What are the eight most serious problems facing the small practitioner today?

Does the below list look right to you?

1. Inadequate fee structure

2. Staff recruitment

3. Lack of specialization

4. Staff training

5. Practice mix

6. Poor planning

7. Loss of clients

8. Perpetuation of the firm

This seems pretty reasonable to me, but I would like to point out that I took the list from an article in the August 1968 issue of Practical Accountant.

The article indicates that some accountants are charging less for their own time than is being charged by other firms for their juniors' time. It also notes that many small firms have a poor practice mix, with too much reliance on a few large clients. With regard to planning for the future, the article states, "Unfortunately, many small practices grow haphazardly and make decisions as to expansion, hiring, and promotions purely as the need dictates." And then the article cites a death knell for these small firms: the failure to develop staff people for the purpose of eventually taking over the firm.

Are the problems for the small firm any different 35 years later? Not really! Those statements seem equally relevant to the small firm of today.

Just as relevant is the advice at the end of the article: "These problems will not go away. They will become more severe in the next decade. Failure to recognize them and to take steps to solve them is probably the greatest danger which the average accountant faces today." Are you that average accountant?

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