For accountants, we often find it challenging to crack open the doors of small business to let us in to help. Sometimes, it is not what we do to encourage them, it is how we do it. Do you really know what your value is as a CPA or accountant, and can you confidently explain it to a potential client? In this episode, learn the ways you can recognize how small businesses actually need your help in three common scenarios and how you can show your value to them in a way that resonates. Increase your credibility and get more small businesses as clients as we dive in deep into bringing our value for them to see.
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What’s Your Value: Explaining Why Small Businesses Need An Accountant
We are discussing, do you know what your value is and can you confidently explain it to a potential client? One of the questions I hear the most often from accountants is, how do you explain to the small business owner what they need, why they need a CPA or an accountant and what’s your value? I understand probably why you have this concern because I’m a business owner myself and so many times small businesses will come to you with reasons that they don’t need a CPA. They don’t need a bookkeeper because maybe it’s too expensive or they say, “I can handle it myself.” In this episode, I will teach you how to recognize that small businesses do need you the most. After that, I’ll explain the three most common scenarios when an accountant is needed and specific ways you can help to show what your value is to a small business owner and how to articulate that value where it resonates with them. These examples should help you increase your credibility and the likelihood of getting more small business clients as clients. Let’s start the show.
We are talking about what your value is. What is your value to a client? What is your value to yourself? All those questions that you might be wondering. Now that tax season is way in the past, how do you explain your value to small businesses and clients that might need an accountant? I’m going to use myself as a personal example for you. When I started The Pitch Queen business or even when I had FITzee Foods, my last food company that I had, understanding from any accountant that I was working with, how to have them understand what their value was and how to articulate it to me seems to be one of the biggest challenges that I hear from many accountants. One of the questions that I hear the most is, “How do you explain that to your small business clients? How do you explain that someone like me needs a CPA, needs an accountant, needs a bookkeeper, needs a controller or a CFO depending on the size of the business?”
I completely understand why it’s a concern because a lot of small businesses will tell you, “You’re too expensive or I can handle it myself or I don’t need anyone else to do my books or my accounting.” I was lucky, my mom is my CFO. One of the things that I highly invested in personally as a business owner was in each of you. I have a bookkeeper, a CPA and a tax planner. I have it all and I think I understand the value but as a CPA or an accountant, articulating that value to your clients is the key ingredient to this whole thing. Getting to the root of that is my hope for you and that’s what I hope that you take away and can implement with all of your future business clients that you have coming to you.
In this episode, I will teach you how to recognize what small businesses need and what they need the most from you. After that, I will explain the three most common scenarios that when an accountant is interacting with a business, what is it that the business owner needs to hear from you? What’s the most important thing that your future client might need from you? How do you show that value to your client without just saying that you’re the greatest, you’re the smartest or you’re the best? One of my students in my class, Mike, used to call himself a sales whore. I love that analogy, and we’re going to have him on the Abundant Accountant podcast coming up, but he is to answer all of his clients’ questions for free and then wonder why they never engaged with him. This is a common thing that I see with a lot of CPAs and accountants. I am here to help turn that around so that you can help increase your credibility and the likelihood of getting more small business clients.It is important for you to know your value before you can ever articulate it to a future client. Click To Tweet
When Small Businesses Need Your Help
When you know small businesses need your help, and I’m going to use myself as the example, I’ve actually had a lot of entrepreneur friends lately. They even have me looking at their financials, “Michelle, how much longer do I have until I need to increase the money I’m making to cover my fixed costs?” If you look at most business owners now, they’re lost in their numbers. Most of them don’t have a clue. If you ever watch Shark Tank, how many of the sharks always tell the people, “You need to know your numbers.” How can you go and pitch an investor and not know your numbers? There are so many business owners that are lost and have no clue about where they stand financially or how much payroll they have going out if they even have that. Even one of the other students that I help in this last sales class, her name is Christine and I think she met with our client, we’ll call him Josh.
Josh had a business where he hadn’t even seen his financials in over six months and she was working with him on a profit first engagement, a business owner. A small business, they’re growing. They needed help to understand how much money it would require in order to make some investments. This guy was literally clueless. She was able to help him enroll the Profit First Engagement of $3,000 to $5,000. In the future, she was able to articulate her value to him by sharing, “Here is what I can help you with. Once you work on your numbers and understand your numbers, then we can move on to the next engagement.” She sold it in a two-part process, which was amazing. Also, just so you know that Christine had this client previously.
How do you convert a current client and really share with them what your value is? Before, this guy had no clue, but he didn’t even value himself. A lot of times too, as the business owner, you have to think, do you want to work with clients who don’t even look at their financials? That could be a thing. On Shark Tank, if you watch any of those pitches, for the entrepreneurs that go on and pitch and they’re doing $100,000 to $300,000 in revenue and they’re stumbling on their numbers, they don’t know what their cost of goods are. They don’t know how much profit per unit. They don’t know their revenue. They don’t know how many units sold. I would be a little leery of working with them.
