7 survival skills for sole practitioner accountants

Apr 18, 2023 | Key Business skills, Sole practitioners, Strategy

Many of the sole practitioners who contact me are feeling isolated, frustrated and/or overwhelmed. During our initial conversations I always ask what has prompted them to get in touch ‘now’.

The details will vary but typically there will have been a catalyst – even if they were only prompted to get in touch ‘at last’ by something of mine they recently read.

Reflecting on the conversations I have had in recent months I realised that my initial advice typically reflects one or more of a number of recurring themes. I have summarised these below as they may resonate with you too:

Time Management

As a sole practitioner, you wear many hats – accountant, business owner, marketer, and more. Effective time management actually means taking control (yes you can!) so that you can handle all your responsibilities efficiently.

I talk about how you can apply the techniques you already apply when on holiday and in client meetings to take control. Absolutely there are ways in which you can plan your day, prioritise key non-fee earning tasks, and delegate when necessary to optimise your productivity and avoid burnout. I also often share one of the most valuable, effective and easy to adopt time/self management tips out there.

Taking action as regards difficult clients

Building and maintaining strong client relationships is the lifeblood of your accounting practice. If, like so many accountants, you have clients who upset you, don’t respect you and/or don’t pay you on time, you need to take action. That means taking control of the situation and of the relationship.

I often guide my clients through what could be difficult conversations. I’m later told that the real conversation was much easier after the accountant had role played it with me.

Distinguishing distractions

The accounting, tax and business landscapes are constantly evolving. Of course you know that making time to keep up to date is crucial. But so is keeping abreast of new developments and making time to do this can help remove the stress of wondering what is going on.

Some clients rely on me to tell them which new developments are worth investigating and which are simply over-hyped distractions.

Focusing marketing activities on what’s needed

Just last week an accountant told me they had outsourced their social media activity but that they didn’t get any business from it. In fact they had little capacity for new clients anyway. My advice was to save their money.

It’s all too easy to spend time with people who you don’t really want as clients – especially if they are the only ones your marketing activities are attracting.

Financial Management

Managing your own finances is just as crucial as managing your clients’ finances.

Prioritise collecting debts and stop working for ‘clients’ who have stopped paying you. Move your clients to Direct Debits (like everyone else is doing) and review your subscriptions. Only continue with those you need.

Adopting new tech carefully

Embracing new tech and relevant apps can significantly streamline your practice, enhance your efficiency and your client service.

Although I cannot advise on what is ‘best’ in your circumstances and with your client base, the members of my Sole Practice Club do swap stories and recommendations to help each other in this regard.


You don’t need me to tell you that running your own practice can be mentally and physically taxing. It’s more important than ever to prioritise self-care and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Take breaks, practice self-care activities, and make time for hobbies and interests outside of work to avoid burnout and stay motivated.

If nothing else having a regular call with a supportive and encouraging mentor can, I’m told, be extremely helpful here too!

How my NED-style mentoring and support can help you thrive:

You don’t have to continue to navigate the challenges of running your practice alone. Accountants who choose to work with me value my hands-off NED-style mentoring and support. You’ll get valuable guidance, advice, and insights on the issues that matter most to you and tailored to your specific needs and goals.

When relevant I will help you overcome challenges, identify opportunities for growth, provide networking connections, and offer valuable expertise to help you make informed decisions and drive your practice forward (if that’s what you want).

Being a sole practitioner accountant requires a diverse skill set to overcome challenges and achieve success. What got you here may not be enough to enable you to survive and thrive as we go forwards. That is why ‘now’ could be the time to get in touch – while I still have capacity to guide and support you.

By pursuing the 7 survival skills outlined above you can both survive and thrive in a competitive market. And I stand/sit ready to assist and support you on your journey. Now is the time to reach out and explore how my mentoring and support can help you take your practice forward to a brighter tomorrow.

Let’s talk – without any obligation.  Book a time that suits us both now >>>

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