Most small businesses aren’t aware of everything accountants can do.
This can be a great opportunity - if you frame your services in the right way.
Reverse Your Plan
What’s your standard advice journey for the businesses you work with?
Most commonly, it starts with statutory accounts. Then upselling to management accounts. Maybe you’ll upsell again to financial forecasting.
At this stage the business might be looking at serious growth, or even a valuation with selling in mind. But now they’ve got the ‘experts’ in - maybe an in-house accountant, or a specialist to help with the sales process.
The business you’ve helped build is reaping big rewards and you’re not there to see the profits, because you’ve been seen as helping with one specific task.
So to make sure you’re there to profit at the end, break the assumptions at the start.
Your Fresh Start
Your first client meeting should begin with one question – do you want growth?
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a new business that doesn’t, and a new business that knows you can deliver this growth.
Use their lack of knowledge to surprise them, and excite them by what you can offer. Then go backwards from there. If they want growth, they’ll need forecasting, which needs account management, which starts with statutory accounts.
This is particularly useful for start-ups. While being the fastest growing section of the UK workforce, they’re also filled with people who have great business ideas, but little idea of business.
Half of these businesses fail in the first year, and the number one reason is scaling up too soon. But after you’ve started with growth, you’ll be perfectly placed to set out a long-term plan for success – rather than leaving it to them and getting a year’s worth of business before it goes wrong.
Even if they say they don’t want all these services at once, you’d have planted the seed, making upselling a lot easier in the future.
Finally, consider the fact they won’t share their business plans with their peers for fear of being copied, but they’ll share them with you.
Now you’re no longer an accountant as they see it, but an accountant as we see it - the person with the numerical, business, and soft skills needed to be the ultimate business partner.