Attracting small business clients to your accounting firm

How to get a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ to see you as a trusted advisor (and where to find them)

Small business owners are great at what they do, taking an idea that they’re passionate about (or they can see a need for) and building it into a business from the ground up. They’re often required to become a jack-of-all-trades – particularly in the early days – and are responsible for everything from sales to accounting. When it comes to the paperwork, many small business owners are left floundering, resenting the amount of time it takes them to tick the accounting box when they’d rather be building their company. 

While many may not think they can afford to engage an accountant, it’s up to you to explain to them just how much better off they’ll be with one on their side. Once you know how to make yourself indispensable to small business clients, you’ll want to find more of them. BOMA explains how to do both.

Explain how you’ll make their lives easier

Saving time, stress and money are three major drawcards for small businesses, and as an accountant, you can help them with this trio. Often, small businesses assume that accountants are only needed at tax time, so it’s crucial to explain to them how you’ll make their lives easier when it comes to:

  • Managing cash flow – revenue often comes in ebbs and flows for small businesses, and so do expenses. Explain to them how you’ll help them manage these so there’s always money in the bank to cover both expected and unexpected costs. It’ll help ease their cash flow woes, a major stressor for small business owners.
  • Budgeting – often small business owners won’t have the time or the know-how to sit down and work out a detailed budget. Run through the benefits of having a robust budget in place – not only will it give them a better understanding of their bottom line, but it’ll help identify how much money they can reinvest in the business and, importantly, what salary they can draw from it.
  • Getting debts in order – not all debts are bad, and as their trusted advisor, it’s up to you to give their current debts a once over, recommend the best options for repayments and ensure they’re not paying too much in interest. This is an area where your assistance is invaluable, as it can lead to significant cost savings.
  • Streamlining workflows – creating and sending invoices, chasing unpaid ones and keeping track of expenses are often tasks small business owners dread. Offer to take this headache away from them by recommending smart, automated systems that relieve much of the strain. As an accountant, you’ll understand what systems will work for each unique business.
  • Looking at the bigger picture – flying by the seat of your pants isn’t a sustainable long-term strategy, but for small business owners who are knee-deep in operations, it’s often difficult to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Explain how you can help them set realistic goals for their business’ future and stay accountable.

Where to focus your marketing efforts

Big-budget ad campaigns aside, several more affordable avenues effectively attract small business clients. Here’s where to start:

  • Referrals – with most small business owners being time-poor, they’re less likely to spend hours researching accounting firms and, instead, rely heavily on word of mouth. If you have current small business clients who are happy to advocate for your firm, consider offering them a small incentive for any referrals they make.
  • Social media – use your social media channels to showcase your small business expertise. Post helpful, relevant content like industry trends, regulatory changes that impact small businesses and targeted articles. This helps build your firm’s profile as a small business specialist.
  • Get networking – attend local events and seminars for small businesses and build your network. While it might be uncomfortable to approach these as an opportunity for your sales pitch, make them a way to understand the difficulties faced by small businesses so you can better serve their needs. If a new client comes out of it, that’s a bonus!
  • Tailor your website – whether through a bespoke package for small business clients, useful blog content, a page showcasing the services you can offer them or testimonials from other small businesses, make sure you are using your website to its full potential.
  • Partnerships – small business owners often need assistance from other specialists like investment brokers or lawyers. Partner with local businesses so you can offer small business clients a one-stop solution.

Understand the value you can add and promote it

Overall, it comes down to promoting the value you can offer to small business clients. If you can show them that you’ll make their lives easier, save them money and help them grow their businesses over the long term, you’ll quickly become an indispensable and valued part of their operation. 

Great marketing starts with a plan. Download BOMA’s Digital Marketing Guide for Accountants and Bookkeepers and learn how to promote your value like a pro.