October 23, 2019
This is the third in a series of 5 blogs where I’m going to focus on what I consider the 5 key areas where accountants make mistakes which have a significant negative impact on their practice.
How do I know what these problems are?
Because I have faced them in my practice.
But by tackling them head on and overcoming them I’ve seen massive gains.
These problems hold accountants back, stifle development of their businesses, mean they don’t earn enough, work too many hours and don’t spend enough time doing the activities they enjoy with the people they care about.
That could be simple things like walking the dog, having lunch mid-week with their partner, picking the kids up from school, taking a day off when they ‘feel like it’.
Or bigger goals – paying the mortgage off in 5 years, taking six weeks holiday every year or buying a holiday home in the south of France.
Running your own accountancy practice means you have the perfect opportunity to achieve these goals and much more.
But first you need to get your accountancy practice running the way you want it too.
Problem number three – you have the wrong type of clients
The sooner you’re able to identify the clients you want to work with the better.
Better for you and better for your clients.
I made the obvious mistake that many do of taking on any client who agreed to pay my fees. I was desperate to get clients onboard and to start generating fees. I knew what I was doing and was confident I could help any potential client.
But I quickly became busy with a huge variety of business types and client types. Most clients were, and still are great to work with but there was the occasional horror; timewasters, cheapskates and liars.
‘D’ Grade clients
The more experienced you get and the more confident, the quicker you’ll identify the D grade clients. It’s a great idea to use a fact-finding form or questionnaire before you meet with new prospects. That way you can work out whether they are the type of client you want to work with.
If the potential client doesn’t provide the information ahead of the meeting, it’s a good indication of what they will be like to work with in the future.
I was lucky that I only seemed to attract limited companies and not sole traders, which fitted in with the type of work I wanted to do.
So, you will save yourself a lot of time, stress and unnecessary work if you have a very good idea of what your ideal client looks like. Whatever that is – stick to it, refine it over time, but stick to it.
If you have a gut feel that a client isn’t right, trust it.
Work with clients you can provide a great service to, you will enjoy working with and who value what you do for them. Despite what many marketeers will tell you, having raving clients who recommend you is still the most cost-effective way to grow your practice. That’s not just me saying that, its most of the accountants I speak to as well.
Specialist areas not a niche
When I say know what types of client you want to work with, I’m not talking about having a niche, I don’t agree with that. Especially not early on in your practice when you can’t afford to be too picky – you need the cashflow. Being picky isn’t having a niche, its common sense.
Even now, the most important aspect for me is whether I like, respect and think I can work well with a client. It doesn’t matter what sector he or she works in, where they’re based or how big they are.
But you need to work it out for yourself. One piece of great advice I picked up from Amanda C Watts was the need to identify my ideal client and produce a detailed ‘client avatar’. Pick your best clients and identify what it is about them that makes them your best clients. Then work out how you can get more of them.
It took me a long time to work out what my ideal client looked like. I didn’t force myself to find a niche instead I focused on what I was good at, which sectors I had great experience of and then focused on building a core of great clients who I enjoyed working with and who valued the services we provide.
Services and client mindset
I looked at the type of services we were great at providing and the type of business owners we wanted to work with, what their characteristics and mindset were. I then looked to identify, connect and convert more of that type of client.
Focus on communicating how you help your clients, use case studies to show how you help business owners. Focus on your knowledge and experience and how you use that to help clients. Business owners ‘get it’ when they read, see or hear stories which they can relate to.
I’m not a marketing expert, all I can tell you is that this approach works for me. Work out who you want to work with and how you can help them, then go and find them. Don’t get obsessed with over-engineering your approach.
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 free Mastermind Events.
4. Join one of our Mastermind Groups.
5. Work with me on a 1-2-1 basis.