Technology & Innovation

Why accountants can’t ignore their most important client—their own business

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For accountants and bookkeepers in the U.S. and Canada, year-end and the start of the new year means one thing: busy season. But in the hustle and bustle of helping clients get their financial affairs in order, it’s easy to forget your own business.

Even though schedules are hectic, it’s important to find time to plan for the future and think about how you’ll grow your business. After all, your business is perhaps the most important client that you can’t afford to overlook.

Luckily, there are plenty of tools and strategies that will make growing your business more effective—without taking too much of your time. Below are three things that should be on every accountant’s checklist this year.

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Apps to put an end to miscommunication

Any business leader will tell you that success hinges on solid communication — both internally to colleagues and externally to customers. Accounting is no different. A slew of new communication apps make it simple for accounting firms to crack the communication code.

Services like Teamwork, Karbon, and Jetpack Workflow are gaining popularity with accountants eager to stay on top of deadlines and projects with colleagues, get new hires up to speed, and even communicate externally with clients. These tools are a great way to handle workflow and project management with your colleagues internally — and stay in touch with clients about upcoming financial deadlines that they need to be aware of, which, after all, could mean more business for your firm.

Automation tools to demystify marketing

Think marketing isn’t part of your job as an accountant or bookkeeper? Think again. Sure, you deal with numbers and financials, but don’t underestimate the significance of marketing. Word-of-mouth recommendations will only carry your business so far. If you want to grow, and hedge against referrals drying up, get smart about marketing your expertise to new clients.

The good news is, automation tools make it easy for even the smallest firm to market their business. These tools can help you reach new customers (and keep in touch with existing ones) through email, social media, and your own website. Running your own accounting business is a lot of work, but marketing resources enable even the busiest accounting pros to carve out time to market their own businesses with little effort.

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Value-based pricing

In the accounting world, the default pricing structure is to charge based on a pre-set hourly rate. But that too often underestimates the value of the services you provide to clients. Enter value-based pricing, which allows you to set prices based on the worth of the service, rather than your hourly rate.

Value-based pricing is perhaps the biggest tool at accountants’ disposal to grow their business. It removes the revenue ceiling with hourly billing, regardless of your rate, because there are only so many working hours in each day.

The model isn’t about charging more; it’s about building a partnership with clients, who can select the option that’s best for their business. For example, if a company absolutely needs its books done in 30 days to avoid legal action, chances are that company will pay a premium for that service. And accounts get paid fairly for projects with clearly defined parameters.

This model also allows accountants to make decisions about which clients to accept, and even which clients to avoid. A company that simply wants its books balanced for the cheapest possible price might be a client you can afford to do without. While value-based pricing isn’t right for every accounting firm, it could help you more fairly quantify (and get paid for) the value of your expertise.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2018 and has been updated for relevance.