As accountants, you're used to working to external deadlines. Lots of these depend on the client e.g. accounts filing deadline and corporation tax...
5 Questions To Ask When Defining Your Accounting Firm’s Ideal Client
Do you know what your ideal client looks like? In the early days of running your accounting firm, you might not have the luxury of choosing an ideal client
Do you know what your ideal client looks like?
In the early days of running your accounting firm, you might not have the luxury of choosing an ideal client. You need to bring in enough business to make what you’re doing viable.
But as time goes on, having a 100% conversion rate and working with anybody might not be the best strategy…
Not defining what your ideal clients look like, and what problem clients look like, can be a costly mistake.
It’s easy and exciting to say yes to clients, but there’s a chance you’ll be working with them long-term, so you need to make sure there’s an equal relationship.
Too many problem clients can drain your time, energy and enjoyment.
So, here are 5 questions to think about when figuring out your ideal clients...
1. Whose problems & challenges do you have a good understanding of?
Is there a particular type of client where you have a good understanding of their situation and the problems they’re facing?
For example, when Cheryl Sharp at Pink Pig Financials started her accounting firm, she was a single mum with two young kids. So, the people she understood best were other parent-led businesses. She could speak their language, she knew exactly what problems and challenges they were facing (because she was facing them herself) so it made complete sense that they were her ideal type of client. Check out a screenshot from her website homepage below!
Another example might be based on previous work experience. For example, if you have spent any time working in a particular industry as an accountant, then chances are you have a good understanding of the types of financial challenges faced by others in that same industry.
2. Who do you enjoy working with?
Another good question to ask yourself is around who do you enjoy working with?
Look at your current client base and figure out which businesses you enjoy working with, and which you don’t enjoy working with as much.
Also, think about which services you enjoy delivering and which ones you don’t enjoy as much.
Chasing the businesses that bring in higher-fees can be great, but if you don’t enjoy working with them then is it really worth it?
3. Do you have any specialist skills or knowledge?
Certain clients will need specialist skills and knowledge to get them the best results.
Take property businesses as an example. If you currently have limited property tax knowledge, then choosing property businesses as your ideal client type could work, but it’s unlikely you’ll be able to deliver the best outcomes for them.
On the other hand, maybe you have specialist skills and knowledge around software and how to implement it within businesses. Which types of clients could you help with this?
That being said, you can always go and learn the necessary knowledge for a particular client type though if you’re interested in working with them!
4. Who can afford the level of service you want to provide?
This one's quite important. If you have a particular level of service that you want to provide to your clients (e.g. a fully outsourced finance function including bookkeeping, accounts, VAT, payroll, management accounts + extras) then you’ll need to make sure your ideal clients can actually afford this level of investment.
Choosing to target start-up businesses, whilst trying to provide this level of service wouldn’t be the best idea.
So first think about the level of service you want to provide, and then figure out what types of clients can afford this investment. Maybe it’s worth introducing a minimum fee that will disqualify certain clients e.g. tax return only clients.
5. Can you get them results?
Another good one to think about...which types of clients can you deliver the best results for?
Results = referrals. So the more results you can deliver for your clients, the more they’re likely to go and speak to other people (just like them) telling them how good you are.
Results don’t necessarily have to be business growth. It could be:
You’ve helped them to save enough money to pay off their property
You’ve helped them to build their business to a point where it runs without them
You’ve saved then a huge chunk of cash in tax
The types of results will vary based on the client you choose to work with, but try to keep it in mind.
Are you any wiser about your ideal clients now?
If you haven’t already, write these 5 questions down on a piece of paper and spend 20-30 minutes having a think about the answers.
Do you feel any clearer about who your ideal clients might be?
Or are you still unsure?
By having an ideal client to target working with you can increase your enjoyment, deliver better outcomes and usually save yourself the time and energy that gets drained by problem clients.
That being said, choosing an ideal client is not a requirement. There are lots of accounting firms out there doing a great job working with a huge variety of clients. The choice is yours.
Remember, your accounting firm is your business.
You choose who you work with and how you run it.