Theo Paphitis and Nadia Hossen Mamode
Bee Accountancy

Accountex 2019: Go niche or go home

1st Apr 2019
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It wouldn’t be Accountex without a rallying call for practitioners to niche. Fresh from her Practice Talk appearance, Nadia Hossen Mamode is flying the flag for niche at this year’s event.

If you’ve ever taken in the different educational sessions at Accountex, you will have surely come across at least one speaker advocating the power of niche. But what separates Nadia Hossen Mamode’s talk from previous niche musings, however, is the symbiotic relationship she’s formed with her military niche.

While the jury is still out on whether going niche is the right direction for every new firm, the power of going niche has certainly paid off for Hossen Mamode’s relatively new firm, Bee Accountancy.

Her secret to building a six-figure practice from her spare room is not going to shock anyone attending her ‘go niche or go home’ talk – it’s all down to knowing her niche. This is evidenced by her being shortlisted for a Soldering On award and listed by former Dragon's Den entrepreneur Theo Paphitis on his Small Business Sunday update (pictured above with Hossen Mamode).

But Hossen Mamode did not just amble into a chosen client base. Her accountancy practice came out of the needs of the military community – a niche of which she has first-hand knowledge.

A niche to help the community

Married into the armed forces, Hossen Mamode left her life as a chartered accountant in audit when her husband was posted away from London. At the same time, she took her career break after becoming pregnant with her second child.

Hossen Mamode quickly adapted to military life, but kept an eye on her next career move. Looking at local accountancy jobs she earmarked a move into industry once the baby was born. But then another career opportunity landed in her lap.

“While I was pregnant I was spending time with the military community. In this community, everybody helps out with the various things that they know about. If somebody knows about knitting, and someone's going to have a baby, they'll knit you something. People came to me with various bits of advice." A lot of the feedback said they'd pay for this advice,” she told AccountingWEB.

And so, Bee Accountancy was born. “Initially, I started Bee accountancy and I didn't think of it as a business, rather as more of something to help the community.

“Once I started speaking to people and charging for it, I started to get loads of referrals from within the community. For example, somebody posted in another base in the north of the country said they're thinking of starting a business and somebody would say 'you need to speak to Nadia'”.

“I thought 'I have a niche'. I didn't go out and think about what my niche is going to be. I have a niche here and I do have a product. I told the community that I was going to officially launch on this date. From the day I launched, I started having loads of people coming to me and switching from their current accountant because they were not happy with the service they were being offered or wanted something a bit better.”

Build your tech around your niche

Like all good niches, it was a sector that nobody noticed. “If you go to the general public and ask 'do you think military spouses have businesses?' They'd probably say no and assume the spouses are just following their partners up and down the country.”

However, there are a lot of military spouses who, like Nadia, have set up online businesses, so when they move, they can move the business with them.

Because Nadia was starting a business from scratch, she was able to build her business processes and digital tools around the niche. Since her clients are all around the country and often posted abroad, it made sense that from the start she embraced accounting tech.

“My clients would move every two years. They cannot have this traditional local village accountant model because it simply doesn't work for them. A lot of the traditional accountancy firms could not really help them. What they needed was somebody who could move with them and this is how Bee Accountancy works.”

Gain the trust of your niche

Actually being part of that niche cuts deeper than ideal client profiles and having a certain number of clients from that sector on your books. Being fully integrated into that niche brings trust and through that referrals. “I am from the same community so I had the trust of the other people in the community, so they could check up on me.

“There are aspects of military life that some people will not understand if they have not lived it. A company will talk to me and say, this week I am having a difficult week because their husband has been deployed and they have to deal with the business and childcare and various stuff. And I can say, I've been there and I can understand where they're coming from because it is something I've experienced.”

If you’re attending Accountex 2019, check out Nadia Hossen Mamode’s talk on day two in the sales and marketing theatre.

While you’re at it, the No Accounting for Taste podcast will be recording live at Accountex: join the AccountingWEB team and special guests at 3pm on day one in the How To Theatre.