February 29, 2024
16 min

Business Development for Accountants: 10 Critical Tips πŸ“ˆπŸŽ―

How can accountants develop their businesses for long-term, sustainable growth? Join us as we go through 10 critical tips for ultimate business development.
Business Development for Accountants: 10 Critical Tips πŸ“ˆπŸŽ―
Table of contents

Business development strategies play a pivotal role in the success of all professional services. And when it comes to growing your firm, your accounting expertise will only take you so far. You need to take a hands-on approach to growing your business and brand, to encourage the loyalty of existing clients, as well as sourcing new ones.

It's all about optimising the client experience and building relationships.

Key Takeaways from this Post

Craft a short-term and long-term business development plan that incorporates our tips in this guide. Break each tip down into a smaller plan with clear goals and processes.
The right tools and technology will inevitably play a big part in your business development strategies. Use technologies that enhance efficiency and automation within your accounting firm.
Link My Books is perfect for eCommerce accountants wanting to simplify their bookkeeping processes. With it, you only need to spend 10 minutes per month on each client. This leaves you free to take on more clients and pursue other business development opportunities.
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If you run an accounting firm but are not too familiar with business development strategies, you're in the right place. In this comprehensive guide, I'm discussing 10 critical tips that business development accountants can take advantage of.

What Most Accountants Get Wrong About Business Development


A big red cross


Business development is a skill that's set apart from accounting. A lot of accountants undertake years of training, and continually refine their skills to become knowledgeable and skilled at their craft. At the same time though, they fail to learn crucial business development skills. This results in most accounting firms not living up to their full potential.

Another trap that accounting firms often fall into is the failure to embrace change by implementing new technologies into their business processes. However, technology can not only help you expand your client base, but also enable you more time to focus on further business development.

Business development and client acquisition strategies can skyrocket growth, bringing in new clients and new business.

Best Business Development Tips for Accountants

  1. Use the right technology
  2. Focus on the client
  3. Develop your brand image
  4. Seek networking opportunities
  5. Convey your expertise
  6. Train young accountants
  7. Leverage organic growth
  8. Leverage paid ads
  9. Expand your skillset
  10. Keep communication open

Tip 1: Use the Right Technology

The key to any kind of business development strategy is using the right tools for the job. Technology provides ways to automate different aspects of your business, as well as helping you create a better customer experience.

Here are some areas in which you should consider implementing technology:

Managing Financial Data


Link My Books homepage with information about automated bookkeeping


Accurately recording financial data into your accounting software takes both a sharp eye and heaps of valuable time. Using tools to gather, consolidate, store, and organise financial data will not only ensure accuracy across the board, but will also free up a considerable amount of time each month.

Link My Books is an automated bookkeeping software for eCommerce accountants and sellers. It sits in between your eCommerce accounting software, like Xero or QuickBooks account, and your clients' eCommerce platforms. After a quick 15 minute setup process, it seamlessly transfers financial data from one to the other.

Link My Books sends across summaries that break down critical information like sales, revenue, refunds, and fees. Additionally, it automatically calculates taxes and COGS on every item sold. This software will save you hours every month; you only need to spend 10 minutes on each client. Therefore, you will have more time to focus on other areas of your business.

Gathering Client Feedback

Use technology to request, gather, and manage client feedback. Send out surveys and questionnaires with tailored questions. You can automatically send out survey requests after payments are made, for example, to learn about how easy the clients found the process. You can also ask long-term clients to complete a questionnaire detailing their experience with your service.

Furthermore, you can use technology to prompt clients to leave you reviews on Google, social media, and review sites like TrustPilot. This will greatly increase the number of reviews you receive, and increase brand awareness.

Use the results of your surveys, as well as reviews, to improve your service. And, display them across your website and social media accounts for social proof to entice new customers.

Managing Payroll


A woman with her arms in the air and a computer screen with the word 'payroll' on it


Payroll management software will help you manage your payroll and that of your clients. Most payroll software operates in the cloud, giving employees access to their records. They can fill in their timesheets, and make requests like PTO.

Payroll management software can help you keep compliant with different laws and regulations surrounding aspects like pensions, sick pay, and parental leave. Many automatically calculate these for you, in addition to any taxes employees need to pay.

