This morning I talked with a CPA who was starting his own CPA practice after working for a large firm. He wanted advice on setting up his practice. I get a lot of calls from CPAs and Bookkeepers looking for advice on starting a CPA practice. I have some standard advice I usually give but, today I was thinking what  if I started a new practice today, what would I do differently based on the current software and online opportunities available to accounting professionals and small businesses.

If I started a practice today, I would focus on integration of software and online capabilities. I would limit all paper and limit all files saved locally on my computers. In today’s environment, you can work less while providing excellent service to clients. To accomplish this, it is important to rely on as few vendors as possible, preferable, one vendor that offers a suite of integrated products that work well together. Tight integration of software products is the key to saving time and avoiding errors.  Many software packages integrate with software from other vendors however, it’s usually better to stay with a single vendor, if possible.

I would select Intuit (publisher of QuickBooks) to meet my accounting and tax needs. Intuit has accounting software, writeup tools, and multiple options for tax software. I am a huge fan of QuickBooks and most of my potential clients are QuickBooks users. Below are 4 steps that I would recommend if you are interested in using Intuit products for your CPA practice:

Step 1Join the free QuickBooks ProAdvisor Program. This program provides a platform to manage your QuickBooks Online clients using QuickBooks Online Accountant. QuickBooks Online is a fast-growing segment of the market, easy to learn and easy to support clients on multiple devices such as computer, tablet or smartphone. Another advantage is that the ProAdvisor program gives you a free QuickBooks Online file you can use for your firm’s books. QuickBooks Desktop versions are also available for an additional fee.

Step 2 – Learn QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Online Accountant. For more information on QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Online Accountant, sign up for one of my QuickBooks webinars that focus on QuickBooks Online products:

Step 3 – Take the Intuit certification tests to become Certified in QuickBooks Online products. This will show others you have taken the time to really learn the software. You will also have the option to have your name listed on the Intuit website to attract new clients looking for assistance.

Step 4 – Select a tax software package that integrates with QuickBooks Online. Intuit has developed ProConnect Online which is built on the Lacerte platform to integrate seamlessly. As a QuickBooks ProAdvisor, you will receive credit for two free tax returns which you can use to determine if the software will work for you and your client base.

Many Accountants and Bookkeepers are actually limiting their practice to QuickBooks Online clients to take advantage of the tight integration and online access. Personally, I would also support QuickBooks Desktop Pro/Premier and QuickBooks Enterprise clients as well as QuickBooks Online clients to make sure I have more options for my client base.

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