Mobile Essential for Next Generation Accounting

What is the Cheapest Way to Start an Accounting Firm? Read This List

Forget forking out thousands of dollars for a server and office to run your new practice. Today accountants can start off with just a smartphone, a laptop and a general understanding of cloud software for just $50 a month.

Accountants typically pay up to $24,000 for practice management software plus a server to run the software and an office to store it. A monthly server maintenance bill can cost between $325 to $900 a month.

“We don’t need to pay for server maintenance anymore and we actually get way more features. If we were setting up today we would save $25k upfront!” said Steph Hinds, accountant at Growthwise.

The high cost of setting up an office used to be a critical factor for accountants considering going solo. But cloud programs with free trial periods have eliminated overpriced IT support and expensive server systems, said Paul Meissner of 5ways Group Chartered Accountants.

“The ability to set up all my systems without the need for capital outlay or premises made it that much easier,” said Meissner, who left a mid-tier accounting firm to set up his own practice three years ago.

Once Meissner had bought the domain name for his new company’s website it took just two hours to set up email, accounting and online storage for his business using cloud apps.

Accountants could rethink the typical office-centric approach by taking advantage of the mobile nature of cloud computing. Rather than sitting behind a mahogany desk, Australian accountants are moving into virtual services, which means less paperwork and more client interaction.

When Alycia Edgar first started Business Performance HQ eight years ago, she created a mobile service where she visited her clients’ offices. Despite running a successful business, Edgar still prefers to keep on the move – her favourite work-spot is a coffee shop. “Wouldn’t you rather be working in your favourite place? For me its a Coffice (cafe and office), food and coffee on tap is heaven,” Edgar said.

Accountants could use cloud apps for storing documents, sending email, managing projects, tracking sales, processing receipts, creating analytical reports and of course running the accounts for their own business.

BoxFreeIT calculated the cost of setting up an accounting firm just using cloud software based on the recommendations of accountants. Prices were estimated for the most basic or free plans for a single user. The cost of a laptop and a mobile internet connection was not included.


  • Accounting – MYOB Essentials, QuickBooks Online, Reckon One, Saasu, Xero: From $20 a month
  • Project management – TeamworkPM,  Worketc, WorkflowMax: From US$12 a month
  • Document storage – Box, Dropbox: Free
  • CRM – CapsuleCRM, Nimble, ZohoCRM: From US$12 a month
  • Email and document management – Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365: From US$5 a month


Total: From $50 a month (approx.) for business software

As a firm grew it could add other applications such as electronic document signing, debtor management, newsletter marketing, business analytics and client engagement.


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