What Exactly Do You Do?

[ Effectively sell your business to attract the ideal client ]
by Melissa Campbell Published

You're at a networking event or a friend's barbeque and inevitably the question comes up "what do you do for work?"

When you answer with your job title you can watch people's eyes glaze over as they make assumptions on what an "accountant" or "plumber" or "teacher" does on a day to day basis.

Or you give your elevator pitch [for me] "I work with small business owners using proven strategies to ensure their business success and peace of mind" and can practically see them thinking "yeah, but what does that exactly mean?"

There are numerous articles and video tips about how you can "sell" or "present" your business to attract the ideal client, however, I'm not sure this shows prospective clients what their experience will be if they work with me, so I have put some thoughts below. 

For me, an accountant is not someone who crunches the numbers or keeps the tax office happy, but rather is someone who provides accountability.

This means:

  • Being available for clients to run ideas or concerns past;
  • Being able to offer fresh perspectives;
  • Offering expert analysis or advice from a financial, cash flow, funding or taxation point of view;
  • Ensuring clients have the tools they need to plan, budget, record and measure both their financial and non-financial Key Performance Indicators;
  • Introducing other experts where required to ensure clients can meet their goals and obligations, be it obligations to themselves, their families, their employees or the tax office.

I have been working with a small business owner, Tom [name changed to protect the innocent], for a couple of years now. During this time, Tom has been able to increase his business' turnover, run more efficiently, retain key employees and begin to reduce his business debts rather than building on them. Clearly, Tom has made all these changes happen. He knows his business, his employees, his obligations and his aspirations far better than I could ever hope to.

So where do I come in? On a regular basis I have enjoyed the privilege of reviewing his financials, making observations about costs or revenue [or other areas] and these better business meetings have helped him set and maintain targets. I have often been on the phone whenever something changes in his business or when different opportunities come up. He even calls me when he knows I won't necessarily give him the advice he'd like to hear. Tom has trusted me to be a sounding-board, even though he knows more about his chosen industry than I could ever learn. He has allowed me to test out various techniques regarding planning, goal-setting and working with monthly targets, and has even been subjected to my draft blogs!

So I'm thinking about changing my elevator pitch.

Perhaps, it goes more like this: "I work closely to encourage, support and provide external accountability to business-owners. We talk on the phone, sit down over coffee or muddle through their computer software together until we can define, plan for and implement their business goals. Oh, and I can also do your tax return!"

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