Grow Your Practice With Micro Business Clients
Micro businesses represent a unique segment of “small business” and the American Dream, and serve as my main client base. Though micro businesses usually employ less than five people, they comprise more than 90 percent of all businesses in the United States and represent a unique niche that can be leveraged to help grow your own accounting practice.
Why Micro Business Clients are Part of Practice Growth
The owners (and sometimes sole employees) of micro businesses tend to network with similar professionals. These folks often commiserate with one another and share ideas, problems and solutions. Bringing value to a micro business client may likely grow your client base through referrals and word-of-mouth.
Generally speaking, the accounting needs of micro businesses aren’t overly complex or complicated either. The size of micro businesses means the needs of one are not too different from the needs of another. A small graphic designer, for instance, will not have discernibly different accounting needs from a self-employed consultant. This means the time and effort of adding them to your portfolio is minimal and doesn’t negatively impact the service you provide to your existing clients. It also does not require you to learn the intricacies of each client’s industry.
The loss of a micro business client also has limited impact on your bottom line. The continued growth by your remaining clients will quickly replace the loss of income, while you work at finding new clients to add to your portfolio.
Leveraging Referrals and Networking to Capture Micro Business Clients
Last spring, I had a phone call with the owner of a micro business with whom I did not feel I would be the best fit for. Despite that, I answered his questions and then explained to him my reasons for being unable to properly serve him. At the end of our conversation, I referred him to a bookkeeper I knew who could provide him the level of expertise he needed.
The owner recognized the value I provided him during our conversation and realized I would be a great fit to work with his son, who had just started a micro business of his own. The value I demonstrated to the owner created an opportunity for me to earn his referral.
It’s important to develop healthy relationships with fellow bookkeepers. When a micro business grows too large for me to work with, I’ll refer them to a another bookkeeper who specializes in the client's industry. Likewise, firms that prefer not to work with micro businesses will often refer their smaller leads to me.
When I worked in insurance, one particular competitor worked with high-risk drivers and would ask local agencies to refer high-risk drivers to them. When the high-risk drivers were deemed safe again, our competitor would refer them back to the referring insurance agent. This is the same strategy that can help you capture micro business clients.
Facebook, Meetup and other platforms are excellent sources for small “random” networking events that aren’t necessarily subject to a strict schedule. Personally, I’ve been part of a few small women’s networking and motherhood groups that helped me build up my own network.
Planned networking events hosted by organizations, such as Biz to Biz, LeTip or BNI, also present the opportunity to grow your network and capture micro business clients – or develop relationships with businesses that can help you bring added value to clients.
The Unique Needs of Micro Business Clients
You’re usually one of the first professionals a micro business will have a business relationship with. As such, they will tend to turn to you for advice on how to solve most of their issues. This sets you up as their most trusted advisor and means you’ll set the standard for what they expect from bookkeepers and other professionals.
Micro businesses are usually more appreciative than larger companies and will have fewer expectations from you. In turn, you can work toward molding them into not only the ideal client, but also a successful business by setting them up with systems that work.
Even after micro business clients outgrow your firm, they’ll probably continue to turn to you for second opinions. You’ll be able to continue to provide value (and stay in their network!) for an incredibly small time commitment.
Micro Business - But Not Micro Growth
Understanding what’s best for micro business clients helps you gear toward providing them with the best service. The value you provide your micro business clients helps create a ripple effect in their networks, helping to grow your practice through referrals and personal testimony – and you can't put a price on either of these benefits. By leveraging referrals and networking, there’s a large potential for the quick growth of your practice.