Use Problem Solving to Attract Niche Clientele to Your Accounting Firm

Small businesses are absolutely critical to the health and wellbeing of the US economy. In fact, the U.S. Small Business Administration reports that 99.7% of all the companies in our nation fall into the small business category (less than 500 employees), and these businesses provide jobs for about half of all US employees. Unfortunately, the SBA also reports that 30% of small businesses fail within the first two years, and 50% fail within the first five. Why?

Two significant roadblocks get in the way of most companies vying to make it out of the startup phase; time and money.

The Underserved and Overlooked

Small business owners often struggle to find cost-effective solutions for day-to-day business challenges. One of the biggest pitfalls many owners face is being ill-prepared to manage their money effectively.


Not surprisingly, many enterprising entrepreneurs fall in love with the idea of turning their passion project into a profitable business but aren’t well-versed on standard business accounting processes. These business owners often fail to identify profitable margins, develop accurate P&Ls, identify and minimize budget waste, handle payroll, manage sales tax, and so on.

That’s where you come in.

As a trained, licensed accountant, you're a small business owner’s ideal success coach. There are lots of reasons a reasonable monthly fee is well worth the cost of having an expert number cruncher available to answer questions as they arise. So how do you convince business owners you're the right person for the job?

Use well-thought value propositions that appeal to frustrated business owners and offer solutions to common business problems. Below, we’ll provide you with compelling value propositions you can use in your marketing to make your services attractive to underserved small business owners.

Getting Started Guru


Starting a new business is stressful and overwhelming, especially for first-timers. Aspiring business owners want to intelligently allocate money to ensure a healthy business and consistent growth. But how do you figure out how to do that when everyone you ask has a different opinion? Enter the accountant, a knowledgeable ally who has spent years helping small business owners succeed.

Who You Attract:
New companies that are funded but have holes in their team, especially when it comes to managing their budget and finances.

What You Offer:
Position yourself as an experienced number analyzer who’s available to coach aspiring business owners through the setup process. Offer to provide guidance on must-dos when it comes to financial regulation and compliance on everything from payroll to sales tax. You can also help quantify the most efficient and effective way to allocate limited funds. Consider offering money management best practices and suggestions on what accounting software to use as well.

If you’ve been at this for a while, be sure to present your track record of success with clients that you’ve helped. Include information on how you assisted them in building a budget, reinvesting profits, and maximizing returns.

“As an accountant, I can help you put systems in place that will save you time and allow you to focus on what you love.”

Professional Penalty Avoider

Business owners have the burden of tracking and meeting dozens of reporting deadlines throughout the year. And guess how many have fees for late and nonfiling? Yep, pretty much all of them.

Who You Attract
Business owners who fear penalties or those who have faced penalties before and have decided it's worth the expense to hire someone to keep their finances in order.

What You Offer:
Filing deadlines are tricky to navigate, even for tenured business owners. So it's no surprise that new business owners often quickly become overwhelmed by the sheer number of filing deadlines they have to keep track of.

If you're seeking high-volume internet resellers, explain that you'll handle deadline tracking and tax filings. By using a third-party expert, your client will save tons of time, and it'll help them avoid costly late and nonfiling penalties. If you're targeting business owners in industries with heavy-handed oversight, provide examples of how you've helped prior clients navigate similar regulatory issues.

Certified Number Analyzer

On the surface, the concept of accounts payable and accounts receivable seems pretty straightforward. However, there are a lot of nuanced ways to mismanage money. Even though they mean well, many novice business owners aren’t well-studied when it comes to identifying comprehensive performance indicators and regularly assessing areas of opportunity to improve.

Who You Attract:
Business owners who have seen some success that they're looking to understand how to evaluate performance and make data-driven business decisions that will lead to long-term growth.

What You Offer:
Your expertise can be used to help your clients set measurable business goals, and you can teach clients how to track progress towards attaining goals. Perhaps more importantly, you can explain how to course correct if data shows performance is lacking.

You may get pushback from clients, suggesting they have ‘software that handles that for them.’ But the truth is, busy business owners are commonly strapped for time and don’t know how to effectively assess data, evaluate trends, and comprehend how the graphs on the page impact their overall business.

This group often needs guidance to learn why it’s powerful to run detailed purchase reports and carefully analyze accounts receivable aging reports. You can provide that insight, along with detailed explanations and examples of exactly what can be gained or lost by making various changes. This attention to detail and constant evaluation can have a tremendous impact on a business's bottom line.

Most business owners don't have time for the financial analysis that accountants can perform.

Data-Driven Decision Assessor


Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to making big business decisions that can have a significant impact on cash flow. As an experienced accountant, you're the perfect partner for business owners looking to weigh the pros and cons and make critical decisions.

Who You Attract:
Companies at a pivot point; they've experienced some growth and are looking to assess data and make smart decisions that will continue to propel their business forward.

What You Offer:
Confident decision-making skills. Would hiring extra help for the busy season or purchasing new equipment be a fiscally sound option right now? As an accountant, you always have a data-driven grasp on the financial health of your client’s business - and that’s invaluable. Especially when making the wrong decision can be irreparably costly. Having the ability to use past performance data to present the most likely scenario, the best case scenario, and the worst case scenario makes you a key player on any team.

A good accountant can help you access the financial information you need when you need it.

Year-End Chaos Comptroller

The end of the year always goes by so fast. Halloween becomes New Year’s Day, and somehow, business owners are expected to have their accounting in order so they can effectively close out the year. It’s a lot to manage all at once, and that’s where you come in.

