When an accountant starts their own accounting firm, they quickly realize that to be a successful business owner they need more than accounting knowledge. They need to wear a lot of hats in their own business — and two of the most important are sales and marketing.
Even if they have 10 years of accounting experience and are a very good accountant, they cannot have a full roster of clients on day one.
Looking for new clients for your accounting firm may seem difficult, but is not impossible. It doesn’t require you to be a salesperson from day one. There are many ways to find your own clients like using new social media marketing and traditional face-to-face strategies. These new clients with help you start building a successful accounting business.
Here is what you need to know to find your first client for your accounting firm:
Spread the word
Don’t be shy about letting people know you’ve gone out on your own. Let people know you started your own accounting firm and currently have openings for new clients. Word-of-mouth is a very effective tool when it comes to finding new clients as people generally seek recommendations when considering a purchase. Chances are that either someone in your circle of friends or someone they know needs your accounting expertise. Try your best to spread the word about your exciting new venture and be sure to always keep plenty of business cards on hand.
Be clear about what you do
To onboard a client, you need to be about to pitch them your services, articulate what you do and how you can help them. Simply saying “I’m an accountant” is never enough. You need to be more specific about the services you provide. Do you do bookkeeping, accounting cleanups, payroll, and taxation or are you a specialized accounting consultant? Any promotional marketing you do to help get your first client will always be more effective if you clearly express what you do, and explain everything in terms of the benefits and impact on the client.
Volunteer your services
Although it might seem a little excessive at first, one of the best ways to get people referring to your services is to give them value first. It is true that you will always get paid for the services and expertise you provide. However, when you need to kick things off, some pro bono work always helps. There are many ways you can do this:
- Offer to handle the accounting jobs of some local group you are a part of
- Help your friends and family out with some accounting consultancy
- Volunteer your services at local Small Business Development Centers or similar resources
The more people get to know you, your accounting firm, and the services you provide, the easier it will be to find paying clients. And don’t be shy to ask for referrals — even if it’s just for volunteer work.
Be an online and in-person resource
It’s always better to attract potential clients, rather than cold calling and chasing prospects down. A great way to build your visibility and reputation is to get yourself out there as a solid resource in your specific area of expertise. How? Write helpful articles for your local paper or relevant websites. While you can’t promote yourself in the article, you can usually include a link to your website or contact information. Participate in Facebook and LinkedIn groups and provide helpful (not self-promotional) answers when you can. Or, you can teach classes for your target client (i.e., small business owners) through the Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Development Center, or other organizations.
Once you do land your first few clients, do all that you can to provide them with great service and build a friendly relationship. That is how you get word of mouth and momentum going. Focus on helping, rather than hard-selling, and you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to make great connections with opportunities for great clients.