Starting a Home-Based CPA Firm

It is a very exciting process to start your own CPA firm. There is a high demand for the skills and knowledge of CPAs, and it is a business that is well suited for working from home. So, now that you are ready to start your home business, where do you start?

Check your CPA certification status

Position your company by taking advantage of your CPA certification. A survey of small business owners showed that accountants are sought after for business advice more often than either lawyers or bankers. In fact, 82% of the business owners said they preferred accountants. Lawyers were at a distant 14%.

The hard work you put into the CPA credential allows you to benefit from the reputation it has with business owners and your local community. That reputation has to be carefully guarded by everyone who has earned the right to use the credentials.

  1. Ensure you have an active CPA certificate and a firm license if you are going to use the CPA credential with your firm name. You establish your company brand and your credibility by using the credential, but there is some additional administrative work. Check with the Minnesota Board of Accountancy (BOA) if you do not know your certificate status.
  2. Become active by filling out a form with the BOA if you do not currently have an active certificate. You will need to show 120 hours of CPE in the last 3 years to file as active.
    • Review a summary of the rules if you are not familiar with CPE requirements.
    • Use the CPE Log to keep track of all your credits. It will provide you with alerts if you appear to not be in compliance.

Apply for a firm permit

The BOA grants firm permits to practice as a CPA firm. A firm must apply for and hold a firm permit in order to use "CPA" in the company name.

  • Apply for a firm permit. The BOA has the application form you need to complete.
  • Enroll your firm in peer review. Even though not all firms are subject to peer review, you must enroll. The types of services you offer will determine if you need peer review. Take a look at the peer review FAQs so that you are aware of the requirements.

Firm permits are initially issued and renewed for periods of no more than one year, but in any event, expire on December 31 following issuance or renewal.

Market your firm

If you haven't started your marketing plan, think about getting involved in your local community groups (e.g. Rotary or Chamber of Commerce).

Consider the MNCPA Referral Service when drafting your marketing plan. You indicate what services you provide and individuals who are looking for a firm can use a search function to find firms that match their needs. There is an enrollment fee, but the fee is less than running an ad in the yellow pages. We invest the fees into marketing the referral service to the general public and small businesses.

Explore additional resources

SCORE
Not-for-profit group who uses working or retired business owners, executives and corporate leaders to answer questions and consult with small business owners.

Minnesota Small Business Assistance Center
Center that serves as a point of first and continuing contact for individuals and firms with questions about the start-up, operation or expansion of a business in Minnesota.

License Minnesota
Site that provides licensing information on over 500 licenses administered by over 40 state agencies in Minnesota, including licensing requirements for all the various types of accounting practices.

Have comments?

To make suggestions or provide additional information about starting a home-based CPA firm, please email Member Services at membership@mncpa.org or call 952-831-2707 x2.

Related resources

Professional email account
As a member you can request a free email account. This professional email address promotes your personal brand as a CPA.

Free CCH Client letters - new member benefit
MNCPA members now have access to over 400 free client letters. Why reinvent the wheel when you can simply customize what CCH has already created.