Book review: The Numbers Business – Recommended

Nov 6, 2018 | Strategy

I had mixed emotions when I read Della Hudson’s book, The Numbers Business. On the plus side it is a superb guide to growing a successful cloud accountancy practice from scratch.

I also felt a degree of envy and frustration. There’s a part of me that thinks I should just stop offering advice to anyone starting an accountancy practice. Instead I could simply encourage them to get this book, read it and follow Della’s advice.  Indeed I am happy to recommend the book unreservedly.  Hopefully there is still scope for me to provide specific advice to help those accountants who want mentoring and/or strategic support as they grow their practice.

Gary Turner (MD of Xero UK) reminds us in his Foreword to the book that Della “was one of the very first professionals in the UK to recognise and seize the opportunity of cloud software and digital processes in transforming client service.” “Reading this book is akin to borrowing Della’s personal notebook. It shines a light on how she achieved great success….and every single lesson she learned along the way.”

In her introduction Della explains that ‘This is the manual that I wanted when I first set up my accountancy business in 2009″. It’s the story of how she set up her practice and contains a roadmap that will help anyone to start an accounting practice, recruit and train staff, move from kitchen table to external premises and so on.  Even if you have already built your business this book contains much advice that would be of value if you have yet to embrace the cloud or to fully systemise your practice.

Across the 20+ chapters you will learn what challenges Della faced and how she resolved them during the 8 years she ran her practice before selling it in 2018. She references her preferred software solutions and some of the alternatives that are also available. Every chapter is well laid out with sub-headings, pros and cons, lists of issues to consider, tips, insights and summary points. Her writing style is friendly, matter of fact, honest and easy to read.  I love her personal asides that make it feel as if you’re sitting with Della as she chats away over a nice cup of tea.

Della shares her practical advice across every element of building an accountancy practice, from establishing systems, the professional and legal formalities, generating business, setting your prices (I wish she’d said fees rather than prices), budgeting, choosing software, marketing and more, all the way through to deciding your exit strategy.

She even shares advice on how you could expand by buying another practice and how you might start up by buying a franchise. She did the former rather than the latter. In both chapters she explains the pros and cons and all the issues to take into account before reaching a decision.

It’s traditional in writing detailed book reviews like this, for the reviewer to prove they have read the book by highlighting small elements with which they disagree. It seems almost churlish to do so here but I was however surprised by a couple of KPIs Della suggested you might monitor related to how you market yourself/your practice. And I thought there was a little wishful thinking in a comment about issuing a press release to secure publicity if you buy another practice.  Beyond that? I think her advice is pretty much on the money across the board.

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