Who You Attract:
Business owners scrambling to get it all done who recognize the need to call for backup.

What You Offer:
Consider offering one-time-services and focus on knocking it out of the park. Doing so can lead to longer-term employment. Wow your new client by providing a snapshot of their business’s overall financial health, and offer guidance on how to improve fiscal outcomes.

Let clients know if there are steps they can take to minimize tax liability, if there are obvious inventory issues, or if there are other opportunities you find during your analysis that’ll help them have a better new year. Sometimes a few small changes can make a big difference to your client’s bottom line when it comes time to close the books. And once you've stepped in and they realize the potential, they may be happier to shell out for a long-term partnership.

Cash Flow Connoisseur


Behind every healthy business is someone who makes data-driven cash flow decisions. Any misstep - from a poorly-timed leap of faith with a new manufacturer to an overseas shipping issue that results in damaged goods - can bring a business to its knees.

Who You Attract:
Businesses with strong sales but suboptimal profit margins looking for answers.

What You Offer:
As an experienced accountant, you can help entrepreneurs avoid risky business. You know what reports need analyzing, how often to re-evaluate, and what red flags to look for when it comes to cash flow issues. Has there been a change in a customer’s paying habits that could signal trouble ahead? Do you have a more substantial tax liability this year than last? Is it time to re-negotiate payment terms with a big vendor? The answers to these questions relate directly to the health of your client’s overall cash-flow process. Help your clients minimize unwelcome surprises and plan for maximum profitability.

Your accountant is there to help you minimize unwelcome surprises and maximize profitability.

Audacious Audit Handler

Having an accountant who knows your books well, and having an accounting system in place that was set up to conform to accounting standards will put you ahead of the curve if the IRS or a state taxing authority comes knocking. And in the unfortunate event of an audit, your accountant can take the burden off your shoulders and guide you through the process as painlessly as possible.

Who You Attract:
Potentially panicky business owners looking for guidance on how to handle an audit and reassurance the process will be managed with the utmost care.

What You Offer:
Compliance is ridiculously complicated - especially with rapidly changing laws that vary by state, city, and county. Keeping up with all of it is indeed a full-time job. That’s why, as an accountant, keeping your client’s business compliant is a much-needed service that helps owners minimize extensive management hours and expensive fines.

Eagle-Eye Regulation Monitor

Regulations, tax rules, state and federal laws that relate to day-to-day operations change frequently. As an accountant, it’s your job to know and understand the financial implications these changes have on your client’s businesses.

Who You Attract:
Business owners in high-regulation industries who are struggling to make sense of it all (ie; high-volume online sellers with complex economic nexus requirements, companies working within the confines of government contracts, re-sellers of medical devices, food, or other products with lots of oversight).

What You Offer:
You’re already intimately aware of the amount of regulation that’s imposed on businesses in a variety of industries. No need for your clients to spend hours researching laws, regulations, and codes - all written in legalese - only to google the laymen’s term version and still be confused. Being able to simplify complex regulatory guidelines into words anyone can understand is a great skill to have, and it’s one your clients will come to love about you. Provide clients with a guidebook or list of regulatory policies that will impact their business, and offer easy to comprehend explanations on how compliance and noncompliance can positively or negatively impact their bottom line. Link to valuable resources where possible and make yourself available for questions as they come up.

Experienced Growth Manager

It’s the irony of the business world, but it happens every day: too much growth too quickly can kill a business. Planning ahead means having a clear picture of the implications of any changes you may make, like additions to your product line or expansion to new locations.

Who You Attract:
Business owners who experienced fast success, struggled to keep up, and now need guidance on how to optimize operations moving forward.

What You Offer:
A lack of foresight can mean game over for business owners, but you can help. Use your experience to help your clients successfully plan and manage growth while sidestepping any potential disasters. Positioning this particular skillset can be especially beneficial to clients who are known to be quick decision makers. You know the type; the fearless leader who risks it all on a big leap of faith and crosses their fingers for a positive outcome. Teaching business owners how to use data to identify potential gains and losses can help you reign in sometimes reckless risk takers.

Proven Payroll Analyzer


Much like tax compliance, payroll has a lot of rules and regulations in place to protect business owners and employees, respectively. And, big surprise, it can be complicated to manage - especially for business owners bringing on their first contractors or employees.

Who You Attract:
Companies that are just starting to hire employees, or those who recently moved from hiring contractors to hiring non-exempt staff.

**What You Offer: **
You likely often see the same mistakes when it comes to paying employees correctly. Have you had business owners assume overtime pay won’t be required? Did one of your clients neglect to deduct the correct tax percentage from a commission or bonus check? As an experienced accountant, you know what to look out for and can advise clients on how to structure payroll and on what mistakes to avoid. You can help clients make sure each worker is appropriately classified and can identify and explain when exemptions apply and when they don’t. You can also help sort out W-2’s and 1099s, and other IRS forms when tax season rolls around.

Experienced Accountant: The Next Best Thing to a Crystal Ball

Some of the past legends of business seemed to have magical powers that allow them to see into the future and position themselves and their businesses in a way that leaves them poised for growth. While there are crystal balls on the market, we’re yet to find one that displays the path to business success. Luckily, having an experienced accountant on your side is the next best thing.

Use the value propositions above to position yourself as a business ally and attract and retain new clients. Make it known that you’re an expert who can help clients avoid costly mistakes, simplify regulatory and tax compliance, and pave the path of least resistance to steady, controlled growth and incorporate those messages into your marketing.

Robert Schulte

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