Starting and growing a new accounting firm is hard work.
Starting and growing a new accounting firm during a national lockdown is even harder!
We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Karen Kennedy from Kennedy Accountancy to learn more about how she grew her firm from 0 to 48 clients in 6 months without being able to meet up with anybody face to face.
It's an incredible achievement and one we wanted to highlight as part of our #learnfromyourpeers campaign.
You can watch or read the interview with Karen below.
Tell us about yourself...
I'm Karen Kennedy. I run a business called Kennedy Accountancy based in the Highlands of Scotland. I started the business in October last year (2020) in lockdown. And I have got so far 48 clients. So a real mix. No particular niche, other than my niche is the local community.
How did you grow from 0 to 48 clients in 6 months during a national lockdown?
I was a finance director of a college and luckily, handed my notice in and had three months notice to work.
I started doing some preparatory work in the background and then went full time - got my first client at the end of October (so really, the start of November). I had a few people that I was helping out on an informal basis because I didn't have a practising certificate, so they came on board as clients.
I did an advert in the local paper and got my first few clients and it's just grown from there - and grown quite organically in terms of referrals. But also, I discovered a woman called Karen Rayburn who runs the Profitable Firm, so I've been working with them on marketing using social media, nothing game-changing. But just getting my face out there and talking about my values and things like that. And yeah, that's really how it's grown to 48 now. So, it's growing a lot quicker than I anticipated, but there's still room for more growth yet, which is really exciting.
What marketing activities were you doing to support this growth?
So in terms of marketing, as I said, I'm very much community focused. I live in quite a rural area and everyone knows everyone to a certain degree. So, the first bit of marketing I did was that newspaper advert and that really worked for me, just to let people know. Because obviously we were in lockdown and no one was seeing anyone. So it was even just that way of letting people know what I was doing.
But I wasn't working with Karen at that point. So it was very much a clinical, "I am an accountant and bookkeeper, this is what I can do for you". But through working with Karen, I've been working on my brand and my company values. So, I'm really excited about the rebrand that's happening and I'm redoing my website. And I think that initial advert really helped. And regular posting on social media.
I'm also doing a 100 day challenge of posting on my business Instagram every day. Well, I don't do a Sunday, but every day for 100 days. And video does not come naturally to me, but what does come naturally? Not very much in life. So that's a cop-out. So, if there's other accountants out there saying, "Oh, I hate video," just do it. Especially with Instagram Stories, it's gone after 24 hours. And really, who cares? If you feel stupid, it really doesn't matter. But once you start doing it, it gets easier. The posts I get most engagement aren't about accountancy or tax. They're about my little boys running around or the lovely place that I live. So, I definitely recommend finding whatever platform speaks to your clients. And I'm using it consistently because I suppose it's like anything in life, do it consistently and you get results.
What kind of content do you share on social media?
I think that's one of the key things to remember is that there's so many accountants and bookkeepers out there, but you've got to set yourself apart. And I think posting about the latest tax changes is good. And I do do that as well, but there's an assumption I know about tax and things already. I'm not in competition with other accountants over who can do the best tax return for the cheapest amount. I'm about community. I'm about why I'm doing what I'm doing, for my family. So, I think it's important for people to realise that. And also, for people that perhaps don't align with those values will know that that's not really my cup of tea or they won't resonate with me.
So, I think it's really important that it's not just a faceless accountancy business. And you got to speak to people and have that balance of professionalism and knowledge, but also be a person and not a robot.
Do you want to learn more about how Pixie helped Karen to keep things under control over the last few months?
"My overwhelm reduced dramatically. I can now go into Pixie and look at what’s coming up without feeling overwhelmed by a million different tasks".