James Watson has just celebrated his first anniversary of setting up in practice as an AIMS accountant. We caught up with him to find out how he’s found the first year.
Life as an AIMS accountant
How would you sum up your first year?
For me, it’s been great – and pretty much as expected after the AIMS induction. They told me what to expect and they were 100% right, but I can go into that in more detail later. I now have a good range of clients from multi-million pound turnover companies to sole traders looking for help with their self-assessment. I’ve started to get some really good reviews too, both on Google and on the AIMS Trustist page. It now feels like I have an established practice.
What were the biggest challenges?
AIMS were right in warning me to expect that the first three months would be a challenge. It’s nerve-wracking watching your savings dwindle, while all your time is going into marketing and meeting potential clients, rather than servicing actual clients. But with the AIMS knowledge-base behind me, I knew to stick with it, to be confident in my offer and to trust the process.
What benefits have you found in being part of the AIMS family?
I think AIMS adds huge value in a variety of ways. Firstly, as a sole practitioner, it’s really comforting to have access to all the start-up and ongoing marketing support – as well as technical advice, if I want a second opinion. Secondly, being part of a network means I can offer my clients additional value – if they need financial or legal advice, I can point them to an AIMS contact who I know will do a good job for them. I’ve also found it really useful having access to a tailor-made software system that is kept up to date, and as accountants across the AIMS network, we share tips on how to make best use of the resource it offers. Overall, I’d say the AIMS offer has given me the confidence to develop my practice in the knowledge that I’m offering my clients a good service.
What comes next for you?
Well, as I’m about to become a first-time father, I’m not planning any further client growth for the next couple of months. I’ll carry on working at becoming more efficient in my admin, while making sure I offer all my existing clients the best possible service. Then, when we’re settled into a routine as a new family, I’ll be able to focus on attracting and retaining more clients.
Any advice for people considering setting up a practice with AIMS?
I’d say be realistic about what you want to achieve and why you’re doing it. Running your own practice does give you flexibility, but in year one you’re not likely to be out playing golf every Tuesday afternoon. If you’re like me, there will be a huge learning curve while you spend time growing your business. I’d absolutely recommend it though: the satisfaction is immense!