How Joshua Tharby grew JSM to be one of the leading accounting firms in the property niche

Does niching work? Learn how Joshua Tharby grew his from to nearly 200 clients in 2 and a half years by focusing on a niche.

It's always a topical question in the accounting and bookkeeping community...

To niche, or not to niche?

We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Joshua Tharby from JSM Partners to learn more about how he grew his firm to almost 200 clients in 2 and a half years by focusing on the property niche.

It's a great story of growth and one we wanted to highlight as part of our #learnfromyourpeers campaign.

You can read or watch the interview below.

Tell us about yourself?

My name is Joshua Tharby, I'm the Managing Director and Founder of JSM. We're based in Peterborough, and at the moment there's five of us in the team, but we are rapidly growing. We mainly work with property investors, that's one of our niches. I've actually written a book on property. That's how we've grown so fast, we are one of the leading firms in the property sector because that's all we deal with. We work with that really, really well, and, as a result, people respect us when it comes to our position in that sector.

What made you choose the property niche?

So, what made us choose property is that it's something I'm interested in. Even going back to when I was at school, I used to actually skive off school, pretend to my mum that I was sick just so I could watch Homes Under The Hammer. Because I'd be watching that and seeing these people making £20,000, £30,000, £40,000 in six weeks, when I'm thinking, "Hang on a minute, that's what the average person makes in a year, why do I need to go to school? I can just do this." So, I've always been interested in property in that regard. But, unfortunately, my mum made sure that I got a real job, so I became an accountant. But, that interest in property was always still there, so that followed through throughout my career as an accountant.

And then, when it came to specialising, I thought, "Hang on a minute, there's a lot of people that invest in property." Thankfully, I got into it just at the right time from a tax point of view, when they actually changed it so the mortgage interest restrictions and those finance costs weren't disallowed. So, more people than ever opened limited companies, which are the juicier fees from our point of view. So, it actually made it a really good profitable time to go into that niche.

What do you do to market your services to your niche?

I've written a book, that's probably one of the biggest things we've done. That was quite recently, that was an absolute success, but previously to that, it was just pure content marketing, and being quite helpful. So, we've got one of the largest property Facebook groups out there. We've got I think it's 14,000 people in there, all property investors. So, we regularly share content in there, people ask questions, I engage with people, members of the team do as well, answer any small questions they've got. Because, if you help someone now, then when they need help, they might be with a current accountant, but at the end of the day, they're not happy with them, so it's only a matter of time before they see your good level of service and come to you anyway. So, we've got the Facebook group, email list, YouTube channel, podcast, books, free resources. I think that's about it.

What have been the benefits of niching for your firm?

Picking a niche has been absolutely massive, because of the marketing message you put out. When you're trying to market to everybody, if you say, "Yeah, I can help you if you're a hairdresser, gym owner, personal trainer, X, Y, Z." You've got a massive long list, that's a really cold marketing message. You're just one of many. Whereas, when we put stuff out, the person we want to see that, it hits them straight in the head. They're looking, "Are you a property investor and you want to save tax?" "Yeah." "Are you claiming these expenses?" We can put a message out there, and because we know our niche, it hits them personally and actually resonates with them and makes them think about it, so it has a much bigger impact. In terms of the fees as well, because we've picked that niche, and we've basically established our authority in it, writing the book, the YouTube channel, podcast, things like that, people want to work with us. Often, people don't care about the price, they know that, "At the end of the day, Josh, JSM, they're going to get the job done, they do it well, these guys are the people to be working with." So, it's just a case of, "Where do I sign?"

Can you have more than one niche?

It's definitely worth having a niche, but you can actually get away with having two or three different specialisms, especially as your team does grow. That's something that we're going through now as well. So, I'm still looking after the property niche, but then we are bringing in people that will be looking after different sectors. Whether that's small businesses, whether that's online content creators, and things like that. That's what we're doing, but we're doing that as part of a targeted marketing strategy, which is niching. Niching is basically a marketing plan, but then you do need the technical resources to back it up.

If you've got an existing client base and that works for you, that's fine. A lot of local practices do get that. If they've got a lot of local clients, word-of-mouth, taxi drivers, takeaways, you can run a good business doing it. But, for me, it was a lot harder because you didn't have that existing client base. We had to go out there and get every single one of our clients, which we've got just under 200 clients in about two and a half years, so it was very fast paced. And, all of that has been made possible through having a niche from day one.

Do you want to learn how Pixie helped Joshua to grow and scale his fast growth firm?

"It’s helped us to be more organised. We’ve grown fast, and we couldn’t have done it without Pixie in place. It has allowed us to grow and scale."

Read here to discover how using Pixie helped JSM to grow and scale more efficiently.

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