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ONKHO co-founder Susan has been running a busy practice for over 20 years. We take a look back at what has changed over that time. The headline? She earns twice as much with half the aggravation.

Susan Rahman has been running her busy south London practice for over 20 years now. One Friday afternoon, we happened to muse on her journey and how things have changed.

In numbers (we're accountants, right!)

  • Number of clients - down by 20%
  • Team size - down by 64%
  • Profitability - up by 225%
  • Spend on technology - up by 7,400%

Putting this in perspective: she earns twice as much with half the aggravation.

Unpacking the journey

There's a lot to unpack here but here's a few of the key strategic decisions that got Susan here:

  • Changing the client mix - while she had a stable client base, they weren't the most profitable so Sue actively replaced 50% of them with more profitable clients and ones she actually enjoyed working with. A helpful dividend from this focus was an increase in high quality and high converting referrals. These days, many referrals turn up having already made the decision to come onboard because of client advocacy.
  • Investing in client service - at one stage, Susan had he own dedicated customer services person! She did that so she could recover her client retention rate from 82% to 99%. Eventually, she replaced that person with her own practice management platform onkho, saving the business £24k a year and unlocking the ability to scale safely. Client retention has stayed above 98% consistently since 2008.
  • Investing in technology - Susan didn't chase efficiency and productivity. In fact, those were a helpful and profitable dividend from her investments. Her focus was on building a platform that allowed the practice to build a differentiated service that focused on clients, not the work and not the team. Probably the biggest challenge was changing how the team worked. To be perfectly honest, she had to be ruthless and not one of the people she had 20 years ago still work at the practice.
  • Deciding what the future would look like - its the last decision in this list, but its the first thing Susan did. When Susan answered this question she spoke about balancing earnings, health and lifestyle. Then she worked out what needed to change and started her journey. It wasn't easy and it wasn't quick, but she hit all of her goals within 15 years.

So, is this success?

Well it might not be for some, but it is for Susan.

Susan defined what success looked like for her and no one else.

That's really the point of this article - success is whatever YOU say it looks like - for YOU.
Susan didn't set out to build a top 10 and award-winning accountancy firm. She just wanted a target level of income that wasn't tied to her time and clients that she loved working with. That was it.

The key to Susan's journey was an obsessive focus on client service and that's as it should be. After all, what do accountants do? Accounts? Tax? Advisory? No. They deliver a service to a client...

The next 20 years

Of course, you can't rest on your laurels so Susan is deciding what the future will look like again! Funnily enough, the strategic decisions she made in the past all apply to the future as well including changing the client mix...

Circle of life. Next update in 20 years time...maybe :)

What does success look like for YOU?

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onkho

Onkho picks up where others leave off and addresses the challenges faced by today’s busy practices. It is the brain child of Susan Rahman, who has her own thriving firm in South West London and her husband, Emanur, who was an accountant at the BBC and a CTO at the London Stock Exchange, to develop the missing technology piece in the practice jigsaw. Since starting to use Onkho, Susan's client retention has increased from 85% to 99%.
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