You can build a successful accounting firm that will withstand market pressures and continue to grow with time by following this 5-step formula: Plan, Prepare, Specialize & Diversify, Focus on the Customer, and Get the Word Out.
Clearly write down your goals for your practice. Writing down your goals dramatically increases your chance of success. In 1979, Harvard surveyed a number of graduate students about whether they had written goals for life. Only 3% had goals written down, while another 13% had unwritten goals. Ten years later, Harvard discovered that the 13% who had unwritten goals were twice as successful as those with no goals. But the 3% with written goals were ten times more successful!
Now that you know your goals, create a plan, which should include harnessing technology and developing your team. If you have employees or partners, make sure everyone can get behind a clear, inspiring vision for the future. Get their input and develop a clear focus on the future and a plan to get there. Provide team members with the support, training, and autonomy they need to do their jobs well. Consider hiring experts in various areas to round out your team. And don’t overwork them. Happy, well-rested employees are more productive than stressed out, disgruntled workers.
Specialize & Diversify
Specializing and diversifying sound like opposites, but in fact, they work hand in hand. Choose one or two niche industries or specialties to provide services for – something you’re passionate about – and then offer a variety of services your target client would need. You want to be your client’s go-to person for all their financial concerns. If you can do that, the word will spread in that industry. Your clients will tell others in their field, “They speak our language. They get us.”
Some possible value-added services:
- Business compliance
- Bank loan preparation
- Business valuation
- Cash flow management
- Strategic business planning
- New business formulation
- Small-business bookkeeping
- Part-time CFO
Your industry niche may have different needs – just ask your clients what other financial needs they have and grow what you offer gradually. To build your services quickly, consider hiring an expert in that space.
Focus on your customer
If you want your business to keep growing, it’s critical that you keep in contact with your customers and measure customer satisfaction. Sign written communication by hand. Provide free services to your customers throughout the year. A monthly email providing useful tips or directing them to a helpful blog on your website reminds them of your services and makes them feel valued.
Offering seminars on subjects that can help your niche clients will get them back into your office and possibly draw in potential clientele. Consider getting a speaker, an expert who is promoting a book or who offers a service complementary to yours.
Ask your clients for their feedback. What do they like? What could you do better? People want to be asked, and it shows them that you really care, especially if they see their suggestions applied.
Get the word out
Advertising is necessary for every business, but some advertising is more effective than others. The very best advertising is client referrals. If you implement the strategies above, you will find that your clients will refer you without even being asked. But ask anyway – “Is there anyone you know who could use our services?” or “Would you mind writing an online review for us?”
Use paid advertising, both traditional and digital. Leverage local business groups to advertise not just your services but your free seminars, webinars, and a monthly newsletter full of tips for your niche clientele. Try Facebook groups and local neighborhood web pages dedicated to helping build local businesses. Attend trade shows in your niche, or offer to be a speaker at a meeting for your niche industry. Develop a referral arrangement with people who offer services complementary to yours.
Don’t leave your future to chance. Make a plan, write it down, build gradually, and your practice will thrive.