Business services: How long did it take you to grow?

Discussion in 'General Business Forum' started by Count, Nov 26, 2018.

  1. Count

    Count UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    I quit my job and started an accountancy practice about a year ago, I didn't expect to pick up hundreds of clients in the first year, but I had no idea it would be so tricky.

    Would be great to hear from others who provide services to businesses such as accountants, solicitors and so.

    I do work from home, so wondered if this might put people off but tbh most of the serious enquires I've had I've won, they wouldn't be able to tell I work from home prior.

    I have started another PPC campaign and have cranked up on the local advertising so will hopefully get some pick up from this.

    ETA: I am very tempted to get an office with road side frontage, this should help me get local presence, although the repairing lease terms and general high rents concern me.
     
    Posted: Nov 26, 2018 By: Count Member since: Nov 26, 2018
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  2. AllUpHere

    AllUpHere UKBF Ace Free Member

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    I see this literally every day, people start a business, and only then think about marketing. Do you have any kind of marketing plan in place? Even in your own mind, if not on paper?
     
    Posted: Nov 26, 2018 By: AllUpHere Member since: Jun 30, 2014
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  3. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

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    When I look around for an accountants I'm focusing on the service I want, the price, the reputation (if there is one) of the accountant firm, the packages they use / supply and what they are after.

    Where they work from is irrelevant. Current accountant works at a distance, no idea if she works from home or an office and not bothering to ask her.

    Do you promote your business as the type of business it is or do you promote the solutions to problems that you offer?
     
    Posted: Nov 26, 2018 By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
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  4. Count

    Count UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Yes I did, when I started I did PPC, local advertising and then Social media and networking.
     
    Posted: Nov 26, 2018 By: Count Member since: Nov 26, 2018
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  5. Mark T Jones

    Mark T Jones UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

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    Networking can work very well for this type of business - there are bound to be lots of events near to you free and paid)

    Have you defined who your ideal customer and what your proposition is?
     
    Posted: Nov 26, 2018 By: Mark T Jones Member since: Nov 4, 2015
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  6. Gordon - Commercial Finance

    Gordon - Commercial Finance UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

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    I was at the Scottish Business Exhibition in Glasgow last week, and I attended a networking type of event set up by one of exhibitors. There's never likely to be anyone attending that kind of event who would be of any use to me in terms of direct revenue, however I did find myself thinking that this kind of event would be ideal for someone like an accountant to speak to 20 different businesses at a time where they're looking to make crucial decisions.
     
    Posted: Nov 26, 2018 By: Gordon - Commercial Finance Member since: Jun 26, 2017
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  7. AllUpHere

    AllUpHere UKBF Ace Free Member

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    You say yes, but actually you mean no. Those things are just promotional marketing tools, not marketing strategies. If you used them without first formulating a strategic marketing plan, that's why you have been disappointed with the results.
     
    Posted: Nov 26, 2018 By: AllUpHere Member since: Jun 30, 2014
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  8. Aaron_T

    Aaron_T UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    As mentioned above when planning your market strategy, you may also want to focus on an actual group of customers as your niche. As my background is property and property investment, I needed to find an accountant with experience in that field. First, find the niche that you will service, create a marketing plan to meet with those types of people/businesses then use the marketing tools that you mentioned to contact them.
     
    Posted: Nov 28, 2018 By: Aaron_T Member since: Nov 27, 2018
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  9. crelding

    crelding UKBF Regular Free Member

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    I found my current accountant from the Xero database of accountants that use Xero. He was the fastest and best at email comms, and registered with an accounting body. Never been to his office, but I know its about an hour away.

    Wouldn't mind if he worked at home. His firm is just him and his wife.

    If you offer Xero, then I'd make sure you are on their data base. I think you can even be a sliver/ gold partner?
     
    Posted: Nov 28, 2018 By: crelding Member since: Sep 25, 2012
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  10. Paul Norman

    Paul Norman UKBF Ace Free Member

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    As implied above this is the classic micro business scenario.

    1. Choose business
    2. Buy desk for spare room
    3. Be amazed at the lack of a rush.

    Working from home is not, I suspect, that much of a hindrance, although now I think of it I kind of like it that my accountant has an office.

    But that is not crucial. You need customers. They are not going to find you unless you make yourself visible to them. And that takes a LOT of hard work. Networking. Social Media. Trade shows/business exhibitions. Leaflets. Cold calls. Probably all of those and more.

