5 top tips to grow your accounting or advisory firm

By Posted in - Public Blog on September 21st, 2017 1 Comments

How to grow an accounting or advisory firm

Wondering how to grow an accounting or advisory firm? You’ve come to the right place


Whether you’re focused on growing your total number of clients OR the value of your existing clients (or both), there’s one thing to keep in mind.

Growing your accounting or advisory firm doesn’t have to be difficult.

In fact, if you put the following tips into practice, it can be surprisingly straightforward.

But building the business and the life you want doesn’t happen by accident. And it doesn’t happen without focus.

Your business should support a great lifestyle — however you define that. It shouldn’t consume your life or stop you from enjoying your family.

A well-performing business gives you choice, prosperity, and ultimately, freedom. A mediocre business is little more than a job. And a badly-performing business is a low-paying job with long hours.

The following tips are the most crucial when it comes to designing and creating a business that performs. Once you learn to MARKET your business, SELL your advisory services and DELIVER them in a way that impresses your clients, you’ll truly have an effective, working business. No longer will you feel as though you are spinning your wheels trying to gain traction.

So how do you achieve that?

Relentlessly pursue these 5 tips to get the growth results you desire…

1. Develop a growth mindset, focus on implementation, and avoid unhelpful ‘noise’

It’s become fashionable of late to just say “do the work” and leave it at that. Doing the work is essential, saying it is obvious and rarely helpful.

At the risk of sounding a little ‘woo woo’, the significance of fostering mindsets that empower you while overcoming limiting mindsets that hamper you cannot be understated. This means examining your assumptions, biases, and positions on every aspect of your business, in particular, your values, beliefs, self-image, and perceptions.

As you start to refine your thoughts and approach your business (and life) with healthy mindsets and see yourself as an agent of change rather than a victim (an unhelpful and limiting belief), the remaining tips will become much more valuable to you.

Someone who has beliefs such as “Selling is beneath me” or “If a client wants my advisory services they’ll ask for them”, is someone who won’t be receptive or get much value from learning sales or marketing skills.

Likewise, you’ll better design and improve systems within your business, and find the right software tools to facilitate those systems after developing a growth mindset and learning the basic practical skills first. Incidentally, with a healthy mindset comes the acknowledgment that buying new software or tools will not create any results or change in the business anything until they are fully utilised.

A sound mindset helps guard against that Bright Shiny Object Syndrome.

Linked to mindset, skills, systems, and tools is the idea of working smarter rather than harder.

This might mean:

  • Outsourcing your lowest value activities to better leverage your time
  • Automating parts of your sales and marketing processes, such as lead generation, follow-up emails, booking of appointments, or distribution of your marketing content online
  • Developing and updating operational processes by eliminating wasteful practices or replacing them with better ones

There’s a great deal to unpack within that. Once you identify what you plan to work on first, it is your focus that matters.

It’s focus that separates an overhauled sales process from a sales process which fails to convert or a successful automated marketing machine from a non-existent online presence!

Lastly, one situation where “Do the work” is helpful is when it comes to tolerating (or rather not tolerating) the spruikers, consultants, and ‘gurus’ who spout useless motherhood statements and platitudes, instead of practical action steps and ideas.

There’s no benefit to handing over your valuable time to anyone who isn’t providing real, actionable advice and ideas that you can put into practice.

Just remember that applies equally to yourself as it does to your own prospects!

So how do you create valuable content? We’ll explore that in the next tip…

2. Implement Strategies to Attract ideally suited prospects to your website

Every business now a publisher.

This is good because it gives you an avenue to get your content in front of people searching for the services that you provide. On the downside, there’s so much noise that it can be hard to cut through it all and stand out from your competitors.

Standing out from the competition really isn’t hard — BUT to succeed you’ve got to be strategic.

That means not trying to rank for phrases like “accountant Brisbane” in Google. People who search that phrase are looking for the cheapest firm they can find.

People who search “building industry accountant Brisbane”, or better yet “how can I grow my construction business?” on the other hand, are looking for:

  • An accountant or advisor who is a specialist
  • An accountant or advisor that knows the industry inside and out
  • An accountant or advisor that has experience and can help guide their business to achieve the results they want

People like that are much less price oriented, and much more interested in getting valuable advice to grow their business.

In short, they’re much better prospects for anyone who offers services beyond tax and compliance.

So how do you reach potential clients like that?

In less than 10 minutes I’ve thought up of over fifty content marketing ideas.

While you wouldn’t use all of them, you or your team might have a talent for writing, video, perhaps at podcasting, or maybe even designing compelling graphics.

As long as you’re educating people about what you can do for them — if you’re creating value, it doesn’t matter which kind of content you use.

It is true that certain kinds of content are more easily shared on social media, your website, or via email than other forms, but all that matters is whether it helps people, that it educates, inspires, or entertains. One added bonus is to use mediums that your target market are already active and engaged with. Another bonus is to position yourself coming at the topic from a non-obvious angle to generate intrigue.

If you can do that, and do it consistently, you have unlocked a path to growth that will continually send you new leads over time as you continue to distribute your content.

Who doesn’t want that?

If your website is professionally designed and looks great, if your content connects with your audience and sounds great, and you operate with integrity and deliver on your promises, you’ve ticked the boxes of looking great, sounding great and being great.

Those boxes are essential to attracting quality leads to your website.

3. Update and streamline your sales process

Sales is a blind spot for many business owners. They don’t know what they don’t know. Past PARADOX and industry-wide surveys have shown that few accountants and few business owners in the broader community have ever been trained to sell.

But not understanding sales skills limits any business’ potential to grow.

Because at its heart, sales is simply about intelligent, well-timed, well-targeted, well-delivered suggestions to clients or prospective clients.

