Are you your worst enemy?


I have been spending time mentoring fellow accountants in practise who have moved from the world of industry to working for themselves as accountants to SMEs.

As with many business owners one of their key problems is a lack of confidence, not in their abilities as accountants, but in determining the value they bring to their clients. This leads to them taking on work which is below their qualifications and experience, because it is easier to ‘sell’ lower level work if you don’t understand the value to clients of more challenging projects.

It is then very easy to get onto the tread mill of having to take on lots of low value clients/projects just to pay the bills. Because all their time is taken up servicing clients, rather than developing their business, they don’t have time to go after higher value work. This then means they find it very difficult to break out of the rut they have dug for themselves.

Another problem is that, even if they are trying to go after higher level projects, they are not clear enough on what their ‘perfect’ client looks like. To the ‘perfect’ client the work professionals can do for them is of real value. They want the service and are prepared to pay an appropriate fee for it.

Other clients may have been told they need the service but it has less value to them because they do not get why it is important to them. These clients will view a professional’s fees as a cost and are much more likely to want the service at a cut down fee. In this situation the management accountant (in this scenario) may still be in the position of doing a large number of hours for a relatively low rate and have the same problem as detailed above.

They have become their own worst enemy!

The key to understanding the value you can bring to customers is to talk to them! I know this sounds obvious but we are often put off from talking to our clients because we are afraid they will tell us something we don’t want to hear. However, it is more likely they will tell us something we DO want to hear!

If you don’t have any ‘perfect’ clients you will still have introducers and other business professionals with whom you can talk to chrystalise your value proposition.

Although this blog has focused largely on accountants the same problems can be found with other professional service providers and the solutions are the same:

– Have confidence in yourself and your abilities

– Understand the value your clients realise from what you do and charge accordingly

– Concentrate on projects in which you have particular expertise

– Identify your perfect clients and market to them

Become your best friend and give yourself the best chance of running the business you deserve

Fiona 🙂

Read all about it!

It is now 6 months since I started writing and distributing my newsletter Bright Business Bulletin and I have certainly learned a lot along the way.

I came up with the idea of producing a monthly printed newsletter at the Entrepreneur’s Convention back in September. Two clear messages of the Convention were that doing what every on else was doing was not a sensible way to stand out in business, and that if you have an idea you should act on it quickly. A perfect idea which is not put into action is worthless. However, an imperfect but relevant idea that comes to fruition will move you forward.

I have always liked the idea of producing a newsletter with genuinely useful information. I felt that sending out an e-newsletter would not be the best use of my time as most people receive many emailed newsletters but few actually get read.

So I decided that my newsletter had to be printed and sent out the old fashioned way by Royal Mail – in red envelopes of course! I would send it out to 80 people I thought would be interested and who I wanted to keep in touch with – clients, strategic introducers, business partners etc. (I have since made the newsletter available to download from my website).

For the October newsletter I had only 3 days to design my newsletter format, write the content, source envelopes, get it printed, stuffed in envelopes and posted (as well as doing the day job!), because I was due to go on holiday. It was tight but I did it!

Having just sent out my 6th newsletter I certainly feel a sense of achievement.

The feedback I have had has been really gratifying. People are clearly reading the newsletters and engaged enough to comment back to me about what they like, to thank me if I have featured their business, and take part in the competition I ran.

So what have I learned so far?

Firstly, and most importantly, have a format that is easy to follow each month, so you are not confronted by a blank sheet of paper. I have clear smallish sections that are easy to think about in isolation. For example, I have my Pooh quote of the month, Ask Jenny (my financial agony aunt column), featured business and partner, Michael’s minutes and dates for your diary, as standard columns.

Secondly, it may seem like a big commitment to do a newsletter monthly but, like blog writing, once you get into the habit it is relatively easy. It is difficult to get into a habit if you only do an activity irregularly or quarterly.

Finally, having sections about other people and their businesses is a great idea, because it is easier to write about others than ourselves, and readers love the fact that someone else is interested enough in them to write about them.

Now I am not worried about what I will write about each month but actually enjoy the challenge of creating something interesting.

So, if you are thinking about creating a newsletter don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it – just do it!

Fiona 🙂