I am often asked “Will I be able to start an accountancy practice as well as doing a full time job?”
The answer I give to this is that if you are serious about having your own accountancy practice then it is not a spare time hobby but a real job, career and more importantly a life decision. You are talking about setting up your own business after all.
Of course some preparatory work can be done in your spare time prior to fully launching your accountancy practice. Let’s explore what can be done.
Start by mapping out your week …
Monday to Sunday – 24 hours a day
Add in time already allocated; tackle the easy bits first:
- How many hours do you sleep? – be realistic and allow at least 7 to 8 hours /day
- How long do you spend performing domestic tasks such as personal care, cooking, house work, shopping, general chores etc? Realistically this is likely to be at least in the region of 1 – 3 hours /day
- What are your working hours? Don’t forget to include overtime whether paid or unpaid.
- How much time do you spend commuting to and from work?
- If you have children, include time for child care and family time.
- Also include timeout for hobbies, going to the gym and generally relaxing – we all need to do that!
Having answered these basic questions you should be able to map out a day.
It is likely that your week days will look different to the weekend days when you may have a bit more free time.
So how much free time do you actually have to devote to your accountancy practice?
I expect that if you are entirely realistic then, whilst holding down a full time job and leading a normal life, the spare time available for your accountancy practice will be VERY limited. Given this limitation on your time it is essential to develop a robust work plan so that you can at least start to get your accountancy practice off of the ground.
The work plan should identify the tasks that you are going to fit into each available slot. Focus on the essential start up tasks such as your regulatory duties e.g. Practising certificate, Money Laundering and Information Commissioner Registration, developing your marketing plan, getting all administration and operations documentation in place such as standard terms of business, letters of engagement and so on.
The preparatory list is not insignificant and should run to many hours of work to do before you can even consider taking on your first client.
Still convinced that you can run an accountancy practice in your spare time … well before you even think about converting a prospect to a client you will need to address practical issues such as does your available time coincide with the time that clients will be available for you to talk to them?
For example if you have two hours available during the week which are between 8pm and 10pm each day, will you be able to arrange client meetings, telephone conversation etc with them at that time?
There can of course be answers to such practical issues but to ignore them is fool hardy and can lead to a loss of a prospect’s interest, client retention issues and a bad reputation being developed before you even start.
Starting a Practice in your spare time is an enormous challenge
I have seen very few people that have managed to hold down and full time job and to do this properly; for most in this situation their accountancy practice never develops into anything other than a wishful hobby earning little more than “pin money”.
If you are serious about starting a practice then you need to carefully plan your transition from the preparatory tasks during your spare time to at least a part time and later full time business owner running an accountancy practice.
Otherwise it’s just a nice hobby to have!