Getting it right is highly strategic, which is great for you because strategies can be learned.

The first stage of bringing your sales process into the 21st century is to examine which elements can be automated and handled by machines instead of humans. These days everything from lead scoring prospects, keeping track of where people are in your pipeline, email communication, and follow-ups, to generating proposals that actually convert, and keeping track of billing (and much more) can be automated.

There’s no reason to do any manual sales work that a machine can do for you. The last part of that is important. Sales is ultimately about connecting and building a relationship. You may also want to do some strategic ‘high-touch’ strategies. That’s valid. What you don’t want is to manually handle anything which isn’t about building the relationship.

But unfortunately, machines can’t-do everything for you (at least not yet).

Which is why you must overcome any false beliefs or common myths you may hold when it comes to sales.

And from there you are positioned to learn the skills and steps to sales mastery.

Incidentally, those exact topics were covered in a recent PARADOX webinar featuring Nicky Miklos-Woodley. You can watch the recording here.

Once you’re up to date and have some training under your belt, you need to design and document your modern sales process and communicate your new sales process with your team.

After you have a clearly defined sales process, it’s the time to figure out which software and apps to use, and how to track your KPIs within those tools (or via others).

As the saying goes, “What you measure you can manage, and what you measure improves”.

Which brings us to the next tip…

4. Track and monitor the key sales and marketing metrics that matter

It’s one thing to think you’re doing all the right things, but how do you know for a fact whether it’s really working?

You can know for sure by using the ImpleMENTOR reports available to you if you’re a PARADOX member. Other places to look find valuable data include Google Analytics, your email broadcast tool’s analytics, and your social media platform’s analytics summary.

That’s all well and good, but lots of metrics are just vanity metrics. Which metrics truly matter?

On your website, you will want to track and measure the:

  • Number of visitors in the last 30 days – the number is less important than whether it’s growing each month
  • Specific countries that those visitors are from – so you know your audience and who you need to target
  • Keywords that visitors are using to find you – this tells you what to focus on to rank well
  • Pages which are most highly trafficked – you can then work on making these pages even better, or add a lead magnet or email capture widget to get subscribers
  • Total number of backlinks (other websites linking to yours) – you want to continually be gaining more links both from other websites, from your own presence on social media, and from industry websites within your target market
  • Load speed (your website should load in under 4 seconds) – anything more will cost you visitors and limit how well you can rank in Google
  • Traffic sources that your visitors come to you from (organic search, direct, referral links, social media, email) – this tells you what is performing, what’s not, and most importantly which to focus on
  • Conversion goals that you set up in Google analytics – this lets you track the percentage of people who come to an article on your blog, with those who come and then follow through on your call to action by downloading your lead magnet on that page or sign up for your webinar.

In your email broadcast tool, you should keep an eye on:

  • The open rates of your broadcasts – indicates the strength of your subject line
  • The click-through rates of your broadcasts – the number of people clicking links in your emails indicates how compelling your offer or Call To Action is.

On your social media platform(s), you want to look at:

  • Number of posts you are making – whether you’re publishing consistently
  • Engagement – are people liking, commenting, or sharing? This is a vanity metric so don’t focus on it, but the more engagement you get the greater your reach will be
  • Demographics – who likes your page, males? Females? Both? From which countries?
  • Reach – are your posts getting attention from more than just those who have liked your page?

In your sales process, you’ll want these front and centre on your dashboard:

  • Number of new leads – anyone who has downloaded a lead magnet or signed up to your email list
  • Number of warm leads – anyone who has downloaded multiple lead magnets from you, read several blog posts, signed up to a few webinars or contacted you.
  • Number of new clients this week or month
  • Number of cancellations or clients who exit
  • Monthly revenue
  • Webinar (or other events) attendees
  • Best performing lead sources – how the leads that convert into clients first found you
  • Number of future-focused advisory meetings in the last 7 days – while these may not often convert any sales, it will help retain your existing clients

5. Blow your clients away with a delightful onboarding experience

A rock-solid onboarding process is your chance to prove yourself to your new clients and deliver what you have promised.

If you get it right, you can ‘wow’ and impress them, eliminating any regret or hesitation they had about signing up with you.

That’s how you retain clients for the long term.

But what specific strategies can you make use of to achieve that? Well, you can:

  • Track where new members are in your onboarding process, whether emails have been received and opened – nothing is worse than failing to communicate, whether it’s due to system or human error
  • Setup an email series to nurture new clients across their first few months with you – this helps to not only educate new clients on what you do, and more importantly the benefits they get, but it also keeps up momentum. They don’t forget about you, and you keep building familiarity in a leveraged, one-to-many way
  • Send a welcome package – You could send a welcome card, a book, an info pack (that’s valuable/useful to a new client), a t-shirt, or anything else which is appropriate to your target market
  • Create a member’s only FB group where you offer many-to-many support, provide valuable content and build your tribe
  • Mix in ‘high-touch’ human-to-human contact, such as phone calls, with your automated marketing emails, SMS messages and other systems where possible.
  • Ensure your operations team are ready, iron-out your operational processes to reduce waste and make it easy for your new client (and for you)
  • Make your first focus to identify one thing that you can help your new client change within their business that will have a profound impact

If you go through and unpack this blog post, you’ll find a dozen little action steps within each tip. There’s always lots to be done.

So how do you avoid overwhelm while trying to implement it all?

By recognising that what matters is to be moving forward. To be chipping away consistently, relentlessly, each week and each month.

Pick one thing, make it a priority and get it done. None of the other ideas matter until that one’s done.

Do that, and you start to achieve results.

Do that, and you start to radically change the way you market and grow your business.

Do that, and you will become renowned within your niche.

(1) awesome folk have had something to say...

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