Accounting Firms for Sale: Finding the Right One for You

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Purchasing accounting firms for sale can be a great business decision for those who wish to grow their client base or expand to a new area. Many people sell their CPA practice when they retire or move to a new area, which means there is an opportunity to jump into an existing business and make an immediate impact. Buying an established firm helps you hit the ground running without having to worry about starting a business from the ground up.

An existing firm already has office space, clients, and even employees, which allows you to focus on the big picture and start right away. Purchasing an existing accounting firm also tends to come with less risk than starting a firm from scratch because it already has revenue and established business. That’s not to say you can’t still put your own personal stamp on an existing CPA firm—purchasing a firm gives you the best of both worlds: an established business and client list and the freedom to take the business to new heights.

But before you can start growing the business, you have to find the right firm to buy. There are likely many options of firms to purchase, but the key is to find the right option for your goals and business. At first glance, setting out to buy an accounting practice can look like a complicated process and can seem overwhelming. But with the right people to assist you, the hard work will be well worth it. Here is how to find accounting firms for sale in four steps.

Find a Broker

Start by finding a broker to show you the ropes. An experienced broker can make all the difference in the buying process. A broker will help you find accounting businesses for sale, negotiate the best deal, and provide guidance along the way. A broker can set up showings, make appointments, and open doors to opportunities you may not have on your own. Having a broker means having another person in your corner to guarantee you’re making a good decision for your business. Purchasing an accounting firm isn’t like buying a house or starting a business from scratch. Your broker will be your guide, mentor, and confidant through the complex and unique journey.

Talk to multiple brokers to find the one that is the best fit for your goals and personality. Take your time to find an experienced broker who not only understands the local area and details of buying an accounting firm, but who also understands your business and can help you find the perfect firm. Ask for recommendations from colleagues and check referrals before committing to a broker. Taking the time at the beginning to find the right broker for you will help you through the entire process. A skilled broker is the perfect partner and guide through the buying process, so you want to find someone who you work well with.

Buying an existing accounting firmConsider Your Business Goals

After choosing a broker, sit down to determine your business goals for purchasing a CPA firm. Do you want to add another practice to your portfolio, or are you looking to manage the firm’s day-to-day client interactions? Are you expanding to a new area or specialty or building on what you already have? Considering your goals for the future can help you pinpoint what you’re looking for and get you and the broker on the same page to find the best accounting firms for sale.

There are a number of things to consider when purchasing an accounting firm. You may find a firm that seems great on paper but that isn’t a great fit for your personal and professional goals and plans. Consider the location of the firm, the specialty, and its client base. Some firms for sale have a huge client list and reliable revenue, while others are smaller and have more room for growth. The choice is yours, but deciding what you want out of your new firm before you start looking can help you achieve your goals and point your search in the right direction.

Your goals may vary based on where you are in your career and if you have purchased an accounting firm before. Take time to be introspective and look towards the future to see how purchasing a firm can help you reach your goals.

Set Boundaries

Similar to buying a home, consider the boundaries you want to set for a potential new firm. Think of these as things you must have and things you can’t have. For example, you might be looking for a practice in a certain town or neighborhood or with a certain annual revenue. On the list of things you would never purchase could be a practice with a certain specialty or with a number of clients that is far above or below what you’re looking for. Your list should include things you absolutely must have and things that are complete deal-breakers. You may also want to make a list of things that would be nice to have but that aren’t completely necessary. These boundaries limit your search and help you only look at firms that are actually a good fit that you would consider buying.

Be open with your broker about your boundaries. Your broker may still encourage you to look at firms that are outside your target area, but staying on the same page and communicating your boundaries can help the search go much more smoothly and help you move forward efficiently instead of wasting time on firms you won’t consider.

Have an Open Mind

It might seem to go against the step of creating boundaries, but having an open mind is crucial in the buying process. Remember that as the new owner, you have the freedom to change the practice and update things you don’t currently enjoy. It’s the same concept of finding a home you love but taking it out of consideration because of outdated carpet or ugly wallpaper. There are certain things about a practice that can’t be changed, like the location, but there are other things that you’ll have the power to update or improve as the owner. Don’t immediately discredit an outdated office space or small client list. Have an open mind to see the potential of each practice. The right accounting firm for you could have some quirks or projects but end up being just right for your professional goals. With creativity and vision, you can turn practically any accounting firm into your dream practice.

Keeping an open mind can also potentially help you score a great deal on a practice. If there are glaring issues like decreasing revenue or a niche specialty, other potential buyers may overlook the practice. If you have an open mind, you can potentially find a diamond in the rough that you can grow into a thriving practice with some hard work.

When searching for accounting firms for sale, take your time to put together a great team to support you and define exactly what you want. Do your research and consider your long-term goals for yourself and the firm. Be honest with yourself about what you want to achieve, but also keep an open mind to see the firm you might initially overlook. The searching and buying process can be tedious, but following these four steps can put you on your way to finding the best practice.

Take your next step today—request a Complimentary Sales Information Package. And contact us for a free, confidential Initial Consultation to see why hundreds of CPAs, EAs, and accounting and tax professionals have entrusted ProHorizons with the successful sale of their practice.