Building a bookkeeping business could be the next step in your professional evolution. And if you play your cards right, it could allow you to escape the doldrum of trading time for dollars and actually start scaling your income potential. But where do you start? Here are a few of our favorite suggestions.
Identify a Niche
When you’re first starting out, it’s tempting to work with anyone and everyone who will hire you. (After all, you probably don’t have people lining up at your door begging to work with you.) However, it’s a good idea to be focused and selective with the type of businesses you work with.
“We coach our clients, when they’re launching their bookkeeping businesses, to pick an industry where they can get their first few customers, and focus on that for a while,” Ben Robinson, founder of Bookkeepers.com, explains. “ It’s a lot easier to sell a new client on your ability to correctly manage the books for a restaurant business if they know you’re already doing that for several others—you’re not learning the nuances from scratch on their nickel.”
You can always expand your reach in the future, but having a specific niche allows you to grow much faster in the early stages of building your bookkeeping business.
Develop Your Own USP
Once you have a niche, you can develop your own Unique Sales Proposition (USP) that clearly communicates the value you provide to businesses in this space. A USP is a simple, one-sentence statement that explains what sets you apart. There’s no hard and fast rule for creating a USP, but one basic formula looks like this: “I help [target audience] achieve [biggest desire] without [pain point].”
Create a Strong Brand
Once you have a niche and USP, it becomes a lot easier to build your own brand. Now, when we say “build a brand,” we aren’t talking about investing thousands of dollars into designing logos and developing a complex website with a massive marketing funnel that indoctrinates people into your brand.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with these things, you don’t need a complex, multi-layered approach. Our biggest recommendation is to pick a platform – most likely LinkedIn – and focus on building a strong, cohesive presence there. Pay careful attention to your key profile elements, including your headline, banner, profile picture, and about section.
Find the Right Clients
One of the best ways to find clients is by joining business networking groups. You now own a business, which gives you an excuse to attend these groups and events with other business owners. And guess what every single person at these events needs? Help with their books. If you’re disciplined about regularly attending conferences and meetups, there’s no reason you can’t add your first three to five clients using nothing more than this method.
The easiest and most cost-effective way to scale your business is by gathering referrals from existing clients who are satisfied with your work. Before you invest a bunch of resources into advertising or cold calling, tap your existing roster of clients and see if they know of any other businesses that might need assistance.
Increase Your Rates
Raising rates for the first time is one of the most intimidating things you can do as a new business owner. It can create lots of fear and anxiety in your mind. Will my clients fire me? Will they think I’m trying to rip them off? Am I even worth the extra increase? If you find yourself sorting through these questions in your mind, you aren’t alone. However, these are nothing more than doubts disguised as questions.
Increasing rates is a normal part of doing business. It’s also the result of increased experience and skill (both of which come over time). The key is to never raise your rates too much in one fell swoop and to always provide an objective explanation.
Generally speaking, keep each rate increase to 10 percent or less each time. And here’s an important note: Never ask – tell! You’re not asking for permission to increase rates. You’re telling your client what your new rate is. They obviously have the ability to say no, which gives you a decision to make, but most clients will not do this if they’re satisfied with your work.
Adding it All Up
It takes time to build a successful business. It doesn’t matter if it’s a restaurant, software company, or bookkeeping business – growth and success take time to achieve. But if you start with the tips highlighted in this article and build your business from the ground up, good things will happen for you. It’s simply a matter of being patient and diligent as things grow.
Interesting Related Article: “A Brief Introduction to Bookkeeping Beginners“