Choosing to work as an independent contractor after earning your accounting degree comes with a variety of benefits to take advantage of, such as the opportunity to create your own work hours and the ability to make all the decisions in both your business and personal life. But you'll have to work hard at filling up your client roster in order to build a fulltime career as your own boss. Here are a few things you can do to help make the process of building your business easier as a new independent accountant:
Create a Strong Brand for Yourself
One of the most important things you can do to establish yourself as a strong presence within the accounting industry is to create a brand for your business. Your brand helps to establish credibility and invokes a sense of experience that current and potential customers should be able to relate to. An effective brand includes:
- A logo that tells a story about what your company is all about.
- A slogan or tagline that sums your company up in one short and catchy sentence.
- A color theme that will be used across your letterheads, products labels, price tags, and online websites.
It's important to maximize definition through the use of a consistent "tone of voice" throughout your brand. This is easily done by creating and using the same fonts, verbiage, and visual effects across the board. Try to come up with something unique that can be used throughout your branding, which sets you apart from others in the accounting industry.
Do Some Community Pro-Bono Work
Once you're ready to gain some direct experience for your portfolio, consider doing some pro-bono work for people within your community. By hosting a contest and giving away free services as the prize, you'll generate interest within your community while gaining a client that provides you with hands-on experience you can use to increase your rates as your skills grow. As your pro-bono case load grows, you should find that you naturally start to gain paying clients due to word-of-mouth advertising from those you've helped for free.
To ensure that your experience spans across a variety of accounting topics and aspects, it's a good idea to limit your pro-bono work by taking on just one or two projects that pertain to the same specific type of work. This will ensure that you gain experience in personal, corporate, and non-profit accounting tasks so that the work you do for free is always usable as a learning experience, ensuring that the projects you engage in are a win-win for both parties involved.
Invest in Continuing Education
Another great way to ensure that you get your fair share of clients in the accounting world is to create an impressive portfolio that shows off your skills, education, and commitment to being the best in the industry. In addition to including hands-on experience and proof of being a reliable service provider through client references, you can enhance your portfolio even more by investing some time and money in continuing education, which can be highlighted in your portfolio as certifications are earned.
In a continuing education program, you can expect to gain access to the latest accounting software and computer programs so you're always on top of the game as the industry evolves. With the help of continuing education, you can expect to be able to do things like create new billing and employee payroll programs for clients before they even know something new has become available. And as you learn, you'll likely have success with clarifying your goals and purpose with the accounting industry.
These ideas will not only help you to build a successful business that stands out from the competition, but they will likely increase your self-esteem and even your drive as an accountant.