I believe that in 2020, small and solo accounting practices are looking for more. More from their practice. More from their life.

Many on their practice journey for some time, are despondent. It hasn’t exactly been what they signed up for. Through hard times, they reassured themselves practice life would get easier. The reality is, they’re working longer hours with diminished profits and more demanding clients. A work/life balance seems so elusive.

Those just starting out, have a strong desire for a work-life balance so their challenge is around designing a practice that achieves this and it’s non-negotiable.

Here’s a selection of the shifts I’m predicting in 2020.

Reassessing Goals, Ambitions and Purpose
Every day we wake to news of another tragic event. We read on our social media feeds the feelings of grief from those left behind. Sadly, some of us are the people left behind. Consciously or subconsciously, it’s forcing us to put our own life into perspective. There’s a growing trend to commit to a life with more purpose. In my coaching, my first task is to help people articulate their vision for their practice and their life. It provides the foundation for everything and is the key to designing or redesigning a contemporary accounting practice.

Selective Client Bases
Some practices choose to niche industries however a growing trend is to select clients based on values. I’m seeing more confidence in not accepting everyone who walks through the door and more courage to move clients on when things aren’t working.

The result is loyal clients that are enjoyable to work with who tend to be better referrers also. Getting this mix right is so liberating. It creates harmonious workplaces with less stress, better profits and gives freedom and flexibility

Embracing Automation and Technology
The subscription model is opening up the benefits of technology to small and solo small firms. Whilst still a little resistance, I believe we will see an increased adoption in 2020 with FOMO (fear of missing out), greater education and awareness and a motivation to streamline systems and processes to achieve improved efficiency and profitability

No More Struggling in Silence
Starting my practice in 1999 from my home office, guidance amounted to occasionally picking up the phone to a trusted mentor or working things out by trial and error. Today, supportive groups on social media including my own community The Balanced Firm provides safe and non-judgmental spaces to seek this.

There’s also an openness and acceptance of engaging a coach or mentor to help navigate and fast track success.

Be Proud of your Path
Whether you are a practice owner starting out, scaling back or scaling up, my advice is to do this in a way that’s totally aligned to your own values and vision.

Create your own path in practice and in life, not the one expected of you by others. This will ultimately ensure you are living and working on purpose and “on trend” in 2020!

This article first appeared in the Accountancy Insurance March 2020 newsletter.