Can You Start a Business with an Accounting Degree?

Can You Start a Business with an Accounting Degree? | Accounting Smarts
Charles Hall

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Charles Hall

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March 1, 2021

You have earned your accounting degree, and now it is time to head out into the real world. You could spend your time working for someone else, or you can be your own boss.

You have earned your accounting degree, and now it is time to head out into the real world. You could spend your time working for someone else, or you can be your own boss.

Maybe you have already been working for someone else and feel it is time for a change, but is it possible to build your own business with an accounting degree?

You can start your own business with an accounting degree. Accountants make excellent entrepreneurs in every industry, not just the accounting industry. 

You may be wondering why accountants make such great business owners. What are some ideas of businesses for accountants to start? Wonder no more. We have put together the answers to all your questions about why individuals with accounting degrees are excellent at starting their own businesses.

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Why Accountants Are Excellent Business Owners

Many people believe you need a finance or business degree to launch a successful company. However, they often lose sight of the fact that an accounting degree is one of the best degrees an entrepreneur can have.

As an accountant, you possess many strengths that will help you succeed as a business owner. A few reasons accountants make great entrepreneurs is that they:

  • Are exposed to many different industries while working in the accounting industry
  • Are good at problem-solving
  • Are good at working as a team 
  • Have a fall back plan if they fail
  • Have credibility, especially if they have their CPA
  • Have excellent communication skills
  • Have good time management skills
  • Have the ability to fund their startup
  • Know what risks are worth taking
  • Possess the necessary accounting skills the business will need to survive

With a long list of qualifications like this, it starts to become easier to see why it is not only possible but rewarding for accountants to start their own business. They get to put their skills to the test and start building something of their own. 

Accountants Know About Other Industries

As an accountant, you work with businesses in an array of different industries. As a result, you get an in-depth glance at how to operate a business in each industry. 

Think about it. An accountant keeps track of a business’s income and expenses. They can identify areas of improvement and determine which risks are worth taking. Essentially, as an accountant, you have the ability to see what is working and what is not working for businesses in multiple different industries. 

With knowledge like that, you already have a leg up in whatever industry you choose to pursue because you know what works and what does not.

Accountancy Program Covers Important Skills

As an entrepreneur, you need certain skills to help your business succeed. Even the best business ideas fail if the business owners do not possess the necessary skills to get the business up and running. 

Luckily for accountants, most of these necessary skills are covered in the accounting program—skills such as problem-solving and time management are inherent skills that will help you effectively manage a business. 

Also, if you have certain certificates, like your CPA, you are used to continuing your education as an accountant. This makes it easier for you to adapt to new changes in different industries and learn about new technology. People who are not used to actively educating themselves may have a difficult time with this. 

Accountants Have A Great Fallback Plan

Starting a business is like taking a leap of faith. You do not know if it is going to take off and succeed or crash and burn. 

This risk is what causes many entrepreneurs to be hesitant about starting their own business. Many entrepreneurs will have a fallback plan in case their business does not succeed, which makes them feel more comfortable about taking the risk. 

Individuals with an accounting degree have a guaranteed fall back plan as accountants. The accounting industry is always hiring. If your business does not succeed, you can easily find a job in the accounting industry because of your degree. 

Due to this, many accountants are willing to take the risk of starting their own business because they know they will be okay if the business fails. 

People Trust Accountants

Accountants are widely respected in the business world. CPA certified accountants receive even more credibility. This instant credibility can make it easier for you to:

  • Acquire distributors
  • Attract customers
  • Attract investors

When starting a business, you sometimes need to raise capital. Having an accounting background will cause potential investors to trust you more. As a result, it is much easier to raise the necessary funds and make those important business connections. 

Investors and other business professionals trust accountants because they know that accountants have an in-depth understanding of how businesses work and grow. 

Accountants Can Easily Self-Fund

Many individuals who try to start their own businesses struggle to raise the necessary funds. As an accountant, this can be easier for you because of the state of the accounting industry. 

Since accountants are always in demand, it is very easy for them to find jobs. These jobs are also rather high paying, especially if the accountant is CPA certified.