Creating Efficient Workflows

Research shows that efficient workflows can increase profitability for accounting firms. They do this by boosting both efficiency and productivity amongst your team. There are several kinds of workflows you can create, with automation at their core:

  • Onboarding clients: Give clients access to their own portal where they can learn about your processes, send and receive documentation, and communicate with you.
  • Tracking projects: Create automated workflows that track projects. These can work out the profitability of tasks, as well as enable you to delegate tasks to staff and assign milestones to them.
  • Automating repetitive tasks: Use software to create workflows that automate repetitive tasks. You can assign rules and actions so that tasks are carried out once a 'rule' is fulfilled.

Tip 2: Focus on the Client


Three call centre women wearing headsets


Focusing on the client might sound obvious at first glance. But what exactly does it entail? It's all about getting into the client's mind and discovering what they want from your services. Take the time to identify what your clients need and how you can help them. Here are some strategies for building strong relationships with your clients:

  • Create a client persona: Develop a client persona so that you understand who you're marketing to. Include aspects such as age, gender, location, industry, and interests of your typical clients. This will help you speak to them on their level.
  • Solve problems: When you're developing your methods of communication, such as social media content and blog posts, consider what your clients' problems are and how you can solve them. The easiest way to do this is to simply ask.
  • Easy communication: Provide multiple ways of keeping in touch and ensure you respond quickly to emails and messages. Installing a chatbot on your website is also a good idea to answer common questions clients might have.
  • Be clear: Clearly communicate what your firm offers in terms of services. Also convey the scalability of your services. For instance, how you accommodate growing businesses. This sets out a path for your clients.

Tip 3. Develop Your Brand Image



Your brand image is how you want your clients to view you. All forms of communication will encapsulate your brand image, and include branding elements like logo, tagline, colours, and typography. Your brand image will align with your client persona so that you can build rapport and trust.

Developing a strong and consistent brand image will help make you more recognisable and memorable. With it, you can create a desired impression so that when someone thinks of your brand, they think of traits like professionalism or experts. Emotion is also a powerful driver of sales, so consider carefully what emotions you want to evoke amongst your audience.

To help you hone in on your brand image, think about different brands and how they've built up specific images of themselves over time. Coca cola and Disney are both good examples of brands with strong, well-crafted identities.

How to Develop Your Brand Image

Here are some concrete ways of developing your brand image:

  • Define your brand persona and align it with your clients'.
  • Write your values, vision, and mission statements and add them to your website.
  • Develop a tone of voice to use across all your interactions.
  • Communicate what makes you different from competitors.
  • Write blog and social media posts addressing common issues to showcase your expertise.
  • Use consistent brand elements across all interactions, both online and offline.

Tip 4: Seek Networking Opportunities


8 hands joined together with a transparent world over the top and lots of networks


Seek out opportunities to network with other professionals. Networking is essential for B2B companies to not only source new clients, but also to present themselves as an expert in their field. Networking might sound a little daunting. You have to be comfortable talking positively about yourself, and why your accounting firm is the best choice.

However, networking is not all about the sales pitch. It should, in fact, be an opportunity to get to know people and their business. If you build up long-term relationships, clients will value this and think of your firm when they need your services. They might also recommend you to others.

Networking Dos

Here are the things you should do for a successful networking endeavour:

  • Diversify: Network both online and offline. Attend in-person events, fairs, groups, and conferences, as well as using social media sites like LinkedIn.
  • Be the expert: Speak at an accounting or business networking event. The purpose of this is not to necessarily sell your services. Rather, to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise. This plants a seed that you'll nurture and grow with time.
  • Discuss trending topics: Prepare answers to questions about relevant trending topics. Research industry news and drive conversations towards those topics.
  • Consider challenges: Look into the different challenges event attendees may be facing with their business. Research individual companies if you know who'll be attending, or discuss challenges of specific industries as a whole.
  • Arm yourself with an elevator pitch: This is a concise pitch that you can recite when you're pressed for time. It should be around one minute long and feature your accounting firm's best attributes. You should also be able to tailor it according to who you're speaking with.
  • Business cards: Have professional business cards at the ready to hand out. This provides a convenient way for people to get in touch with you later on when they've had time to think over your offerings.

Networking Don'ts

And here are some things you should avoid during networking events:

  • Make it all about you: Networking is a two-way street. Ensure you too, ask questions and listen to answers. You're there to form connections, just like everyone else.
  • Wait to be spoken to: Move around the room and make conversations with different people. Don't wait for them to come to you. Take a proactive approach and make the first move. This will help you appear confident.
  • Neglect goals: Go into the networking event with clear goals in mind. This could be to converse with a set number of people or to hand out so many business cards. You should also articulate the main purpose of your attendance.
  • Use your phone: Switch off your phone and put it away when you're networking in-person. Phone's are distractions and could put people off speaking with you. In short, give people your undivided attention.

