Do You Truly Need an Ideal Client?

Is it possible to successfully grow your accounting practice without ever choosing an ideal client? Absolutely!

Many firms prefer to serve a wide range of clients. Variety, they believe, means more potential clients. Choosing a niche, they claim, limits their options. 

What if they choose the wrong niche? The accounting professionals I’ve spoken to express concern about losing clients who wouldn’t fit into that industry category. 

On the other hand, newly formed firms typically start off working with everyone. In the beginning, variety will help them figure out if there’s a category they enjoy most. Or, you may naturally attract a target clientele, such as construction, to your firm. 

Here are five reasons to choose an ideal client:

  1. Aim.You’re more effective and efficient when you specialize. 
  2. Expert.Your firm gains expert status when you specialize. Your peers recognize you as an authority that solves a specific problem.
  3. Marketing.Targeted marketing is client attractive. You understand their primary needs and concerns. 
  4. Networking.Your ideal client attends industry specific conferences. This makes it easier to find them.  
  5. Income.Your accounting firm shifts from compliance to resource for your ideal client. Specialists earn more money than generalists.  

You’re in the business of customer satisfaction. Identifying your ideal client improves your marketing, advertising and sales process. 

Ready to Start?

Most firms start with identifying demographics. You gather data about marital status, location, earnings and education. These details, however, are static and boring. Something better exists.

Interested in an advanced move that I teach accounting professionals? Define the personality, habits, values and concerns of your target audience. These details, known as psychographics, let you connect with your ideal client on a meaningful, emotional level. During this step, my clients research the best way to serve their ideal client. They become highly familiar with their wants and needs.

Go Beyond a Traditional Client Profile

Now, let’s create your avatar. It’s a fancy word for a client profile. We want your avatar to represent a singular client filled with rich detail. I coach my clients to develop an avatar based upon their best ever client, instead of a purely fictitious person. 

Basically, your avatar influences your marketing and messaging. 

Specific is preferable

Amanda, a bookkeeper, went through this exercise with me. She never considered specializing; however, the idea intrigued her. Brenda, a chiropractor, was her best client. 

We discussed these specific questions:

  1. Clarity.Choose your top favorite client. Who do you highly enjoy working with? What does that person value about your services? List the exact results this client receives from your work together. 
  2. Changes.Now, consider the additional benefits, outcomes, transformations or changes that happened because they used your services?
  3. Consequences.How would things have been different if they would have chosen NOTto work with you? Be creative with your answer since it’s hypothetical.
  4. Challenges.Your ideal client experiences specific challenges. Write them down. Then, highlight the ones that your accounting firm resolves.

Amanda described the results Brenda received. Amanda states, “Brenda was embarrassed to get started. All of her receipts were thrown into a shopping bag. I set Brenda’s practice up on QuickBooks Online. So, her books are now current. I taught her how to read reports and understand her finances. Plus, instead of getting an extension, she was proud to file her taxes on time without worrying about mistakes.”

Next, Amanda considered any additional benefits. She excitedly claimed, “Brenda plans to remodel her office. So, we’ve started budgeting for that project. Brenda made some changes in the services she offers her patients since she now knows which services are the most profitable. Recently, we discussed ways to generate more income. Because of that discussion, she’s adding a massage therapist to her practice. That additional income will help pay for the office remodel.”

What would have happened if Brenda continued to do her own bookkeeping? Those receipts would continue to pile up in the shopping bag next to her desk. She’d remain in the dark about her finances and cash flow. Late fees would continue accruing, as payment deadlines on her credit cards were missed. “Brenda would once again postpone getting her taxes done.” 

Finally, we discussed challenges. “Brenda hated bookkeeping. She didn’t like dealing with numbers or data entry. Passing this off to me was a relief. She knows her books are now current and proud that she can file her taxes on time.”

The idea of a practice filled with highly appreciative clients appealed to Amanda. Taking on their bookkeeping would free them up to do what they enjoyed most. 

Brenda attended a local chiropractor’s association meeting that met monthly. She invited Amanda to attend as a guest. As a result, a couple chiropractors asked to meet with Amanda.

Ideal Clients Make Things simpler

An ideal client simplifies things. Who do you highly enjoy working with and how do you help them? Go beyond the obvious. Discover how your accounting firm makes a difference for your clients. List the downside to someone not using your services. This is a hidden element that accounting firms typically overlook. These insights set the stage for everything else in your business. The process of attracting your ideal client simplifies once you answer these questions.