Due to this, an individual looking to start their own business could work part-time in the accounting industry to raise the necessary capital to fund their own business. They will then be able to budget this income to meet their funding needs properly. 

Weighing Your Risks

There are risks involved in running any business. Each opportunity for growth comes with a risk of failure. Many entrepreneurs are willing to take big risks without considering the consequences. 

Accountants are not known to take big risks. They can calculate which risks are worth taking and which ones are not. As a result, their risks oftentimes pay off better than entrepreneurs who are just taking leaps of faith without calculating everything out. 

An example of this is that many people get caught up in ideas that look good on paper but may not translate into positive cash-flow once implemented. However, accountants investigate all the details surrounding the idea to ensure it will actually pan out. 

They ask important questions like:

  • How is the new idea going to be financed?
  • What if sales are lower than projected?

By doing so, they cover all their bases and ensure the best possible outcome from implementing the idea. 

All Businesses Need an Accountant

Every business needs an accountant to function properly. Luckily for you, you do not need to hire an accountant for your startup because you are the accountant. 

As an accountant, you can perform important business activities such as:

  • Bookkeeping
  • Budgeting
  • Cash reconciliations
  • IRS paperwork
  • Payroll
  • Taxes 

Many entrepreneurs struggle to learn these important activities. They waste their time focusing on accounting activities and less on other important aspects such as product development.

As an accountant, you will be able to easily fly through these activities and focus most of your time on more important things. This is why accountants can get their businesses up and running much quicker than traditional entrepreneurs most of the time. 

Another advantage as an accountant is that you are able to reduce your expenses and take advantage of the tax system better than someone who is not familiar with it. This can help your business save lots of money. 

How to Improve Your Chances of Success

Even though you have higher chances of success due to your accounting degree, there are still ways to improve your chances in any industry. These include:

  • Being open to new ideas
  • Learning about successful entrepreneurs
  • Preparing for the unknown
  • Understanding marketing
  • Working on your personable skills

With a high level of financial knowledge, your business is likely to succeed. However, these additional skills can help it to thrive for years to come.

You Do Not Know Everything

Although many of us like to think we know everything possible about our business, we do not. You need to be open to learning new things and considering different ideas. 

Other people in the industry may have tips and tricks that have not occurred to you. Being open to these ideas is what is going to make your business thrive. 

Some people may even have accounting tips for you. Do not let your ego get in the way of your business’s success. 

Take the Time to Study Others

Take the time to read some case studies about successful entrepreneurs. Learn how they became so successful. 

Also, take the time to read about the mistakes of other entrepreneurs. This will help to ensure you do not make those same mistakes. 

Essentially, take the time to learn more about other people’s successes and failures within the industry besides just what you experienced working with their finances during your time as an accountant. You will find there is much more knowledge to be learned. 

Things Don’t Always Go as Planned

As an accountant, you may believe you have assessed all the risks and have a set plan based on that assessment. Even though you are an excellent risk assessor, you need to understand that not everything goes as planned.

You are probably not likely to take large risks, and your ideas normally go as planned because of this. However, on the off chance that something goes wrong, you will need to be able to make quick decisions to change your plan. 

This versatile thinking and quickly changing your plan are not something accountants are always good at doing. Therefore, you will need to prepare yourself for these situations.

Marketing Is Imperative

In order for your business to be successful, you need clients. This is where marketing comes into play. As an accountant, you may be great at projecting numbers, but if you cannot properly advertise to potential clients and investors, you will not be able to grow your business. 

Marketing allows for lasting impressions with consumers and is a key building block to any business. It is all about customer engagement. If you do not know what that means, you need to start learning about it. 

Improve Your Personability

Accountants spend a lot of time crunching numbers. This does not always allow for a lot of personal interactions. As a result, you may need to work on your people skills. 

Individuals who are outgoing and personable tend to leave better-lasting impressions on clients and investors. Being able to win people over and make them trust you and like you is a sure way to get your business up and running in no time. 

Businesses to Start in The Accounting Industry

Having acquired an accounting degree, you may want to start a business within the accounting industry. All the skills we listed above will help you succeed within the accounting industry as well as in other ones. 

