Growing Your Business Now For a Better Retirement


Don’t simply retire from something; have something to retire to. – Harry Emerson Fosdick

The question isn’t at what age I want to retire, it’s at what income. – George Foreman

While your peers are saving money for the “Golden Years” in standard retirement funds you can rest assured that you’re also building retirement assets as you build your practice.  And the bigger your practice, the bigger your retirement.

Yes, I know, when you support them and acquire clients you’re not thinking of retirement, but you certainly could be. Each client is an asset that can bring you a considerable return as service their needs and do their accounting. Later, when you’re ready to trade in your calculator for a golf cart, you can sell that client to an anxious wannabe freelancer that wants a ready-made practice.

How Much Will Your Business Be Worth?

It’s important that you be realistic about how much your practice is worth.  In a recent article for Ellwood City News, Ameriprise Financial representative Robert Powell explains, “It’s difficult to consider accepting less than you believe it’s worth, but if you retire in a down market or sooner than you’d planned, you may need to compromise on an offer. Keep in mind that selling your business may be emotional. Having knowledge about the process before you consider offers may make it less stressful and ensure the decisions you make are financially sound.”

To realistically value your bookkeeping practice, combine twelve to eighteen-months’ billings. If you are currently billing out $10,000 each month that usually translates to an asking price of $120,000 to $180,000.  The difference between the upper and lower price depends upon how long you have had your clients and how much work you are willing to do to ensure that the client will stay with the new bookkeeper.

The buyer will usually want a little help to get started. This might include:

  • Seller financing for three to five years during which you should charge 9% to 18% APR interest, depending on the going rate, and/or,
  • A two- to three-month training period, or overlap time, for the buyer to become acquainted with the clients and your office procedures, and/or
  • A promise that you will adjust the price in the event a client changes accountants within the first three to six months.

You also must be careful in whom you sell to. You don’t necessarily want to sell to the first interested buyer. Your successor should have comparable expertise, dedication, and drive.  Otherwise, the client may change accountants, causing the buyer to adjust the buying price, resulting in an unhappy ex-client, an unhappy successor and an unhappy you!  Lose, lose.

Working with clients can be rewarding and fulfilling. Improving your golf game can be a lot of fun. Work hard for your clients, and they’ll work hard for you when you retire.  And if you’re interested in increasing the value of your practice, you should seriously consider increasing the services you offer.

Universal’s Training Programs are All Online!

If you’re looking to build your business and your clientele, we suggest you complement your offerings with tax preparation and QuickBooks services.  And Universal’s online training make that more convenient than ever, enabling you to enroll today and begin changing your career tomorrow.  We offer 5 programs designed to make your business more profitable.  To sample our online courses for free, visit Universal today!


Powell, Robert A. “Planning for Retirement as a Small Business Owner.” 18 April 2012

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