Business ideas for accountants

Accountants – you need some new business ideas and income streams. I’m amazed that accountants don’t offer a wider range of services and earn more money.

Most accountants offer help for businesses or individuals to make sure that they’re compliant with laws about tax returns and help with their bookkeeping.  Boring. I think there are lots of other business ideas for accountants to offer.

Why these business ideas for accountants are important

Most businesses don’t really understand the numbers that they get from their accountants, and they only look at them once a year. This makes me crazy when I see clients doing it. The annual return information from accountants is usually out of date as it’s done months later for the tax deadlines.

Wouldn’t it be nice if your firm offered a simple version of what the big firms offer and help with management accounting?

I particularly like this idea because you can offer it as an upsell to your existing customer base. It can be offered as a subscription service. Recurring revenue products like this add very nicely to your profits.

How this additional income stream business idea for accountants works

Many accountants see management accounting as a very full-on service, needing lots of resources to do the job properly. I’m not sure that this is true. For small and medium-sized businesses, most people just need their accounts to be up-to-date (which they can do themselves or through your existing bookkeeping service) and for somebody to give them a report once a quarter.

So I suggest that you build a templated report, then cut and paste the information from the client’s accounts into that report. You’d need to write it in plain English so that the business owner can understand it easily. It would likely take a couple of days’ work to build the report the first time, and then you could get a junior member of staff to fill it out for each company.

Have a think about the things that would be most useful for your average business owner to understand, what’s going to be really useful for their business.  Things like a graph showing the increase in sales matched with the increase in profits (or vice-versa), commentary on the increase or decrease in debtors might be worth pointing out.

You might want to have a paragraph at the end which gives an overall commentary on the financial health of the business, pointing out any warnings they might need to look at, such as liquidity or cash flow issues, or just congratulating them on doing well.

Try this idea on a dozen people first

You can trial this business idea on a dozen existing customers for free and see what the response is. Make sure that you tell people that this is a pilot and they’re getting a free beta version that is chargeable later. We don’t want your beta testers to get used to it and then get annoyed when you ask them for money later.

Then launch it as a paid service, put it on your website with a button they can press to subscribe and send out an email to all your existing customers. I think small businesses would welcome this once a quarter, and they might pay around £250 – £350 a year for the service.

Because you are using the template and you’ve already got access to your customers’ accounts, it would not take long to produce each report and add a personalised element to it. You wouldn’t need a managing partner to do this kind of work.

If you get a hundred people to sign up, that’s a nice extra £25 – 35K per year to add to your billing, with very few additional resources. Accountants – test out this business idea and let me know how you get on.

How much does this cost to get going?

You don’t need new staff or special software. The template can be developed in-house, so there’s not really a cost to getting this going.

My advice would be to avoid using a completely software-driven approach here. I’ve seen some of the automated reports coming from accountants, and they are not much use because they overuse accounting terms that business owners often don’t understand.  To get your clients to pay you an extra amount of money for this, you’d need to make sure that this was a “Service with a Software” business idea which was truly useful and valuable for the client. That means using the same natural language as your clients use and phrasing the report so they can understand it.

Who is this good for?

This simple business idea for accountants would be a lovely upsell for any firm, whether you’re a sole-person practice or a 30+-person firm. As well as the additional revenue, providing this service could be a good differentiator for your company, helping you to attract new customers.

What’s the trick to making this work?

I wonder if the reason why most accountancy firms don’t add in upsells is because they’re busy concentrating on the work that they have on hand. So the trick with this business idea is for an accountant to treat it as a distinct project and give it a champion. One person is responsible for making it happen across the company. This person writes the template, does the pilots, and sets up the emails and the sign-up form on the website, and gets the credit when the new money comes into the company.

How much money would I make?

This is an upsell, an additional recurring revenue product, rather than a whole business in itself. But that £25-35k (or more) is recurring income that you wouldn’t have had without this. And that probably represents the same income as about 20 new clients. Launching this seems like an easier way of increasing billing than having to bring in 20 new clients.

More product-based business ideas for accountants and business owners

As well as tons of tips, guides and ideas for accountants and business owners, I also run Adventures in Products, focussing on how to pivot to productised services and product-based businesses.

Adventures in Products


Photo credit – Anssi Koskinen

52 ways to find your gap in the market

It's not easy to find the right gap in the market for your next business. That's why I've written this free guide to how to identify a gap in the market, with lots of ideas for areas where you can build a viable business
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The Joy of Business
52 Ways to Find Your Gap in the Market
Julia Chanteray