It’s an overused and over abused term “business coaching.” Time and again accountants put their hope in a business coach who promises them the world. Often that results in a bunch of gimmicky content and outdated sales tactics. While this might work in the short term- there isn’t a long game in mind- not to mention it doesn’t get the right clients through the door.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic business coaches and mentors out there. They help build the business owner’s confidence and give them the reassurance they often need.
If you’ve got a great coach and feel like they provide all the value you need- awesome. I truly believe you’ve found a diamond in the rough.
But do you really need one? What’s important for a business coach to provide and how do you know if they are good? Is there another option to the traditional “coach” role? And does marketing play a part in all of this?
In our experience working with accountants, we find their coach falls into one of three categories: mentor, guide or coach.
Mentor: Someone who has traveled the same road before. Likely a good listener, offering support and encouragement along the way. They rate high on the empathy scale but don’t put up with bullshit.
Guide: Usually they have a specific focus or expertise- think HR consultant or a payroll professional.
Coach: If you’ve ever participated in or watched any sport ever, you always know who the coach is. They are the one pushing you, urging you to “Do better! Work harder! Be faster!”
Accountants need a mentor/coach hybrid.
You need someone who gets it. They understand the unique needs of your industry and will listen to you even if they’ve heard the same thing from hundreds or thousands of other accountants.
A mentor/coach pushes you to do better while still holding empathy for everything you are experiencing. The aforementioned BS factor is highly important- they won’t tolerate it and will call it for what it is.
Guides are helpful, but typically need to be hired after the mentor/coach role is fulfilled.
Having a mentor/coach in place is important to structuring your firm to grow and scale successfully. It will be more appropriate to take on those more specialized guides once you’ve got your key goals in place and are working towards them.
To run a successful and thriving firm, start with defining your goals.
While it’s a basic business concept, remembering your goals often gets lost in the fray when you are working in your business and not on your business. Getting caught up in the day to day and forgetting to look at the big picture can cripple your business growth (which might be the catalyst for getting a business coach to begin with.) Inevitably your coach will talk to you about goals.
While coaches are very goal oriented, most of those goals revolve around money. Money can help you to achieve your goals, but it’s not always the end all to them.
A good coach will take time to help you figure out your goals in the areas of:
1)Marketing and branding
2)Hiring and team
4)Clients (how many you want and what kind)
Document your goals for the next year in each of these areas.
After you’ve done that, look long term and document what you’d like to accomplish in the next 5 years (pending we don’t have another global pandemic to reckon with #fingerscrossed).
These goals affect how you run your business. They challenge where you are and where you want to be. They also affect your marketing.
Your marketing goals are your business goals.
Each of the six goal areas above can be accomplished through good marketing. When you know what you are trying to achieve, you know how to situate yourself in the marketplace to get there.
Use a marketing team or creative agency that
-acts as a mentor/coach for your firm.
-specializes in the accounting industry.
– has a proven track record of helping accountants get the very best clients.
When you do this each of the six goal areas can be achieved. When you know what you are trying to achieve you’ll situate yourself in the marketplace to get you there.
The following 6 actions coordinate with the 6 goal categories. Taking these steps will have you accomplishing your goals and doing the things you want to be doing with/in your business.
1) Have a good brand that reflects your firm’s values.
It will attract the exact clients you want and you’ll have your choice of how many you want to work with. It will also attract the team and talent you are looking for to run your business. You’ll have employees that are raving about you and a line of people who want to work for you.
How do you know if your brand is effective and reflects your values?
Ask yourself these questions:
Does my brand truly reflect who I am?
Does my brand carry a story?
Does my brand deliver for the intended audience?
Does my brand focus more on my clients than on me?
Are the leads coming in from my website/social media qualified and the exact kind of clients I want?
Answering no to anything of these questions means it’s time to take another look at your brand. Reading a book like Building a Story Brand is a great place to start. It’ll help you get in the mindset of what a powerful brand looks like and what your brand could be.
Is your business coach an expert in branding and marketing?
From our experience, most coaches tend to use marketing and sales as interchangeable words. While at their best marketing and sales are wholly integrated, most often coaches tend to provide sales advice that doesn’t coincide with current content marketing recommendation and expertise.
2) Make sure you have the right team members in the right seats.
Exploring your goals and your brand might reveal that some team members don’t fit within your team anymore- or that they aren’t in the right seat in your company. You might identify it first, but often the team member will be able to self-identify once your firm has done the hard work of branding.
1) Confirm and document your values. This allows team members to know if they are a value fit for your company.
2) Read the book Traction. It will very specifically help you determine if the right people are in the right seats.
Does your business coach know your team?
A mentor/coach can be extremely helpful in this area. They need to know you and your team. If your team isn’t working the way it needs to be, a coach/mentor will help you figure out what needs to change and how to change it.
With all your people where they need to be, it’s time to take a look at your systems.
3) Your systems will set your clients and team up for success.
