As a profession, accountants have historically been pretty general in their knowledge, providing general accounting, consulting and tax services to as many clients as possible. As an accountant, you might also value a wide range of knowledge and expertise, taking varied CPE courses and webinars to further your general knowledge and value as a professional.
But in this time of technological advancement and Covid-related economic struggles, choosing an accounting niche might be exactly what you need, whether you are starting out or have years of professional experience. In an ever changing world, choosing a specialty or a particular industry to service can help alleviate the overwhelm and confusion that often comes with trying to be everything, for everyone.
While larger firms have the ability and resources for specialization in many different areas, if you are a smaller firm, a solopreneur or an employee, you should also consider the benefits of selecting a niche and directing your talent, time and resources to a particular industry or specialization. Thankfully, there are more options than ever to choose a niche, and to find the best fit.
If you are interested in choosing a niche, or maybe a few, fortunately you’ve got a lot of help available. Although technology and artificial intelligence is decreasing the typical audit and data aspects of accounting, it’s important for you to see how beneficial this information age is for gaining niche specific knowledge in order to specialize in a particular area.
Never before has there been the ability and flexibility to research various industries, find the best niche for you to focus your time and effort, and then successfully market to that niche. Compared to a decade ago, even networking has become easier and more profitable, no matter where you or your potential clients are located.
With the current pandemic having such an impact on the ability for accountants to work virtually, it’s even easier to service niche specific clients as well as hire talented support like we have at CPA MOMS. This economic crisis may have shuffled the deck of industries that will recover from this economic downturn, but it also provides you with an opportunity to explore how to help and support certain niches.
It’s important to consider that the closer you can be to your clients, the better you are able to serve their businesses, as well as help them personally, if possible The ability to help alleviate the stress and overwhelm that business owners are experiencing, particularly in the midst of this pandemic, the more valuable you become.
Don’t let the fact that there are others in your accounting niche deter you; they won’t have the unique perspective or passion that you can bring to that niche. With the accessibility to knowledge growing faster than ever via webinars, online learning, and industry specific social media groups, this all offers you the chance to become a trusted and valuable partner to a specific group.
With so many more options than ever before and with the increasing pressure and complications that come with being an accountant today, there is no longer a need to only be a “generalist”. With the ever changing Tax Code, globalization and new technologies, it’s a perfect time to explore and decide on an accounting niche, or maybe a few, that resonate with you and your future vision.
This week I’m going to discuss the advantages of choosing an accounting niche and suggestions on how to choose one.
The advantages of choosing an accounting niche
As a mother, you’ve probably developed an ability to understand what your children need without too much effort. Sometimes it can seem like there’s an unspoken language between you and them, that makes it easier for you to provide, support and guide them.
Over time you’ve most likely developed enough of a connection and an awareness of their needs, allowing you to help them in ways that others can’t. Although your children can sometimes be a mystery as they go through the trials and tribulations of childhood, you’re also willing to learn more and discover how to help them succeed in life.
As their mom, you understand that each child might be unique, but the lessons you’ve learned and the commonalities they share, can make it a little less confusing as they go through the various stages of childhood. Most of the moms I know that have more than one child, myself included, have said that things did get easier with each child because of what they already knew and experienced with each previous child.
The reason I’m bringing this up is because you might not realize it, but choosing an accounting niche is just as beneficial and helpful, for all the same reasons. When you choose to focus your attention on one common group or industry, you can also help nurture, guide and expand the possibilities for that niche.
As your children have certain interests as they grow up and you take an interest in learning more and supporting those interests, it’s much easier to direct your time and attention to those limited areas. If you children are focused just on soccer and swimming, you wouldn’t need to know everything about baseball, basketball, and hockey.
When my children were younger I was a Girl Scout mom, soccer mom and karate mom at various points in their lives. By honing in on what they were interested in, I was able to support them and guide them in the best way possible, with as little overwhelm as possible.
The same thing goes with choosing an accounting niche. Because you’ll be able to focus your time, effort and knowledge in whatever niche you choose, you’ll be able to support and guide those clients in the best way possible, decreasing your own overwhelm as well.
Just like you would hire a soccer coach if your child was a soccer player, as opposed to a general sports coach, clients want to hire accountants that speak their specific language and understand how to improve their game. They want to know that you understand their game as well as they do and that you can assist them in reaching their goals.
By standing out from the generalists, you can become a trusted partner, where your clients know that you comprehend the finer details of their industry, and that you can help them deal with the challenges of growing their business. With each new client in your niche, you can also gain an even deeper level of expertise and value for current and future clients.
Another advantage in choosing a niche is that it’s easier for potential clients to find you. With all the information we are bombarded with on a daily basis, having a website, social media ad, newsletter or promotion that speaks directly to the specific challenges of your niche, as well as how you can solve those struggles, will help you to stand out in the sea of noise clients normally deal with.
Although it can be scary to limit the clients you serve and to have to refer potential non-niche clients to other accountants, there is a great deal of value in being the “go-to” accountant for your chosen niche. Being an expert in your area makes marketing simpler and less costly because you are able to specifically focus your efforts.
