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How To Research & Develop Your Accounting Services

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How To Research & Develop Your Accounting Services

How do you decide which services to offer and how to price them? You can start by doing a quick review of the services that you are thinking about offering by answering the 5 questions below:
 
  1. Is there enough demand to justify offering the service?
  2. Do you have a deep understanding of what the customer “really wants and values”?
  3. Can you access the target market with your available resources, skills, and budget?
  4. Can you differentiate yourself from the competition?
  5. Can you (or someone in your org organization) deliver a high-quality service?
 
If you feel like you have satisfactory answers to all of these questions, then you can move on to the next article/video in the series. If you have concerns about one or more of them you should work through the steps below to identify the weaknesses in your plan and fix them.
 
These are some of the services that you could offer: small business accounting, bookkeeping, tax planning, tax preparation, management accounting, estate planning, audits and reviews, CFO services.
 
Note: this article is part of the Series: The Ultimate Free Guide To Starting & Growing An Accounting Business. Remember to check out the other articles in the purple box below (on mobile) or on the right side on desktop.

The Ultimate Free Guide to Starting & Growing An Accounting Business & Earning $200K/year

Should I Start An Accounting Firm?

Before spending time and money, make sure you really want to do this. 

Check out the article / video / podcast about:

  • 5 Things to consider before starting
  • The Theory of Pii [Passion, Income, Impact] 
How To Start An Accounting Firm

This is a summary and checklist of everything you need to do.

Check out the article / video / podcast about:

  • Checklist for starting an accounting firm
Your Services

It’s to create and offer services that clients actually want. 

Check out the article / video / podcast about:

  • How to research and develop the best services to offer your clients
  • Other revenue opportunities
Your Marketing

See the practical and ultra-effective marketing strategy I created specifically for growing an accounting business. Check out the article / video / podcast here.

If you want to develop your own marketing strategy, I have created a complete guide for accounting firms. Check out the article / video / podcast about:

Research

  • Customer Research
  • Competitor Research
  • Unique Selling Proposition

Branding

  • Branding
  • Domain name

Website, Apps & Tools

  • Website
  • Trust Factors
  • Apps & Tools

Promotion

  • Funnels
  • SEO
  • Social Media Strategy
  • Advertising
  • Email Marketing
Your Operations

Check out the article / video / podcast about: 

  • Legal
  • Funding
  • Budget & Projections

Generalist Or Specialist

 
The first decision you need to make is whether you want to be a specialist or a generalist. 
 
It makes sense to be a specialist if you have advanced skills and experience in a particular service. The trade-off that you’re making as a specialist is that you will reduce your addressable market by only offering one service. But you will increase the chances of winning new business by making it obvious to clients that you are a specialist and have an advanced skill set in the service that they are looking for. 
 
When you decide to become a generalist, you’re maximizing your addressable market and you are looking for customers that don’t have any advanced requirements or customers that value the idea of getting multiple services from one place. 
 
There’s one important point you need to keep in mind. It takes a lot of time and effort to get a paying customer and it’s much easier to sell services to existing customers than to new prospective customers. One way to increase the average revenue per customer is to offer related services.
 
For example, if you offer financial projections services for small businesses, the same clients will likely need small business accounting services. If you offer estate planning services, the same clients will likely need financial planning and investment services. So, this is the third option – offer a group of related services.
Note: You can set up a free referral program to grow your Accounting Business on 'I Imagine'. Check it out now. Or complete the form below to get more info. This article continues below.

Who Will Deliver The Service?

After deciding whether you want to be a generalist or a specialist, the next step is to decide who will deliver the service. If you have the skills required to deliver the service yourself, you enjoy doing this work and you’re happy to just create a business that can pay you a reasonable salary then it makes sense to do the work yourself. 
 
On the other hand, if you don’t have the skills, don’t enjoy doing the work or you have big plans for expanding your business then it makes sense to pay other people to do the work so that you can focus on other things in the business. 
 
Make a decision about which one or more services you will provide, set your pricing and decide who will deliver the service. 
 
The services and pricing that you just selected in this step are not set in stone yet. This is just a starting point. You’ll make a final decision after completing some of the next steps.

