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The Ten Commandments Of Florida CPA Firm

A decade of decreasing enrollment in college accounting applications throughout the 1990s along with the new financial reporting and internal control demands that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act created for publicly traded companies have abandoned CPAs at a seller's market. As an industry, midtier accounting firms as well as the Big Four scramble to meet the new hires, the needs of smaller businesses have, oftentimes, taken a backseat--and also these clients want help sooner rather than later.
"There's a lot of low-hanging fruit on the market, including great customers a number of the larger firms do not desire," says CPA Chris Echols of Montgomery, Ala., that purchased a solo practice and relaunched it as Chris Echols & Associates in December 2002. "With the shortage of the larger firms gobbling them up at good salaries, you don't find as many people heading out on their own."

WHY BUCK THE TREND?


CPAs who've made the leap to self-employment cite many different factors. For Jonathan Tannenbaum of Levittown, N.Y., it was the culmination of a lifelong dream of running his own business. For Jelena Black of La Palma, Calif., it was a opportunity to balance her profession and family on her own conditions. "It is not always easier than working for somebody else," says Echols, "however it is more rewarding. You're building something --for yourself and to your children."
Beginning your own CPA practice requires much more than accounting expertise. That's a surprise to some budding entrepreneurs. "In college, I was told that all you had to be a good technical man and you had been set in this discipline," says Kober, who exerted his job as corporate controller for a group of nursing homes because of his own practice in 1997. "However, as an owner, you have to know a lot more than that."

Most of the must-do start-up activities are just like for any small company. You need to research your local market to assess the chances, decide which solutions to offer, choose the legal form your business will take, locate and provide an office, purchase the essential insurance to safeguard against unforeseen obligations and attract clients (see " Tips From Six Who Made the Leap ").
In addition, remember that regulation has intensified in a number of practice specialties. Depending upon the specific services you intend to offer, take extra care to check with state and national rule-making bodies and professional institutions such as the country societies and the AICPA to ascertain which requirements will apply to you or your company. For example, some personal financial advisory services need registering with the SEC or state securities departments, while certain attestation services require enrollment in an AICPA-approved peer evaluation BCGR Financial program to keep Institute membership.
Before launch Hall and Co.. CPAs in the autumn of 2004 Martha Hall produced a business program. But she found her historyseven years in public accounting and another 15-plus in corporate finance for several Silicon Valley firms--was wider than that of most of her competitors.
She targeted her marketing campaigns at larger companies 45 to 60 miles off from Cleveland and Youngstown, Ohio, and Erie, Pa.. Hall differentiated herself by offering not just annual compilation and tax work but also tactical planning solutions.
"A great deal of my practice relies on helping businesses reorganize and turn themselves around," she says.
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