For you, part of understanding what your value is thinking about who you are going to work with and who you’re not going to work with. If a business client comes to you and they’re really clueless but you know you can help them, they just need a little guidance because there are some of those business owners too that need your help. I think about, “Do you want to work with this person or do you not?” Here are some other ideas of when a business owner might need your help. They need help with legal structure. Should they be an S corp? Should they be a C corp? Should they be an LLC? These are all opportunities for you to offer a different service aka tax planning. Do they have a solid business system in place? Are they using QuickBooks online or Gusto for their payroll or do they even have any of this setup? Maybe they need help with their finances and business metrics.
KPIs. How many clients have you worked with that don’t understand what their KPIs are? This is a prime opportunity where a small business owner would need your help or maybe they’re ready to delegate which is what I am. I am totally ready to delegate bookkeeping. I’m grateful I have my mom who’s good at accounting. I want to focus on what I’m great at. Each business owner, if you keep that in mind, if you can support them and show them that you can be their backbone to their business and have them focus on what they’re really good at, then you don’t even need to worry about a thing on offering value because understanding what makes that business owner tick is your goal to understanding their value.
Why It’s Important To Know Your Value
Why is it important to know your value? It’s number one important for you to know your value before you can ever articulate it to a future client or like in Christine’s case, she took a current client and articulated it to a current client in two stages. She’s sold one, a profit first plan at $3,000 to $5,000 in revenue. From there, she’s going to offer a bigger plan once this guy gets on her boat which she made really clear that he better understand his numbers before the next time they talk. With that being said, if you don’t know your value, someone else is going to decide it for you. That’s what I’m here to make sure that we get into, so you have the confidence to articulate that and not have someone else dictate what it is for you. Typically, if you let someone else dictate it, it will be less than what you’re worth.If you let someone else dictate your value, it will be less than what you're really worth. Click To Tweet
I have personally worked with a lot of you individually. We typically will just decrease our prices or do things for free because we want a new client. We need that person. When we do that, that’s basically your client dictating your value. Keep that in mind, if you don’t know your value, then someone else will be dictating it for you. You’re also going to probably start resenting the work that you do for your clients if you keep that up. Understanding the worth of who you are and what you will work for and what you will not work for is key.
You will start resenting the work that you originally love doing, which I’m sure a lot of you love what you do. I’ve worked with tons of accountants and CPAs and I know that you truly do love what you do and you want to love and serve your clients all day long. None of us do things for free. When you do things for free, your clients typically don’t fall through anyway. If you want to make more money, which I think some of you might want to do that or maybe you want to work a little bit less. I was talking to a woman and she works ten to twelve-hour days. I was like, “How much longer do you want to keep doing that?” You have to know your value. You have to know where that ground is of what you’re going to tolerate and what you want from clients. When are you going to stop doing things for free? That’s a big one because that way you either will get paid more for what you’re doing with these clients or you’ll choose to work with better clients in the end anyway.
When You Can Help Clients
Here’s how you can help. Number one, the startup phase of a business, the startup process. You can help determine structures, LLC or S corp, what’s best for the entrepreneur or business owner? This is your expertise. That’s value to the client, which means you should charge for it. Number three, you can assist with a financial analysis. If they already have products developed, they already know their retail prices, or they know their cost to goods. You can help put together cashflow statements. This is all very valuable information to us, like me, a business owner who’s just starting out. Think about the startup process and what you can deliver to your clients or future clients when they’re first getting going. You can provide assistance on accounting software.
If you are like one of my clients, Luke who only would work with people who would set up on QuickBooks online. That’s it. If you weren’t on QuickBooks online, you are never going to be Luke’s client. If you tell the business owner that from the beginning, then everything is hunky-dory going forward. You could have a very successful business owner client on your hands, which means you could do accounting services for them, you could do payroll, you could do bookkeeping or you can do profit first. You could do pumpkin planning, you could do tax planning, you name it and you could do it for this client. Think about the startup process and setting themselves up from the get-go.
Giving advice on how to open bank accounts. I know I’m getting really basic, but I can’t tell you how many business owners there are that have no idea on how to open up bank accounts and what they should do. They’re literally clueless. I know for you as the accounting professional, as the CPA or as the bookkeeper, you know all this. You can guide your future clients in the right direction, but you have to know what your value is and then that’s what you’re going to deliver and what you’re going to charge for it.
