The thing about the accounting industry is that pretty much anyone is a potential customer. This is a good thing when you’re starting out on your own - you’re happy to take anyone who comes knocking, whether they’re a lawn mowing business, a hairdresser or a horse trainer.
But now that you’ve got some income coming in, you’ve probably realised that to push your profits to the next level, you need to concentrate on differentiating your business somehow.
One way to do this is to establish a niche for yourself. That means promoting yourself as an expert in a particular area to set your business apart from other accountants. Your niche could be focused around a location, an industry, a type of business owner, an area of expertise or a particular accounting or financial management product.
Narrow your focus to widen your income stream
A crowded industry such as accounting allows your prospects the opportunity to be selective. With so many choices available, they can choose an accountant that most closely fits their needs and expectations. They are no longer just looking for an accountant - they are seeking an advisor who understands their industry or has an in-depth knowledge of particular areas or processes.
For you, carving a niche is an opportunity to improve the quality of your customer base and establish your reputation as an expert in your field.
Here are 5 reasons your accounting practice needs a niche:
- A niche allows you to create a more strategic marketing approach because you have a unique selling point to focus on. If you don’t target your customer you will waste time on unqualified leads.
- You’ll stand out online - if your prospects are searching for a specific service then you will be easily found, whereas generic accounting services will likely see you lost in the crowd.
- Focusing on a niche opens you up to more networking opportunities. You’ll find you can assert yourself more confidently in environments where there is potential for business networking, which in turn will generate more referrals.
- Working as a specialist in a particular area helps you justify premium pricing.
- Being known as an expert will increase word of mouth marketing and referrals as you become the ‘go-to’ person for a particular area or industry.
- It opens the door to additional business opportunities. You can move away from simple compliance work and become more involved in financial and business management aspects of a business.
Finding your niche
The hard part is being confident that there is enough of a targeted market to provide you with a sound income. Of course, you need to be strategic about how much of your business is concentrated in only one industry. Don’t limit yourself too much to start with - look at related industries or sub-niches that fit with your services and gradually begin to narrow your focus.
Here are some examples to get you thinking about an area that you might consider a niche for yourself:
- International tax
- Business valuation
- Trust tax
- Creative agencies
- Real estate
Where to start?
You may find that you fall into your niche naturally - perhaps you have several clients in the same industry or have previous experience working with a particular type of client. But if your client list currently looks like a mixed bag then here are some ways to help you identify what you’re good at and what you enjoy:
- Review your current client database - do you notice any trends in the type of customers that you already have on the books? Is there a particular industry that you could attract more of?
- What relationships or networks do you have that you can leverage? Do you have connections in a particular industry? Perhaps think about joining a women’s networking group or a local business association to expand your network.
- What areas of your business are most profitable for you? Consider if there is a particular service that you can easily provide and replicate for a number of similar businesses.
- What do you enjoy? Pursue clients in a particular area of interest, such as sport, motoring, not-for-profit, ecommerce, agriculture, writing, or food and wine.
- Identify your highest paying clients. Who needs you the most? Find more like them!
- Who do you love to work with? Do you have a soft-spot for start-up entrepreneurs? Do you want to focus on wealthy property investors? Are you a female business owner who wants to help other women in business? Be specific about the type of person you want as a client so you can target your marketing for them.
- Is there a concentration of a certain type of business in your local area? Take a look around; if you’re surrounded by mechanics, market gardeners or manufacturers, then consider how you can create a niche that serves your local business community.
Once you have identified what you’re good at you can then target your niche through your blog, through your marketing tactics, through email campaigns and through joining or networking with industry associations.
Won’t I get bored?
You might be thinking that limiting your scope for clients will limit the amount of variety in your work, however working within a niche can actually be more rewarding than spreading your reach far and wide. It allows you to get into more complex problems within a specific industry. Your clients benefit from more specialised advice, you benefit from qualified leads and loyal clients who trust you with their financial management.
Have you chosen a niche in your accounting or bookkeeping practice? How did you grow your practice in that particular area? Share in the comments below!