Trent Mclaren says accountants shift their mindset and stop competing if they want to scale their practice.
You know when you meet some accountants and think you really just need to give up and stop competing. Stop trying, just give up and quit. Stop competing. It’s not working for you. When you’re all out of answers because you’ve tried everything else and nothing seems to be working.
This week I was inspired by the Masters Of Scale podcast, hosted by Reid Hoffman (ex PayPal EVP and Co-founder and Chairman of LinkedIn). In the episode entitled Escape the competition, Reid interviewed Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel.
Listening to these two guys duke it out and talk through how you can stand-out in a crowded market, the thing that stuck with was Thiel’s view on how you should build a strategy that allows you to escape the competition - not compete with the competition.
We all get into these bad habits of looking over our shoulder and checking out what everyone else is doing. But who cares? If it’s affecting your client base, this is not a sign that you should be more like them; it’s that your clients have found something that you don’t offer that they value.
You can compete with them, you can match them, but you’re not escaping them. You’ll be forever looking over your shoulder wondering what else they’re doing. This means you’re being reactive to the market, not proactive.
If you want to escape competition, you need to proactively solve and offer solutions to your clients that other firm’s haven’t thought of and can’t be easily replicated. If it’s easily replicated than you’re not blowing the competition away.
Shift your mindset and don’t think about what the market is doing. Think about what you can deliver and whether or not it can be easily replicated. Let me give you a tip: using certain apps and solutions with your clients, while it can be advantageous, it can be easily replicated. It may give you a head start but you’re still competing.
Forget competition, start thinking acceleration and what it is you can deliver that no one else can. It could be specialty services and disciplines, such as financial planning, small business lending, cloud integration and implementations, price setting, or actual advisory services.
You might be wondering where on earth you’re going to find these original innovative ideas. The proof is in the pudding: your clients.
Spend a day in the life of your clients
If you were to go on an excursion and spend a whole day with one of your clients, and sit in their office, I guarantee within three hours you’ll have witnessed some kind of massacre they call “running a business”. You’ll be horrified at first at the lack of processes, how they collect their data and how they interact with their clients.
You’ll then move through to a phase of serendipity by which you’ll realise this is an area you could actually help them with. Maybe that’s helping them record better data which gives them accurate information to make great decisions, which then gives them a higher probability of actually succeeding in their business and seeing the growth they want.
Once you realise that majority of small business owners don’t go to school to learn how to run a business, you soon realise that you are the answer they didn’t know they needed.
You’re the key to their future success, you just never realised because all you did was sit in your office and believed everything they’ve ever told you about how they run their business.
Sometimes you actually need to observe the problem before you can fix it. You can’t just hear it from your client’s mouth? Why? Because clients lie, why do they lie? There are many reasons: pride, shame and fear of failure being just a few.
People don’t want to admit defeat. They feel guilty for not being open and transparent. They blame themselves for their mistakes.
So stop competing and start focusing on your clients. If you focus on your clients, their needs, their wants and their problems, then you will never have a problem growing and scaling your business.
Unless you’re running a desktop based practice with no view or vision of running a true cloud practice, in which case you will have challenges scaling your firm.
About Trent McLaren
Winner - AccountantDaily Thought Leader Of The Year for 2017
I lead a team of spirited people looking to make a difference in the accounting industry as we know it. Elimination of debtors, automated invoicing and the thought of never having to touch your firm's billing again is a reality we deliver to accounting firms all over the world.
I believe that in order to achieve your goals, you must be a leader and a believer. Your peers need to feel part of something real and exciting in order to succeed. Turning up to work is just not enough.
I believe in creating a positive environment that stimulates and motivates people. An environment that allows people to grow, develop and most importantly enjoy their work.
I am the head of accounting at Practice Ignition, a Sydney based start-up born out of an accounting firm, Interactive Accounting. We eliminate debtors and automate your invoicing through our digital proposal and engagement letter builder solution. We service 1000's of accounting firms around the world including the United Kingdom.
In prior roles I have extensive history with Intuit QuickBooks, Xero, eWAY (online payments) as well as the retail sectors.