Application accounts for success

WHILE the picture facing a lot of sole practitioner accountants and small accounting firms is not a pretty one, the news is not all bad.

At just 28, Justin Coppin (pictured below) owns not one but three accounting practices.

Nominated by former employee Ian Gardner, Mr Coppin is one of 111 nominations and 86 completed entries for the Business News’ 40 Under 40 program.

Indeed, Mr Coppin believes his foray into sole practice helped pave the way to future success.

He began as a sole practitioner from a one-room office five years ago.

His business now has about 30 staff and has been built around the philosophy that an accountant should offer more than just compliance work.

“Our primary focus is on developing our clients’ business,” Mr Coppin said.

“With most of our clients we allocate 20 per cent of our fee towards compliance work and the other 80 per cent towards business development.

“If you, as an accountant, have business skills and experience, you can apply it to your clients’ businesses.

“By running my own business I’ve found where a lot of the pitfalls are and I can pass that knowledge on to my clients. I believe there is a blueprint to running a business. By following that you can make any business successful.”

And while the GST has been the bane of small accounting practices, Mr Coppin believes it has been a boon for his business.

“Because of the GST, information on a business’s performance is far more readily available,” he said.

“We’re trying to make the GST burden an asset for our clients.”

However, Mr Coppin admits the fact that his practice was already of a reasonable size before the GST’s introduction helped him avoid many of the problems smaller accounting firms have faced.

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