One of the mistakes we see new firm owners make time and again is that they see the start of their firm as an end. This is not true. Throwing open the proverbial doors of your firm is only one step in many in building a business that pays you your true value. For this to work, you’re going to need a concrete game-plan.
Keep in mind, we’re not talking about the business plan you might have had to drum up to get the bank or perhaps investors on board with your new firm. What we’re talking about today is an internal strategy, a plan meant to keep you on your firm’s path to growth.
Cultivating ideal clients
The first part in growing your firm into a money-maker is identifying and then cultivating a clientele built of only high-value clients.
If you already have some clients then you might have a good idea of your ideal client – a combination of people you enjoy working with and someone who pays you what you’re worth.
If you’re just starting out you’ll know you’re on the right track if you’re finding clients that are willing to pay by service rather than per hour – you’ll still have some weeding to do with your client list, but it’s a starting point.
Ideal clients are a big part of your overall strategy to grow your firm because:
- They’ll shape your marketing (“why us”).
- They define the services your firm will specialise in (your niche).
- They’ll define your further education (and that of your employees).
- They’ll define what kind of specialists you might need to hire.
- They will be your source of feedback in regards to client satisfaction.
- They’ll be the focus of your firm’s mission statement.
Creating a concrete mission statement
The last point above is worth discussing in and of itself. Mission statements are the plainest instructions for your employees about what they and the firm as a whole is doing (how they should act in unusual or new situations). Your mission statement needs to tell your employees (and remind yourself) what your firm does for its clients, what it does for your team, and what it’s doing for you, the owner. Here are some examples from other companies:
- Amazon: To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.
- LinkedIn: Connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.
- Tesla Motors: Accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible.
- Uber: Uber is evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers.
With mission statements like these, employees who are caught in new situations with clients would have a guideline on how to act.
So if your firm’s niche clientele is, for example, new mom-and-pop businesses, your mission statement might say something like: Guide new business owners over the tax hurdles that stand in the way of their being able to throw open their doors.
It’s rough, but even in this form the mission statement gets you and your employees thinking about new services you can offer, how much handling clients will need on a personal basis, and so on. They’ll also know that when in doubt, go with the option that will best help the client navigate the new taxes and accounting problems they will face.
You’ll also get an idea on how high you can price your services – the sweet spot between how much value you offer and how much new business owners might be willing to spend.
Without these components of a strategy in place, it’s possible for your firm to drift away from your ideal clients. Your strategy is a reminder of what you do and whom you do it for. The what and the whom feed each other, creating a positive cycle for growth.
Strategy makes you stand out
Here’s a test – take a look at the marketing and/or website of competing firms in your niche. Can you identify anything that makes you seem different from them, or more importantly, makes you seem better than them?
Hopefully you have at least one service that trumps that of your competition. If you don’t have a unique selling point your mission statement can help you create one (or more).
Create services that are the most helpful for your niche, preferably in an enticing package gathered under one price – a sort of clear one-stop-shop for your ideal clients. Your clients have defined your strategy. Your strategy has defined your firm. Your firm has redefined its offerings to be the best possible suite of services (compared to all your competition) for your ideal client. The new clients are a new source of feedback. And on it goes.
Your strategy will compel you to gain a better understanding of what your clients want. You’ll have a method for comparing your firm to those of your competitors. You’ll be able to create services and value-adds that are incredibly sexy to your ideal clients. And from all that you’ll be able to cultivate growth.