Those were some ideas. There are way more ideas, but I don’t want to overwhelm you with ideas because I think you know most of them. I’m just breaking it down for you a little bit. Number two, once the startup is in process, they need help with the day-to-day business operations. Like me, I need help with the day-to-day business operation. I have QuickBooks, payroll and bills to pay. If you think about the business owner, what can you take off their plate to support so they can focus on what they’re really good at? If they can bring in revenue, that means they have more money to pay you as the specialist. Most entrepreneurs and business owners have no idea how to classify an independent contractor versus an employee. You could teach on that and get paid for it. Financial statements and understand the ins and outs of the business, that’s exactly what Christine did with her client. When her client could understand, what are the ins and outs of understanding your financial statements, most business owners have no idea how to read a P&L. Let alone a balance sheet. Think about the education standpoint with your new business clients.If you don't know your value, then someone else will be dictating it for you. Click To Tweet
You could oversee payroll and payment processes. I’ve worked with my other client, John. He was amazing and he said, “Michelle, I want to work with small business owners and I want to be like the spoken hub model.” If you think of a wheel on a rim, you’ve got the wheel and then there are all those spokes on those weird looking rims. I know you might not have seen them but if you have watched a couple of movies, you might know what I’m talking about. A hub and spokes model means that John was going to be the one-stop shop for his small business clients. The way to articulate that value to his client was, he did your payroll, he did your accounting, he did your bookkeeping, he filed your taxes and he had quarterly meetings with you to offer tax planning to ensure you paid the least amount of tax to the IRS. Talk about a one-stop shop, that sounded amazing. If he could figure out what the challenges were to the business owner, understanding the business owner and how we get to the challenges.
We ask great strategic questions. You could say, “Michelle, what’s your biggest challenge with the backend processes and payment processes in your business?” I would say, “I have zero interest in doing any of that and I’m looking for someone I can trust to take over all of the processes.” If you ask great strategic questions to your business clients, you can understand how your services will fit in, and if you’re a hub and spoke, how you fit in to solving your client’s problems. That is the way to understand what your value is. Providing regular analysis of business financials monthly. If you’re just starting out, maybe you want to do quarterly. I would say a lot of CPAs and accountants that I’ve met are missing the boat right there. It is a game changer for you and the services that you offer to your clients. It’s a massive game changer. I would say for every 100 accountants I’ve ever talked to, most of them are not doing quarterly meetings. This can differentiate you and set you apart from others. What is your value?
Here’s the third way that you can help. The business growth stage is a tricky stage. You’re determining cashflow, cashflow patterns, pricing and the financing of the business. Are they an inventory-based business or are they just a service like me? There are different business growth things that you see from your eyes that we can’t see as the business owner. That’s why we hire experts like you, but we need to understand the value that you’re going to bring to us and how do you do that? You can say and ask questions, “Michelle, what is the biggest challenges that you’re having as your business is growing?” That could be one or, “Michelle, where do you foresee the biggest challenges as you’re in this growth phase of The Pitch Queen?”
You would ask open-ended strategic questions that you’ve thought about before meeting and ask me to get to the problem and then think about, “I can help with cashflow.” Most business owners might not understand what that means so you’ll have to educate them on what does cashflow mean, what is business financing or why would you want to borrow money and have debt on the books to pay off later? You understand all this from your accounting hat but think about the business owner. They don’t understand that. By you being able to articulate that value shows your value. You could create financial forecasts, that’s a really good one. Most people have no idea how to create financial projections in their business to help make better decisions. I truly believe your P&L statements and your balance sheet shows how you can make better decisions in your business. If they have the equipment or if they have inventory, you can help on equipment leasing, you can help on inventory control or you can help on manufacturing. Sometimes when we buy more inventory upfront, we get it cheaper, but we need to finance it over time.
Most business owners need a little help. I needed that help when I had my last company, FITzee Foods. I needed that help all day long. I wish I had that help. Advise on, should they hire employees? Should they hire 1099 contractors? Some of those things we’ve already chatted about here. Another couple of things that you can do is help create budgets, provide advice and resources. What if they want to sell their business? One of the strategic questions that you might want to ask, which will help you articulate your values if you think in the future is, “Michelle, what is your exit strategy? What are your future plans? Where is it that you would like to take your Pitch Queen Business? I see you have the Abundant Accountant podcast. How will that help towards your future vision? You could ask what is the vision for The Pitch Queen? What is your vision for the Abundant Accountant podcast?” Think about questions that you want to ask prior to ever having a client meeting.
You’re helping your clients prevent having an audit where they don’t have their stuff figured out. I’m very organized. I’m probably a unique business owner but teaching people how to create receipt banks and how to organize and if they’re traveling, collecting mileage and all that other fun accounting stuff that business owners just need help and direction. Write down some of these examples. Apply them to the next small business client that you meet with and see how it changes and how it helps you acquire a new client a little bit quicker and a little bit faster. What is your value? What’s your value to yourself and what’s your value to your clients and what are you going to do differently now to articulate it? Thank you for being here with me on the Abundant Accountant podcast. It’s always an honor and I will see you.
Thank you all so much for joining me here on the Abundant Accountant podcast. I would be grateful also if you screenshot this episode. Tag me Michelle Weinstein on LinkedIn and share with me what is it that you discovered about understanding what your value is. What was that big takeaway or a-ha moment that you’re going to put into action and make different now? If you want more goodness and you’re an accounting professional who worries about where your next client may come from or struggling with inconsistent cashflow not during tax season, head on over to FiveStepsToAbundance.com. Get my simple five-step process that accountants use to go from waiting around for the busy season to closing high-level clients who are happy to pay you the fees that you actually deserve and who appreciate the work that you do for them. If you could leave a written review on iTunes, I would be grateful. I want to hear from more of you.
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