February 3, 2020
Regardless of whether you’ve planned starting your practice for months or you’ve started at short notice, it’s highly likely that the dilemma and uncertainty over where your next clients will come from will be a constant cause of anxiety until you have enough to make sure bills are paid.
Where you find your clients will very much depend on your approach – do you want to work with anyone, what services will you provide and how much will you charge.
I did very little planning before I started my practice – one of the things I would do very differently if I had my time again.
As a result I pretty much took on any client who agreed to pay the fees I quoted. I found clients from a variety of sources. I became a serial networker going to at least 3 networking events every week for the first 6 months. I became hooked on LinkedIn (back in 2012 it was different to how it is now).
The scattergun approach
I told everyone I knew what I was doing – friends, family, ex work colleagues, customers and suppliers. It was a scattergun approach and looking back on it I wasted a lot of time and effort which I felt was needed because I hadn’t planned my practice enough.
Over a period of time it worked and I started to pick up an increasing number of clients as all these avenues and client referrals meant I was always busy.
So if I was to have my time again I’d focus on who I wanted to work with, what services they would want and where I would find those clients. Now I know who I want to work with ‘ambitious business owners to help them achieve their goals’, back in 2012 it was basically anyone who wanted accounts or tax returns prepared.
I now have a detailed client avatar. I have a good idea of their personal circumstances, what they are doing now, where they want to get to, the opportunities and risks they face.
Thinking about your ‘ideal’ clients along these lines will make how to find them a lot clearer.
Ok let’s get straight to it. The obvious ones – those that need accounts and tax returns prepared and submitted.
The nice to haves – those that love what you do for them, respect you, pay your invoices on time and tell everyone what a great job you do and refer other like minded business owners.
The avoid at all costs – what I like to call ‘liars, cheapskates and bullshitters’.
The obvious. Straight forward compliance work which is the staple diet of most accountants starting out. Ok you may have grand plans for doing loads of ‘advisory led services’ but unless you have a healthy number of qualified leads for this type of work you’ll probably start off with plenty of ‘typical’ compliance work…
…and there’s nothing wrong with that!
The nice to haves. They are a pleasure to work for and as their business grows so does yours – doing more for them and charging more fees and being introduced to other business owners by them – warm leads which are usually easy to convert to clients.
What you do for these clients will depend on your skill set, what they want you to help with and the services you can provide.
Liars, bullshitters and cheapskates. You need to develop a sixth sense to spot a lot of these and this usually means you need to suffer a few before you spot the warning signs:
You get the picture, the list goes on…
So what am I saying?
You need to work out who you want to work with. You may be moving from practice and already have a great idea who you will be working with – great.
But if you’re like me, you’ll find out the hard way.
Ask the right questions when you meet prospects and trust your instincts (they’re rarely wrong) and learn from your mistakes.
Now you’ve got your ideal client type sorted out, what are you going to do for them?
If you’re ready to start or are already running your own accountancy practice, here are 5 ways I can help you run the practice you want, the way you want:
1. Get in touch and arrange a free 30-minute discovery call.
2. Read my e-book about how I transformed my practice.
3. Attend one of our regular Mastermind Events.
4. Join one of our Mastermind Groups.
5. Work with me on a 1-2-1 basis.