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Are you willing to take the niche risk?

Mar 14, 2018

Are you willing to take the niche risk?

“Some people are risk takers and some are not.”

I don’t really believe this.

Granted, some are introverted by nature, and others more exuberant. (I would always rather stay home and read a book than go to a party.) But “being a risk taker” or “not being a risk taker”, unlike our personality and character, is something that can change over the course of your life. It particularly changes over the course of your business life, which reflects the journey you’ve been on.

I never considered myself a risk taker. But all the big things I did in my life – which seemed to others to be very risky – have resulted from simply “taking the next step” after the initial smaller steps stacked on each other.

People considered me very brave for quitting my job as an auditor in Arizona, and moving to Scotland without a place to live, or family members, or employment of any kind. When I set up the Profitable Firm, and was running it with a MacBook Air propped on my knees in the small second bedroom of my flat, it didn’t feel like this risky, brave,  entrepreneurial step. It was the next thing to do, and it fit with my skills and enthusiasm.

As I moved through my business journey, I found that my risk level tracked along with the successes and failures and struggles and challenges I went through. As the successes racked up, and the profits increased, the greater the level of the risks I was willing to take.

We’re far more willing to take risks when can see success stories. It’s why case studies are so valuable in your marketing. It’s why we ask for examples of similar projects completed when we’re considering working with someone new. We still know failure may happen, but opportunity shines brighter, and we take a little risk.

The more I work with accountants in the area of niche, the more I believe in it as the single most powerful way that your accountancy firm can stand out. And yet for many of you the risk still feels too big, the fear looms too large. You don’t want to be an early adopter: you want to wait until everyone is doing it…and by then you’ve missed a big chance.

Taking risks is learned skill, and you accountants have a particular edge of opportunity here. You have the distinct advantage of being the type of person who tends to gather all your facts and data before you leap into something new. You’ve worked with entrepreneurs who have rushed headlong into new ideas, and you’ve been the voice of reason and caution (whilst still championing their growth).

Your advantage allows you to take calculated risks.

When it comes to choosing a niche, or deciding to exclusively focus on one, you can calculate and test so that when you do eventually take the leap, it doesn’t feel risky at all.

Here are a few ways you can that make that risk a more calculated one, and not let fear have the upper hand:

1. Choose one or two niche areas to focus on

If you’re not sure which niche could be the most profitable for you, try a few of them. I would suggest no more than three – anything more than that will be confusing both to you and to your prospects. You can’t properly create good, custom content for more than three new niches at a time: and you’ll have more difficulty tracking the success of the content marketing you’re doing, as well.

Start with the niche area that either IS the most profitable to you now, or which you can swiftly make profitable by having a larger pool of clients in this area.

2. Test your niche before leaping in all the way

You don’t have to go all-in with your exclusive niche tomorrow. In fact, unless you can show me a good reason otherwise, I’d strongly recommend you don’t do that. Instead, create one piece of content for that niche – a PDF guide, an event, a video, a blog post. Then create another. Begin to put your niche content together so it follows the progression model concept.

This takes people from “I’ve never heard of this accountancy firm” to “This looks interesting and relevant to me” to “I’d like to work with them!” Start with a few pieces of content and build it.

This could be as simple as one website landing page focusing on:

  • The issues of that niche
  • An example of a company you worked with in that niche, and the results they got
  • A few blog posts related to the issues that niche faces
  • Helpful document, article, video, graphic that they can look at or download
  • Opportunity to sign up to hear more from you by email

3. Talk to accountants who do have an exclusive niche

The accountants who have made the leap to an exclusive niche are more profitable, more efficient, more scalable, and more saleable (if they want to be). They get qualified leads coming in the door constantly, and they turn away those who are not within their niche. This is the same thing we do at PF: it’s very rare that we do get a lead which is not an accountancy firm, but every now and then it happens, and we send them to someone else we know and trust.

Talking to someone who has nailed an exclusive niche will inspire you. You may not decide to go exclusive yourself, but you’ll learn a lot about how their marketing lets the right people come to them…and sends the wrong people away with no wasted time.

Remember that marketing is as much about saying no, as it is about saying yes. You want to say yes and no to the right people, at the right time.

4. Think hard about the way you make buying decisions

This is the single most powerful argument for niche. If you have the choice between “a company who does this thing” and “a company who does this thing exclusively and only for people like me”, the question becomes a no brainer. It happens constantly to us at PF. We get accountants who tell us that they got a quote from another agency which is physically closer, they know them personally and like them, and the cost was lower. But they want to work with us because we get the accounting thing.

They don’t have to explain all the intricacies of cash flow reporting and cloud accounting software and CRMs that integrate with accounts production software and P&L’s and Balance Sheets. We talk the language. We’ve seen what great accountants are doing, and what  mediocre accountants are doing, and we can tell you which works better.

For a buyer looking for a new accountant, they are literally swamped with options. (I saw someone post on LinkedIn about needing an accountant and a few days later closed the thread down because there were so many accountants saying “pick me! pick me!”. He said it felt like stepping, bleeding, into a piranha pool.)

Wouldn’t it be nice to offer a service to a niche area so that their buying experience, and client experience, is the best it could possibly be? Wouldn’t it be great – for your buyer? Remember that marketing is primarily all about them, not you. And this is a fantastic way to serve them, and give them the best experience ever. And it also has the potential to be incredibly profitable for you.

What do you reckon? Worth taking an initial, calculated risk?