    And getting your first client is the hardest. That awkward question about who else are your customers! You need to have your answer ready.

    Oh. How long. Well, we are still growing. But it took a year before we were generating cash, and a further year to recover the investment in marketing. Obviously, we are not accountants, though. We make websites.
     
    Posted: Nov 28, 2018 By: Paul Norman Member since: Apr 8, 2010
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  11. Gordon - Commercial Finance

    Gordon - Commercial Finance UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

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    If I asked an accountant who their customers were and they rhymed off a list of names, I would not go with them. There's an accountant who shares too much information.
     
    Posted: Nov 28, 2018 By: Gordon - Commercial Finance Member since: Jun 26, 2017
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  12. dotcomdude

    dotcomdude UKBF Regular Full Member

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    I started working from home 8 years ago. I provide web development and digital/technical marketing services to a handful of small businesses.

    I stopped looking for new clients about 5 years ago - but I'd say the only thing I found that was cost-effective and worked, was to cold call businesses that I thought I could help - offering them a no-obligation chat to explain how I thought I could help them.

    I literally did that for about 5 weeks, and haven't touched it since. (I didn't actually do the cold-calling myself, I just had someone do it for me). The conversion rate of appointment to long-term client was very high - say 20% or so.

    To use something as passive and costly as PPC, you'd need to have a really well-thought-out marketing strategy and conversion funnel - as well as a super website. Otherwise you will just be burning money and pushing up the price of a click in your local market.
     
    Posted: Nov 28, 2018 By: dotcomdude Member since: Jul 27, 2018
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  13. Paul Norman

    Paul Norman UKBF Ace Free Member

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    Valid point!
     
    Posted: Nov 28, 2018 By: Paul Norman Member since: Apr 8, 2010
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  14. Mark T Jones

    Mark T Jones UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

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    They are both valid points, however in many cases the account's name is plastered over filed accounts.

    however, in reality what you want to give out is an indication of the type of business you are dealing with to ascertain relevant expertise
     
    Posted: Nov 28, 2018 By: Mark T Jones Member since: Nov 4, 2015
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  15. Ian J

    Ian J Factoring Specialist Full Member - Verified Business

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    My accountant works from home and it didn't put me off and come to think about it I work from home too
     
    Posted: Nov 28, 2018 By: Ian J Member since: Nov 6, 2004
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  16. BusterBloodvessel

    BusterBloodvessel UKBF Regular Free Member

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    Please don’t think having a retail shop front is the answer to your prayers. I have seen countless accountants/will planners/financial planners convert retail spaces into office shop fronts and wondered what the hell they are doing...I’ve seen most of them close too.

    Let’s say £500p/m to rent that space before you’ve paid any utilities. How many clients do you need to get spotting that and deciding to walk in and use your services before it’s paid for itself?!
     
    Posted: Nov 28, 2018 By: BusterBloodvessel Member since: Jan 22, 2018
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  17. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

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    Does this accountant's home not get a bit crowded with both of you working from it? :)
     
    Posted: Nov 28, 2018 By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
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  18. Noah

    Noah UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

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    All genuine entrepreneurs work from "home"; if you don't sleep on the floor of your office 4 days out of seven you're not a genuine entrepreneur.

    How else are you going to keep an eye on motivate the peons class B shareholders?
     
    Posted: Nov 29, 2018 By: Noah Member since: Sep 1, 2009
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  19. Gordon - Commercial Finance

    Gordon - Commercial Finance UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

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    I found my accountant because he had a big sign outside his business premises and I drove past it every day. That obviously wasn't the only reason I went with that firm, I met up with the principle and had a conversation and made sure I felt comfortable etc etc but that was the initial intro - the sign outside.
    Maybe it doesn't necessarily need to be a retail shop front idea....but if you're working from home could you shove a sign at the end of the garden? If its on a main thoroughfare....
     
    Posted: Nov 29, 2018 By: Gordon - Commercial Finance Member since: Jun 26, 2017
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  20. Ian J

    Ian J Factoring Specialist Full Member - Verified Business

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    I found mine because she used to post on here but no longer does. That was way back in the day when people used to try and be helpful and not just tout for business like so many do nowadays.
     
    Posted: Nov 29, 2018 By: Ian J Member since: Nov 6, 2004
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