Your clients want you to be their business advisor. We'll show you how.
As an accountant (or bookkeeper, enrolled agent, controller, etc.) you have a very important job.
You make sure the books are accurate and the taxes are filed. In short, you make sure that what happened in the past is accurate.
But here's the problem: your business owner clients don't care.
And, hence, this is why you struggle.
This is why accountants are working 80+ hour weeks leading up to April 15.
This is why accountants are making only $74k per year on average.
This is why accountants are constantly stressed and feel they don't have an appropriate work-life balance.
Not convinced yet? Ok, let me explain. Here's the reason accountants struggle:
Your client needs an accountant - they don't want one.
When selling anything, you've got to understand who you're trying to sell to.
So that...you can communicate in a way that will get them to respond.
That's pretty much what selling is.
Understand your audience. Then, communicate in way that gets them to respond.
Most people do not do this well.
Enter most accountants.
Most accountants, arguably, don't understand their audience.
And, most accountants, arguably, don't communicate in a way that gets their audience to respond.
Therefore, it's incredibly difficult for most accountants to sell a service (like a CFO service) that goes beyond 'compliance' work.
Do you ever feel like a fraud? Does the thought of telling someone you're a CFO or business advisor bother you?
Does it bother you because deep-down you feel that you're not qualified? That someone would be crazy to listen to you? That you can't be a CFO. That you can't be a business advisor. That you should retreat back into your corner of the world and not make waves.
If so...this means that you are normal. Here's who reasons why:
A question that you might be asking yourself every so often sounds something like this: "Am I providing real value to my client?"
The reason you're even asking yourself this question in the first place is because you want to provide real value. Just like with imposter syndrome, the very fact that you're asking yourself this question means that you are probably providing more value than you realize.
Another reason you're probably asking yourself this question is because you don't provide anything tangible to your clients - a "deliverable".
One of the struggles that we, as CFOs or business advisors, face is keeping clients engaged.
The worse thing that can happen is for the client to get less and less value out of each of your monthly client meetings. They'll start to wonder why they're paying you and then, of course, they leave.
Here's a few tips on keeping your client engaged for years to come.
Our business advisory/CFO clients are only human (queue the '80s song by the Human League).
Humans are not necessarily logical. According to several studies (here's one), emotions drive more than 80 percent of our decision-making, while logic makes up the rest.
And, because 99.7% of all businesses are considered small businesses, they are all ran by - you guessed it - humans.
Therefore, our target clients don't make decisions logically. (If you've been a CFO/business advisor for any length of time you've probably have found this out.) Most of the problems in their business are usually a direct result of their (imperfect) behavior.
According to the SBA, half of all businesses never make it to their fifth birthday. Half!
Yet, almost all of these failed businesses all had bookkeepers and accountants.
This further proves the point that business owners need (read: crave) direction from someone they trust to tell them what to do to have a growing and more profitable business.
Enter you. Their business advisor or CFO.
Why do business owners want this? Because they're facing a few main challenges.
As outsourced CFOs, our primary function is to help our clients be successful (however they define success).
But, how do you define success? How do you know if you're successful?
If you're like most people (especially entrepreneurial-type people), the level of success you feel is probably related to one thing: how much control you have.
How much control you have over your time.
How much control you have over how much you make.
We know that the average pay for an accountant is $70k a year.
We think that's too low.
That's too low for someone that serves such a vital function to the operation of the business.
However, the reason we feel (albeit this is pure speculation) that the pay is so low is because most businesses don't value accountants.
They don't value accountants the way they value salespeople, marketing people, and the leadership team.
We know that business owners struggle. It's why, according to the Small Business Administration, half of all businesses will fail before they reach year five.
They need serious help.
You ask the average accountant, bookkeeper, or business coach and they will confidently claim that "I can help them."
Although well-intentioned, these so-called 'business advisors' are not providing the type of help the business owner really needs - even though they think they are.
These 'mediocre' business advisors usually fit one of three types:
Type #1: "I've got a few letters after my name and thus I'm smart."
Type #2: "I've bought into this amazing 'business coaching system' and I'm going to force your business to fit the system (instead of the other way around)".
Type #3: "I'm telling you the problems; you're just not listening!"
Business owners are stuck.
They not only need someone to talk to that understands. They crave it.
Specifically, business owners crave someone to talk to that can:
a. Empathize with them.
b. Help them understand what's going wrong.
c. And, help them know what to do next.
Think about it, when something is going wrong in your life, wouldn't you want a kind shoulder to lean on? Someone that can empathize with your struggle, help you understand what went wrong and help you figure out what to do next?
Business ownership is hard. Really hard. It's lonely, can be overwhelming, and sometimes creates unbearable stress.
It's no wonder business owners crave someone to talk to. Someone that 'gets it'.
There's not that many people in the business owners lives they can turn to. There's not that many people that 'get it'.
But you do.
You get it.
I've yet to meet an accountant who looks forward to tax season. I mean, I can see why. There's plenty of downsides...
You work long hours. Really long hours.
You're at the mercy of your clients to provide you documents.
You're providing a service that's a commodity (in the eyes of a taxpayer, all accountants' work product is the same).
You're doing work that's not really scalable.
You have no life for 4 months out of the year.
Add that to the fact that most accountants only make around $70k a year and it makes sense why accountants don't love tax season.
You see, most accountants are deeply rooted into something we call the Accountants' Trap, and they don't even realize it.
Accountants would never say they'd rather work hard and make less money.
But...their actions say otherwise.
Especially during tax season.
The typical accountant works anywhere from 55 hours per week to up to 100 hours per week during tax season. Let's assume they put in 50-hour weeks the rest of the year.
And, if the average pay for an accountant is $70k then the effective hourly rate is...
So, why do we as accountants do this? Why are we working hard (especially during tax season and the 'month-end close') for such a paltry wage?
Your clients are human.
And all humans want someone to care about them.
This is especially true for small business owners. Why?
Because some of them are overwhelmed. Some of them are confused. Some of them are exhausted. Some of them are worried. Some of them are anxious.
Some of them are in the midst of a storm. Some of them are in a crisis.Some of them are scared.
Yet all of them want to be heard, to be understood, to be thought about. All business owners want someone that cares. That listens. That's there for them when they stumble. To give them accolades when they do something good.
To be cared for.
This is a basic need that your client wants you to fill.
There are two types of accountants.
Type #1: The "I work for someone else" accountant.
Type #2: The "I work for myself" accountant.
The corporate ("I work for someone else") accountant is someone that works for someone else. Someone else who needs accounting services - which is pretty much all big businesses. The corporate accountant (whether they're a CPA, controller, staff accountant, or bookkeeper) all collect a paycheck each week from their employer.
The independent ("I work for myself") accountant, on the other hand, doesn't work for one person. They don't collect a paycheck on a regular basis from one employer. Instead, they collect a paycheck from multiple employers on a regular basis - their clients.