There are multiple different paths to take in the accounting industry. Here are a few businesses to consider starting. 

Auditing Firms Are Essential

Audits are essential to a company’s efficiency. Due to this, many companies will hire an external auditor to look over their company. You could be the one. 

Opening your own auditing firm is a great idea for accountants who enjoy completing audits. As an auditor, you will do things for a company such as:

  • Ensure accuracy of reports
  • Ensure compliance with regulations and policies
  • Identify inefficiencies
  • Investigate potential theft or fraud
  • Reduce costs

Bookkeeping Is Imperative

Every business needs a bookkeeper. This may seem a little easy for you as an accountant, but it is an in-demand job. 

Nowadays, many businesses work with remote bookkeepers. This allows you to take on multiple clients and work from the comfort of your home if you so choose. 

As a bookkeeper, it is your job to record the financial transactions of a business. This includes:

  • Purchases
  • Sales
  • Receipts
  • Payments 

Create A Collection Agency

There is a lot of negative stigma around collection agencies. However, many businesses are willing to hire one to avoid the task of having to track down owed payments on their own. 

You will need to acquire the appropriate state permits and licenses in order to start the business. 

As a collection agency, you will perform tasks such as:

  • Ensuring services stop if invoices go unfulfilled
  • Following paper trails
  • Tracking payments

Although you will likely have to deal with some unhappy people, if you’re good at tracking down payments, this could be a great opportunity for you. 

Starting A Forensic Accountancy Business

If you enjoy investigative work with your accounting, this is an interesting business to start. 

Forensic accountants do things such as:

  • Asset identification
  • Asset recovery
  • Due diligence reviews
  • Tracing funds

It will be your job to explain a financial crime to the courts in fraud and embezzlement cases. 

You may need to acquire certifications in forensic accounting such as the Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) credential in order to be successful, though.

Becoming A Notary Public

Notary services are important in all businesses. As a legal requirement in many transactions, businesses need a trusted notary to authorize their documents. 

To become a notary public, you will need to apply for the appropriate applications and may need to complete additional training depending on your state’s requirements. 

Offering Payroll Services 

Most businesses need payroll services. Although this service isn’t as exciting as some of the other ones, it is still an in-demand job that could be very successful. 

Most of the time, the duties of a payroll clerk are to:

  • Answer inquiries from employees and vendors
  • Distribute paychecks 
  • Distribute statements to department managers
  • Perform data entry 
  • Reconciling timecards

If you have questions about how to start a payroll service, this site can help you layout your business template.

Selling Accounting Software

Although many businesses hire accountants, some have begun buying accounting software to do it themselves. If you are looking to take advantage of this trend, consider selling software to help them with various accounting tasks. 

If you are up for it, you can develop your own software package to sell to businesses and individuals. This, of course, will take more time and skill but will more than likely result in a bigger payout. 

Tax Preparation Is Always in Demand

Most of the time, when people think of accountants, they think of taxes. Why not take advantage of this association?

Everyone must pay taxes. Not many people are aware of the different tax breaks and benefits they could use to save money. As an accountant, you will be able to help them save money.

Another advantage of starting your own tax preparation business is that you can offer personalized tax services to higher paying customers. This can make your small business very profitable. 

Businesses in Other Industries to Consider

Since accountants make such great business owners no matter the industry, we thought we could touch on a few business ideas that are not in the accounting industry. These businesses, however, still utilize accounting knowledge, but just in a different industry. 

Blogging About Accounting

The blogging industry is constantly growing. Starting your own business blog about accounting could involve writing about things such as:

  • Best bookkeeping practices
  • Free-tax advice
  • How to reduce costs

In order to make money off of your blog, you will need to build a large audience. This will likely take time. However, once you do, you can earn money from:

  • Affiliate marketing
  • Host content from others
  • Offer courses
  • Offer subscriptions
  • Paid adds

Career Coaching Can Be Rewarding

Career couches help clients plan their career moves. They do things such as:

  • Help clients find new employment opportunities
  • Provide feedback on resumes and cover letters
  • Strategize for a successful job interview

As an accountant, you can help people on the path of becoming an accountant or any other profession. This is because accountants have experience with many different industries. As a result, they are good at helping people start their careers off right in whatever industry they choose. 

