Entrepreneurship is difficult and when you start your own firm it becomes even more difficult if you try and offer every service under the sun; a trap I started to fall into and got out of.
When I recently opened my practice, I struggled under the pressure of - if you don’t build a client base, your business will fail. This pressure led right into, if somebody asks you for accounting, tax, consulting (or anything in between) you take it! Because any client is better than no client. No cash flow means an unhappy wife. And we all know the saying “Happy wife= Happy life” most certainly holds true!
In talking to many practitioners who have at one time or another taken the entrepreneurial step into branching out on their own, this thought streamline is natural. But it should be resisted. Face it, you stepped into this new venture for any number of reasons, but one of them is surely that you wanted the flexibility to make an impact on your clients the way you saw fit. So why give up on this goal in the immediate panic of personal financial cash flow?
Ask yourself, what is it that you set out to accomplish? When I left the firm I was working at, I set off to focus solely on outsourced accounting solutions. I wanted to be the controller/CFO for small and medium sized businesses who were looking for flexibility with the knowledge and experience that I could provide. I wanted to help businesses grow, expand, and live the lives that they sought. I didn’t set out to be another “traditional” accounting firm. I didn’t set out to provide tax, consulting and audits for public companies.
So when you go out on your own, stick to your mission. If you don’t, you will most likely find yourself back in the unhappy position of reconsidering why you became an entrepreneur in the first place.
And when you find yourself wanting to take anything that (can potentially pay) rolls in the door, use the following steps to ensure you forge ahead with the work that will really make an impact:
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- Talk about the value that you provide - I found that when I first ventured off I struggled to communicate with others the value that I add in working with me. I started talking about what I could do, rather than why people need what I have. I found that the phrase, “I help small business owners live the lives they want” started off a positive conversation on the value that I add to small business. If your struggle to answer this question, ask yourself why you left your last position and what change you are looking to make. I bet you can find something short, sweet, and valuable within that self-examination.
- Contact your professional references – New projects aren’t coming in as fast as you would like? It’s understandable! Building new clients is difficult. Adding value to the relationships you have already established is a lot easier. Start calling and meeting with your current professional network and advise them of your availability and the projects that you are looking for. Most CPAs are overworked, give them a solution to this problem and communicate the value that you provide.
- Partner with other professionals in your space – Just because you are a CPA doesn’t mean that you can’t market your services. As I was beginning my practice I was interested in working with family held restaurants and professional service providers (insurance agencies, financial advisors, and law firms). As such, I looked around and figured out who else was working with these groups of people. Pulling from my network, I found a commercial realtor who was constantly providing office space in professional spaces. He linked me to the professional service providers. And on the restaurant side, I built a couple relationships with some restaurant suppliers – Voilà! New clients!
- Most of all be patient, be confident, keep growing and keep expanding. Take everything that you have learned in the past and carry on with that path. I promise, that you will be successful if you believe in yourself. As Theodor Herzl recited – “If you will it, it is no dream.”
Adam Blitz, CPA has 10+ years in public accounting. He works with professional service firms to enhance relationships with clients, vendors, staff and communities for the purpose of developing revenue streams. Adam also runs his own CPA practice – Get Blitzed Solutions. You can reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @getblitzed.