If you’re an aspiring accountant, you might also be an aspiring entrepreneur. Accountants can find success in self-employment, but there are a few things you will need before you’re ready to open your own accounting practice. Some of those things, like a college degree, professional experience and a license as a certified public accountant (CPA), are things you can work toward and earn by taking a class, participating in an internship or taking an exam. There are also characteristics that will make you more likely to succeed and skills you will need to develop.
General Accounting Characteristics
Certain characteristics are necessary to be able to perform the technical work required of accountants. For example, mathematics skills are a must for aspiring accountants. You don’t necessarily need the kind of complicated math skills involved in calculus or mathematics disciplines of that nature, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), but you do have to be comfortable working with numbers to be able to prepare financial statements and check the accuracy of reports. Likewise, accountants should have an analytical nature that allows them to detect potential inaccuracies or strategic problems and devise good solutions to these problems.
Just as accountants must possess the skills and abilities to work with numbers and create financial reports, there are also what’s called “soft skills” that are beneficial for accountants to develop. Chief among these skills is being a good communicator. To create and maintain a relationship with your clients, you must be a good listener. You must be able to not only understand and address the small-scale and immediate needs of your client, like answering questions about preparing an income tax return, but also to acknowledge and solve big-picture concerns. Solving your clients’ problems, whether they relate to personal savings or business efficiency, requires that you both know the solution and are able to articulate it to the client. The BLS also identifies characteristics like being detail-oriented and having the organizational skills to stay on top of a variety of different financial documents for numerous clients without losing or mixing up these documents as keys to success among accountants.
Being comfortable working with math and numbers affects your ability to prepare and analyze financial statements. Developing your communication skills helps you work well with clients. To succeed as an entrepreneur, though, you will need additional skills and characteristics. You must be willing to take risks and adapt to changes. You must also understand the importance of developing and sticking to a business plan and marketing yourself and your firm. Above all, you must be perseverant. There are perks to being your own boss, but you must be willing to work hard to achieve success.
Eight percent of accountants are their own bosses, according to U.S. News & World Report. With the right education, experience, credentials and of course personal characteristics, you, too, can succeed in self-employment.