With the similarity between what most other accountants and firms offer, it’s important to be able to stand out in the crowd. It also makes it easier for current clients to refer other industry-related clients to you, making it easier for you to focus on providing the best service possible without being distracted by the increasing complexities of accounting services.
Whether you own your own firm, are a solopreneur, or an employee, choosing an accounting niche makes the hiring and training process easier as well. It makes it simpler to narrow candidates based on their experience in your particular niche, and it makes it easier for candidates to find the right fit for their expertise.
As you’ve probably experienced, not having a consistent workflow and needing to constantly switch gears is a big problem for accountants. It costs a lot of time, effort, and momentum that could be used more effectively, productively and profitably, making the singular focus on a niche even more advantageous.
From a professional development standpoint, choosing a niche also makes a lot of sense because it reduces the massive sphere of general knowledge needed, and reduces it to a smaller, specific area that is easier to control and manage. With the ability to narrow your focus, you can learn much more about the technologies, processes and planning opportunities that might not have been possible when you were servicing so many different types of businesses.
For example, you’ll be much more aware of and interested in the latest industry specific technology for inventory tracking and be able to provide much more value to your clients, if your niche is an area of retail. Or if your niche is real estate, you’ll be much more willing to have an in-depth knowledge of 1031 exchanges and create a partnership with trusted 1031 exchange companies.
Whether you choose a niche because it sets you apart from the competition, it makes your marketing efforts much easier, or it makes it easier for you to focus your knowledge and expertise in one or two areas, choosing an accounting niche could be the answer to your overwhelm and to your future vision.
How to choose an accounting niche
When choosing a niche, there’s no need to be overwhelmed with all the options. Whether you are experienced or just staring out, here are some questions and suggestions to help you choose an accounting niche:
- Where is there an unmet need? This is a great question to ask yourself when choosing a niche because you may naturally gravitate towards what other accountants in your area are specializing in, but that often creates more competition and overwhelm. Where there’s a need, there’s a way for you to explore meeting that need. In this ever expanding virtual world of accounting, there’s also no need to limit yourself to your location. This current pandemic and economic downturn offers you a huge opportunity to look at the scaled-back version of businesses and see where the greatest need and opportunities lies. For example, there are more new entrepreneurs than ever that are looking for financial and business consulting.
- What do you enjoy doing? Despite what most accountants would say, you actually can enjoy the work that you do. Everyone naturally has likes and dislikes, especially when it comes to work, but there really is a wealth of information in what you gravitate towards and what you enjoy doing. It doesn’t mean you should limit yourself to only doing what you enjoy doing, but it is a place to start when choosing an accounting niche. It’s also a great idea to explore areas that you are personally passionate about. For example, if you are passionate about animal welfare and also enjoy transitioning traditional businesses into the online world of cloud-based software, you could choose to work with non for profit organizations centered around animal welfare.
- What is the seasonality of a potential niche? In order to balance your workload, it can be helpful to choose a niche or two that compliment each other with their seasonality and demands on your time. This way you’ll be able to balance your workload throughout the year, making it possible to expand your services during less hectic times of year. For example, a mixture of calendar and fiscal year end real estate clients will make it easier for you to provide the services they need, but also to expand the services you offer and allow you to offer webinars or other industry specific speaking opportunities to grow your business.
- How can you leverage what you’ve already learned? There may be more similarities between niches than you may have considered. By first taking a more birds eye view of your knowledge, you can then take a more focused look at where that knowledge is beneficial in other areas. You might have a general knowledge that requires only a slight adjustment or minimal extra learning in order to service a possible niche. For example, your knowledge of accounting for your dental office clients might be beneficial for a service based business like chiropractors.
- Is it profitable? At the end of the day, you need to make sure that the niche that you choose can afford to pay you for your services. You are valuable and finding the right niche that sees that value is important. Look at your own client list to determine which ones check off all the boxes, especially when it comes to profitability. Also, take a look at the marketing trends and speak to other accountants servicing the niche you are interested in, if you don’t already have clients in that niche. For example, sign up for a niche related webinar and then schedule a call with the presenter of the webinar to determine their experience with the profitability of that niche.
During this time of uncertainty, it can be helpful to choose an accounting niche that brings focus to the work you do. No matter which you choose, just know they’ll be lucky to have you on their team.
- In an ever changing world, choosing a specialty or a particular industry to service can help alleviate the overwhelm and confusion that often comes with trying to be everything, for everyone.
- Just like you would hire a soccer coach if your child was a soccer player, as opposed to a general sports coach, clients want to hire accountants that speak their specific language and understand how to improve their game.
- With all the information we are bombarded with on a daily basis, having a website, social media ad, newsletter or promotion that speaks directly to the specific challenges of your niche, as well as how you can solve those struggles, will help you to stand out in the sea of noise clients normally deal with.
- Whether you choose a niche because it sets you apart from the competition, it makes your marketing efforts much easier, or it makes it easier for you to focus your knowledge and expertise in one or two areas, choosing an accounting niche could be the answer to your overwhelm and to your future vision.