Recall the last time you ordered something online from a company you’d never heard of before. How was your experience? Were you left feeling disappointed or delighted by the process? If you were disappointed, it’s likely because somewhere along the way there was a system breakdown. If you were delighted, it’s because that company has put their heart and soul into the client experience.
Smooth running internal systems make for happy team members. When everyone knows what they need to do and how they need to do it, there is little room for miscommunication and error. I mean, we’re all human, so don’t expect robot status. But genuinely, improved systems create better and more efficient workflows that allow for error that isn’t catastrophic.
If your systems feel overwhelming, find the gaps in your processes using a simple G-sheet.
1) Create tabs for each process
2) List the steps in the process
3) Have team members review and see what steps need to be added or what has been missed.
4) Fill in the gaps in the process.
Once you’ve solidified all your processes and can do them all manually, you might consider using a tool like Karbon. Countless clients have told us how Karbon has changed their lives and helped get their systems running smoothly. While shiny new tech can’t solve all our problems, if you’ve got the manual system running well, chances are adding in the tech may make things even faster.
Is your coach helping you analyze your systems?
From prospects to onboarding to general workflow, your coach needs to help you figure out what’s working well and what needs improvement. Knowing the in’s and out’s of the way you do things is critical to achieving your goals.
4)Happy team members = happy clients.
The better your internal systems, the more time your team has to tend to the experience of your clients.
You are no stranger to this. You tell your clients all the time about the appropriate tech stack to put in place or the proper way to set up a Chart of Accounts- all in the name of efficiency and helping them do what they do best (which incidentally is not the accounting :))
Happy clients lead to great reviews and testimonials to draw in more leads and ultimately more clients who are pleased and find value in the services you provide.
5) A firm with an effective brand, excellent team members and well-established processes allows you to price what you are worth.
By the time you’ve got these things in place, your accounting firm will be saturated with all the good vibes you can muster. Your ideal clients recognize your unique set of skills and the value you bring to their particular industry. They believe in what you are doing and will pay whatever you charge them because they recognize what they are losing by not working with your firm.
Accountants notoriously undercharge what they are worth. Why? Because they are kind people who want to help as many business owners as they can.
But that’s not profitable.
You can give away information always, but make sure you are making people pay for implementation. If they’ve seen your brand or talked to your clients or experienced your team, they’ll know what they are getting.
If they don’t see the value, they aren’t an ideal client.
1) Do I give away services that I should be charging for?
2) Do I feel undervalued by my clients? Are they asking me why they are being charged for something?
Answering yes to either of these questions means you need to do some work on your pricing. Watch this video from our friend James Ashford at GoProposal and start the process of re-pricing your clients.
What is your coach telling you about pricing?
This often falls back to marketing vs. sales. There are lots of coaches out there that will tout the “psychology of the buyer” and how providing 3 options will always make the buyer choose the middle option.
That thinking is outdated.
Buyers know that tactic now. These days they are doing 70% of their research before ever getting in touch with you. They are looking for a firm who can solve their problems. If you can solve their problems, they will pay you what you are worth.
When you are pricing what you are worth, your financial goals are within reach.
You know as well as we do that if you know your value and stick to it, you will make more money. More money gives you the ability to invest more in your brand and marketing to get the very best clients and the very best team. And ultimately you’ll be able to compensate your team and yourself appropriately.
6) Being compensated allows you to achieve your personal goals.
You started a business because you wanted to do something and likely that something has some relation to what you’d like to do in your personal life. Whether it’s to travel more or buy a new Audi or simply just spend more time with your family- you have personal goals you are trying to achieve. While money might not be the end all to these things, it certainly helps you get there.
You can help your team achieve their personal goals as well.
Doesn’t it sound fantastic to not only be able to do what you want in your personal life but also help your amazing team do what they want? This can happen!
1) Having regular check-ins with each of your team.
2) Ask what personal goals they have (for life, work, income, etc)
3) Create a plan to help them achieve their goals. This will likely include milestones they need to accomplish to move to a certain income level, workload, etc.
*Disclaimer- this will only be effective if you have a team that lives your values and is open to being vulnerable with you as to what they want to achieve.
Choose a coach who focuses on more than just profit.
Remember a good coach will help you identify your goals in the areas of:
1)Marketing and branding
2)Hiring and team
4)Clients (how many you want and what kind)
They’ll also help you find solutions to each of those goals.
How does your business coach measure up?
Is your investment worth it or are you better off working with a mentor/coach who can help you identify your goals, relate them to marketing and help you execute the necessary steps to achieve said goals?
If you’re looking for a mentor/coach who can do those things, you’ve found it in PF. Learn about our Foundations workshop and get that booked. You’ll work with 2 of the PF team to carve out and make decisions regarding your goals in each of the 6 areas and figure out how your brand, website and marketing plan will help you achieve them.
Looking forward to chatting with you and happy goal setting!