Planning for Success: How to Build a Growth Roadmap for Your Accounting Firm

March 15, 2017 Jillean Kearney

A growth roadmap is your step-by-step plan for getting your firm from point A (where you are now) to point B (the firm that you have dreamed of owning). Achieving your business vision requires a roadmap that outlines how progress will be made and when milestones will be reached. Below, we walk through how great practitioners create their own five year growth roadmaps.

First, Identify Where You Want to Take Your Firm

Before you can begin to draw out a roadmap that will guide your firm's growth, you need to identify where you are trying to go – this means creating a vision for your business. Your vision identifies how you want your firm to look and operate five years from now. It includes goals for:

  • Annual revenue 
  • Which markets you will be serving
  • The products and services you will provide

Check out this article for tips on creating a vision: 5 Steps to Creating a Compelling Business Vision

Create an Organization Chart for the Future

Next, identify all of the functions that will need to be performed within your firm in order to turn your vision into a reality.  A great way to do this is by building an organization chart for your future firm.

This organization chart is a diagram that breaks down what the structure of your firm will look like five years from now. Each box you include in your organization chart will represent a single function. Every box also needs an appropriate resource that is responsible for its function.

When you create your future organization chart, you will find that some of the individual function boxes are currently empty.  That's ok. It’s likely that you don’t have a current employee or resource to fulfill each role. In other cases, you may find that one person may be responsible for multiple functions and that their name is used more than once. For example, you may be the President but you are also responsible for marketing and sales. As you advance towards your vision, the organization chart will evolve to the point where a single resource is responsible for a single function.

A specialized focus increases the effectiveness of each position. In effect, the empty boxes are opportunities for growth, and the steps required to seize each opportunity are what your roadmap should include.

Include these 4 Essential Strategies in Your Roadmap

Your roadmap outlines how your current staff and resources will evolve and who/what you will need to bring into your firm.

To build your growth roadmap, compare your firm’s current organization chart with your future organization chart. You will need to create a plan to fill each empty box in your future organization chart over the next five years. Identify the steps you will take to eventually make one resource responsible for just one function. Consider filling each box that needs attention using one of the following four strategies.

1. Mentor and support the development of current staff to take on bigger or different roles. Identify which of the gaps in your organization chart can be filled by the development of your current staff. Identify the new skillsets each team member will need in order to transition to their new role. For each skillset, define what training will be needed, when and at what cost.

2. Identify which new roles need to be hired and when. Map out which of the unfulfilled functions will require brand new hires. Create a hiring schedule and set deadlines for when you would like each new role to be onboarded. Write job descriptions for each, and include a list of their daily roles and responsibilities. It's also important to make someone responsible for the hiring and onboarding process within your firm to keep this strategy on track.

3. Delegate to technology where possible. Look for functions that could be delegated  to technology. Identify what software you need, cost, when you intend to onboard it and who is responsible for implementation and maintenance.

4. Outsource to experts for non-core competencies. If you need help filling roles that aren't part of your core competency, look for outside help. Search your network for experts who can assist your firm’s growth. For instance, you could contract out roles like web design or content marketing.

Wrap up

Your completed roadmap for growth will identify every role needed in your firm for the next five years. The plan describes how each role will be filled. It details the talent management, hiring, tech adoption and outside partnerships that will be needed. In each case, it sets out what needs to happen and when. It becomes a tool to manage your growth, and a solid plan gives your firm a clear direction to move in.

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