Tip 5: Convey Your Expertise


four heads with symbols inside representing a pathway to success


To attract new business, you need to show that you know your stuff when it comes to accounting. Businesses rely on accountants for advising them and managing the financial aspects of their business. Obviously, this is a big responsibility. Clients need to have the confidence that not only do you know the ins and outs of accounting, but you can also handle the workload efficiently.

Ways to Convey Your Expertise

Here are some ways that you can present yourself as an accounting expert:

  • Be industry-specific: Focus on a small number of specific industries and cover those widely in your communication methods. Tailor your communication to those industries by discussing industry-specific challenges and news.
  • Extend your reach: Cover different methods of communications, including blogs, social media, and newsletter emails. Use automation tools to help with scheduling.
  • Get into YouTube or podcasting: Create YouTube videos or podcasts addressing different accounting topics and problems. Talk about the different responsibilities that accountants have, as well as giving some advice for small businesses managing their own accounts.
  • Be a speaker: As mentioned above, speaking at events will help you present yourself as an accounting expert. You can talk about topics like the best software for bookkeepers, for example, or how different financial reports can help with business growth.Β 
  • Be simplistic: Your clients want you to talk to them in a way they can understand. You need to be able to take the complex topic of accounting and explain it in a simple way, without unnecessary jargon.
  • Use feedback and reviews: Take snippets and sentences from reviews that describe your expertise and display them on your webpages, social media channels, and other marketing materials.
  • Be innovative: Think outside the box, and come up with new and innovative ways of doing things. These should be focused on aspects like making your clients' lives easier and improving your services.

Tip 6: Train Young Accountants


A wooden artist's mannequin lying on its front and reading a book


Think in terms of long-term growth and provide young (or new) accountants with business development training. This sets the stage for them becoming a partner in your firm when the time is right.

Training investment helps ensure your firm will continue to thrive even after you've retired from accounting or moved on to something else. Partners can also share the workload to enable you to take on more clients and ultimately increase your revenue.

Allow young accountants insight into how the business works and give them practical and theoretical experience with business development. Steadily build up their responsibilities. In time, they too can offer training to new accountants.

Things to Keep in Mind

Here are some things you should keep in mind when it comes to training new accountants to ready them for partnerships with your firm:

  • An opportunity not a requirement: Do not make business development a mandatory part of working within your firm. Instead, present it as an opportunity to boost their prospects, get more involved with the business, and become a partner when the time comes.
  • Don't overload your trainees: Getting involved with the business development side of things will take up time. Ensure your team is not overworked, and that it's a viable option with fair compensation for trainees' time.
  • Designate time: Designate a specific amount of time each week to train accountants for becoming a partner. This could be one or two hours, but don't let it overtake main responsibilities. You might consider allowing people to choose when they complete this.
  • Choose tasks: Offer trainees a choice of tasks each week. For example, you might have a list that includes 10 business development tasks, such as networking, responding to social media comments, or writing email newsletters. Allow trainees to pick a select few from the list and offer them support if needed.
  • Offer incentives: Incentivise your training scheme with rewards for hitting certain milestones or completing a certain number of tasks. You might also offer rewards for achieving great results. For example, making sales, generating revenue, or gathering reviews from existing clients.

Tip 7: Leverage Organic Growth


A Google search engine on a computer screen with a magnifying glass over the top


When it comes to business development, there's nothing quite like organic growth. It's free, sustainable, and offers long-term opportunities. With organic growth, you're playing the long game. You cannot expect quick results. But, steady organic growth is a sought-after achievement for most businesses, including accounting firms.

Organic growth can be achieved through a number of methods, done repeatedly over time. For example, producing regular blog posts that are optimised for search engines. Or, promptly replying to social media comments. It requires consistency.

When thinking about how to scale an accounting firm with organic growth, the first thing you need to do is devise a strategy. There are a number of elements at the core of an organic growth strategy:

  • Blogging
  • Social media posts
  • Newsletters and email communication
  • Responding to social media comments
  • SEO

Your strategy should include the frequency of communication, as well as how each task will be carried out. Consider aspects like how you'll research topics for content, such as, using Google Trends or doing competitor research.

