm and offer these services, you need to be accredited and certified to do so. This means passing the relevant exams. Until you have done so, you cannot progress any further.

Market Research & Business Plan

After you have acquired the necessary qualifications, you should then begin to conduct the necessary research. You need to determine whether opening your own firm is a viable and realistic choice or if it would be better to go and work under someone else at another firm. You will need to work out the logistics and the demographics, so bear that in mind. Think about who your target audience will be and whether you will be able to appeal to them.

Your market research is likely to be integral to developing your business plan. This formal document will need to outline your vision and the mechanics of how it will all work. It should be as detailed as possible without being overly long or technical. This is because it will likely be needed when it comes to registering your business and securing any funding that you might need too.

The Legal Bits

Before you can progress any further with your plan to start your own CPA firm, you need to first decide which legal entity will be the most suitable for your business. There are three options: corporation, sole proprietorship, and general partnership. However, within these three, there are a few variations, including an LLC, LLP, or S Corp. Your choice will depend on your preferences and your personal and professional circumstances too.

Once you have done this, you can then move on to securing the other necessary legal documents. As a minimum, you will need a preparer tax identification number, a business licence to operate and insurance for CPA like the policy provided by The Hartford. The rest will largely depend on the services that you plan to offer and the clientele that you plan to work with, and whether this is individuals or businesses.

The Takeaway

Obviously, starting your own CPA firm is a little more involved than the steps outlined above, but as the title states, this is a whistle-stop tour. The above points represent the most important and immovable steps to starting your own firm.

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The rest can be customized to your business and is likely to include things like a cost breakdown, hunting for the right location and securing enough capital to get started.

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