Could your friends help your start-up practice?

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Mark Lee encourages start-up practices to seek help from those who know and care for them best.

I have referred before to the large number of start-up practitioners who use the Any Answers section of AccountingWEB to ask for help as to how they could grow their new accountancy practice.

Much good advice has been shared there as well as in articles on the start-up in practice section of the site and in the start-up guides produced by AccountingWEB.

Talking with a start-up practitioner recently, I made a suggestion that I do not recall seeing mentioned here before. This is surprising as it seems so obvious – and I would hope that perhaps everyone does it automatically. But in case not: 

Asking for referrals

How easy do you make it for your friends and family to...

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03rd Jan 2014 12:56

I remember

insurance salesmen asking for 3 "friends" addresses once they had sold you a policy. 

I have said this many times before Mark, there is no place for "selling gimmicks" in Accountancy however you like to wrap it up.

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03rd Jan 2014 13:25

Sorry John

What is the 'selling gimmick' you suggest I am dressing up here?

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05th Jan 2014 11:40

Come on Mark

you are quite aware (with good intentions) that targeting friends to help you get clients is a sales gimmick.

Wouldn't friends come to you anyway without the need for them being targeted?

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08th Jan 2014 10:45


johnjenkins wrote:

Wouldn't friends come to you anyway without the need for them being targeted?

Most of us, I suspect, do not spend a great deal of time talking about our business/practice/work with our friends and family, beyond simple Q&A (eg: How's work/business? Fine thanks and you?)

Whilst they may know that someone has started up their own accountancy practice they won't necessarily know enough about it as to who they know who might value an intro.

I think many of us make huge unwarranted assumptions as to what our friends and family know about our work. One piece of evidence to which i would point is the number of times I have heard people talking after hearing a eulogy read out. "I didn't know that about him/her" is an all too common response after hearing some details about the deceased's business activities.

As ever John, we will have to agree to disagree...



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08th Jan 2014 11:25

I'm just wondering

what I have to say to swing you from the "dark side".

I think most people know what an Accountant is generally. I bet if your family knew you were a plumber you wouldn't need to ask for clients.

The comparison with a eulogy doesn't really stack up. I've not heard any eulogies that go deep into a persons business activities. "Oh I didn't know he was a racing driver in the 50's or 60's, or perhaps, I didn't know he had 20 kids" are the normal things that people don't know about.

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08th Jan 2014 12:44

As ever John our experiences are different....

...and these inform our views.

I have heard all too many eulogies (of people of varying ages) where some little known facts about their business approach or focus have been shared with family and friends. You have not. Fine. It doesn't make my experiences less valid than yours. Just different.

I entirely agree that most people know "what an accountant is generally". But, in my experience, that of itself is insufficient.  People make all sorts of assumptions about how keen we are to win new clients, what type of work we might want to do for them, what experience we have to do such work, what type of clients we have and so on. 


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08th Jan 2014 14:16

All experiences

are valid, Mark, that's what makes us who we are and the paths we take.

Have you thought that perhaps approaching family and friends in the way you advise might make them think that you are being pushy or taking advantage? Is it right that you burden family and friends with that approach? It's different if cousin starting own business and Uncle says "have a chat with Mark (or John) he will steer you in the right direction".

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08th Jan 2014 15:57

Yes John

johnjenkins wrote:

Have you thought that perhaps approaching family and friends in the way you advise might make them think that you are being pushy or taking advantage?

Yes indeed John. This is exactly why my advise above is couched very carefully. It includes a para:

"What I am suggesting is nothing like that, and you need to ensure that your friends understand that you are simply seeking their help and advice. To an extent you are implicitly complimenting them. You think sufficiently of them to ask for their advice and their help."


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08th Jan 2014 16:27

Reverse Psychology

doesn't always work Mark, especially with friends and family.

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