Financial Planning Is Important for Everyone

A financial planner does not always have to be a finance major. In fact, many accountants also act as financial planners. 

Starting your own financial planning business can be very rewarding if done right. With this being said, your success is completely dependent on your ability to attract clients. Getting businesses to trust you will be one of the hardest aspects of this business. 

A great way to attract clients is to specialize in one area. This makes individuals trust you more than if you are a jack-of-all-trades. 

As a financial planner, you will do things like advising companies on:

  • How to save
  • How to spend their money wisely
  • What to invest in

Becoming A Freelance Writer

If you have a knack for writing, starting your own freelance writing business might be the right move for you. With your experience in accounting, you will be able to write about a plethora of accounting topics.

Better yet, individuals will be willing to pay you more for what you write since you have a background in accounting. You could be on track to a successful writing career in no time. 

A few different job boards to consider getting you started in the freelancing industry include:

You can also make your own website and try to reach out to clients from there. 

Helping People with Mortgage Reduction 

If you have experience with loans, this might be a great business for you. As a mortgage reduction service, you will help people renegotiate their mortgages to find a better monthly rate.

The only downfall to this business is that it is commission-based. You charge a fee based on your results for each client. However, if you are great at negotiating, you may do just fine.

Important skills to have before starting this business include:

  • Negotiating skills
  • Knowledge of loan and financing rules
  • Patience with clients

Become A Real Estate Appraiser

Real estate appraisal may be a great business to start If you have experience with:

  • Real estate
  • Property valuations
  • Asset management 

Real estate is a cyclical industry with booms and busts. However, if you take advantage of booming periods, you may find it quite rewarding. 

However, to become a real estate appraiser, you will need to do the following things in order.

  • Become a trainee
  • Find a supervisor appraiser
  • Complete required courses
  • Take the license exam
  • Submit your application to become a licensed appraiser

Make and Sell Online Courses

As an accountant, you have an in-depth knowledge of the industry. As a result, many people may want to learn from you. 

Creating your own online courses is an easy way to make money while helping others. Take a look at Learning Revolution’s article on the different types of platforms used to create and sell online courses to help figure out which platform is best for you. 

Becoming A Tutor

Like online courses, you could consider building your own tutoring service. If you enjoy teaching others, this might be the right path for you to put your accounting knowledge to use. 

Many people associate tutoring with someone tutoring a child in person at a school or for home-schooling purposes. However, you can build a large-scale tutoring service online.

You can specialize your tutoring services however you please and market to a large number of people. 

Picking the Right Industry

You can, of course, start a business in any industry you want. Depending on your skills, interests, and time dedication, you could build a profitable business from the ground up no matter what passion you decide to follow. 

A few things to consider before going into an industry are:

  • Competition
  • Consumer attitudes
  • Demand
  • Economic trends
  • Political stability
  • Projected industry growth
  • Regulatory environment 
  • Scalability of business
  • Technological developments

With an accounting degree, you will be able to understand which industries are the most profitable for you to go into and the risks associated with them. The list above is just a reminder to look at all aspects of the industry, not just the finances. 

Choosing Something You Love

Not only should you take into consideration everything listed above, but you should also consider how much you like an industry. Just because you can start a profitable business in a specific industry does not always mean you should.

You will likely become bored in an industry that does not interest you, which will result in your business not growing as fast because of it.

Individuals who love what they do and are good at it tend to operate much more profitable business than those who just have the necessary skills. Passion helps fuel business growth. 

Starting A Business with An Accounting Degree 

Starting your own business is hard, but not impossible. Understanding the ins and outs of the accounting aspects of starting a business can help make it much easier. 

Anyone can start their own business. With an accounting degree, though, you will not have to spend as much time learning about how to do so. Instead, you can spend your valuable time getting the business up and running.

Charles Hall

Charles Hall

Charles has spent 25 plus years in the world of accounting and business. His experience includes working as a CPA/Auditor international accounting firms. He has worked as a controller and as a COO for small to medium sized companies.

Learn more about Charles Hall