Customer Research

After deciding on the services that you will offer, it’s important to make sure that customers really do want those services. The simplest way to research what customers are thinking and what customers really want is to go to groups on social media relating to your service or to go to industry-specific forums. The question you’re trying to answer is this – is there an unsatisfied demand for the service that you want to offer? If the answer is yes, you’re good to go. If the answer is no, then you need to spend time looking for an unsatisfied demand that you’re capable of addressing.
 
Based on this research, adjust or refine your service and or price accordingly.
 

Competitor Research

The simplest way to do competitor research is to look at the website, social presence, and reviews of your competitors. Try to figure out what they’re doing well and not so well. Look at their website to figure out which services they’re offering and look at the reviews. Then figure out how you compare to your competitors. If you compare well, you’re good to go. If you don’t, you need to figure out what your competitors are not offering, or services that they are offering but I’m not doing a good job (and you can offer a better service).
 
Based on this research, adjust or refine your service and or price accordingly.
 
Okay, now we’re still not done with finalizing the service.
 

Unique Selling Proposition

Before finalizing the services you’re going to offer you need to get very clear about your unique selling proposition. The one question that you will need to answer every time you talk to a potential customer is, why should I choose you? I have absolutely no idea how are you can reasonably expect to succeed if you don’t have a good answer to that question. Your answer to this question could be the difference between success and failure of your entire business. 
 
I’m pretty sure that you all have a selling proposition but I’m also pretty sure that 99% of you don’t have a “unique” selling proposition. So how do you go about developing one? The summary is that you need to research your potential customers to find out what is most important to them and you need to research your potential competitors to find out how you compare to them. Then you need to make an adjustment to your services that relates to something that matters to your customers and also differentiates you from your competitors.
 
If you don’t have a strong USP check out my article/video the video in this series about how to develop a unique selling proposition. [The links in the description].
 
Again, based on this research, adjust or refine your Service and or price accordingly.
 
The most important thing you need to understand here is that this is an iterative process. Every time you make an adjustment to your services or your pricing or your USP you might end up triggering a new problem that needs to be solved. It’s like solving a Rubik’s cube. When you put one color into place, it pushes another one out of place. So you need to keep going around and around until you have everything right. This process is also known as finding ‘product-market fit”. This is an ongoing process. The steps above are required to get started. You will refine your services even further after getting feedback from clients about what they like, don’t like, value and don’t value as well as reviewing your own ability to deliver to the service.

Note: We have done a lot of research and created The Best Strategy + Website + Marketing tools for accounting businesses. Rapid launch. Low cost. All designed to work together. Check it out now. Or complete the form below to get more info. This article continues below.

Note: this article is part of the Series: The Ultimate Free Guide To Starting & Growing An Accounting Business. Remember to check out the other articles in the purple box below (on mobile) or on the right side on desktop.

The Ultimate Free Guide to Starting & Growing An Accounting Business & Earning $200K/year

Should I Start An Accounting Firm?
  • Passion, income, impact (Theory Of Pii). Does setting up an accounting business meet this criteria for you? 
  • Services you can offer.
  • Upfront costs.
  • Certifications required.
  • Pros & Cons of starting an accounting firm.
How To Start An Accounting Firm
  • Form a corporation.
  • Register with local and federal tax departments.
  • Business licenses.
  • Create a business plan (a simple one).
  • Funding
  • Shareholder or partner agreements
Your Services
  • What is your USP (unique selling proposition)?
  • Research your customers.
  • Research your competitors.
  • Finalize your services
  • Set your pricing.
  • Who will deliver the product?
Your Marketing
  • What is your brand?
  • Create a marketing plan.
  • Promotion (free)
    • Search engine optimization
    • Organic social media promotion
    • Forums and industry platforms
    • Referrals
    • Networking
    • Collaborations
    • Email marketing
    • Freelance platforms
  • Promotions (paid)
    • Google ads
    • Facebook ads
    • Linkedin Ads
    • Twitter Ads
    • Pinterest Ads
  • Landing pages & funnels
  • Website
Your Operations
  • Financial (accounting, banking, tax)
  • Compliance
  • Customer support systems
  • Manufacturing / assembly / logistics
  • Employee / freelancer hire & management
  • Office setup / management