Create a community around your brand to make people feel part of your story. Focus on the quality of your leads and, as already stated, developing relationships with clients and potential clients.

Tip 8: Leverage Paid Ads


Two hands, one with a megaphone hovering over it and the other with a dollar


Paid ads are a quicker way to gain more exposure and clients. It is often a necessary step for businesses to take, alongside their organic growth strategy. You can implement paid ads through Google, social media channels, as well as local advertising avenues. For example, distributing brochures, or creating an ad for local newspapers and magazines.

The downside of traditional marketing, as in local ads, is that it's difficult to measure the results. It's also not normally a very targeted approach. However, it could make local businesses feel more comfortable about working with you because you're close in proximity; going back to our earlier point of creating a community.

Online ads, on the other hand, are very measurable. You can see the demographics of people who clicked on your ads, how many went on to sign up or make contact, and refine your campaigns based on the results of each one.

Additionally, paid ads allow for A/B testing. This is the process of showing two versions of an ad (with one differentiating element) to see which one garners better results based on your objectives.

Tip 9: Expand Your Skillset


A man in a blue suit holding a tablet with the word 'skills' hovering over it in a circle. Four icons in circles stemming from it


When it comes to expanding your skillset for business development, you have several areas you can work on:

  • Services: These will enable you to offer more services and solutions, such as developing expertise in a specific industry and using different technologies to allow you more time.
  • Marketing: Marketing skills will help you boost your business development efforts. These include social media management techniques, competitor research, and SEO.
  • Leadership: Learn how to manage a team effectively. Leadership skills can include aspects like keeping your team motivated, designating tasks, and encouraging teamwork.
  • Client management: This will help you gain a deep understanding of what it means to manage clients to build long-term relationships.

How to do it

List the skills you want to develop and seek out opportunities to succeed.

Search for a course to help you learn your desired skill. Or, teach yourself using online resources. Lots of software websites have training materials to help you master different skills. For example, QuickBooks has a training program to help you become a QuickBooks ProAdvisor. With this, you can learn to leverage different accounting tools within QuickBooks. Yoast, on the other hand, has an SEO Academy to help you rank high in search engines.

You can also look into online course platforms, like Udemy. YouTube is another great resource for learning new skills that will help you onto the next stage of your business journey.

You might also consider speaking with experts in the desired area to get some inside advice.

Tip 10: Keep Communication Open


A man dressed in grey holding a smartphone


Communication is essential for business development, in terms of both client communication and communication with team members within your accounting firm. For the purpose of this post, we're going to focus on client communication.

Open communication needs to take several things into account:

  • Frequency: How often you'll communicate with your clients.
  • Value: What value does reading a blog post or email offer to clients?
  • Method: What methods you'll use for communicating with clients.

If you're getting very little engagement with emails, for example, you might need to look at how much value they bring your clients. What do they get out of reading them? What questions do they answer or what problems do they solve?

Furthermore, open communication is all about being available. We've all had experiences with businesses where it's difficult to speak with someone, especially someone who's knowledgeable enough to help you. Make it easy for your clients to reach out when they need to, providing multiple ways to get in touch.

Why Scaling Without the Fundamentals is Asking for Trouble

Using the fundamental tips in this article will help you scale your accounting firm smoothly. Business development requires time, knowledge, and resources. It also requires a growth mindset and a strong desire to carry out client work to the best of your ability.

Incorporate these tips into your overall business development strategy. Develop a detailed plan for each tip.

Not following a clear plan will make it impossible for you to understand your success and grow your accounting firm. You need to follow a plan in a logical order, as well as having clear, measurable goals. A plan tells you what you need to be doing and when. And, how you can best deliver your services to clients.

Save Hours on Your eCommerce Accounting (in Minutes)


Details about how Link My Books helps accountants with their eCommerce clients' bookkeeping tasks


Business development is worlds apart from accounting. But that doesn't mean they can't align. The first step accounting firms should take to develop their business is to implement technology. This should aim to increase team efficiency, automate processes, and offer clients exemplary customer service and support.

eCommerce accounting can be dramatically simplified with Link My Books. Put your bookkeeping on autopilot and access the tools you need to boost business development. All our customers get a free 1-1 onboarding session to ensure they're set up correctly.

Excited to grow your eCommerce accounting firm? Sign up today and get your 14-day free trial with Link My Books.


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