Most accountants who run their own businesses have a purely service-based offering. That is, they provide financial tasks, support and consultancy type services.
If you run a service-based accountancy business, as you get busier with client work, there are a few options: take on more staff, outsource some tasks, or stop taking on work. Service-based businesses are essentially exchanging time spent for money, making it impossible to scale without taking on more resources. If you can productise your organisation, in part or in full, it can be easier to grow without as many costs or risks, and there can be many other benefits.
Why productise your accountancy business?
If you can get out of the cycle of just selling time-based services and start to offer some products too, you can ‘make once, sell twice’, or ideally five, ten, hundreds or thousands of times. Productisation is sometimes talked about as a ‘passive income’. Money that you can make while you sleep. While this is a nice idea in theory, productising can take a lot of work upfront, and there will be some time to keep things running. Still, the main advantage is that the potential income you can earn is much more easily scalable than a service-based business when the bulk of the work is done. You can operate much more efficiently than is possible when offering services.
On top of the scope for revenue-driving, other gains you can get from productising might include:
- the diversification of your offering and ability to target new markets or they could allow you niche down further
- the learning of new skills in the creation of your products which will be good for your self-development and the business development
- the creation of a product could help raise your profile as an expert in your industry
- the content you generate when you make your products can be repurposed as marketing content
Products are tangible with clear deliverables and specific value propositions and, therefore, should be simpler to communicate to prospects and more straightforward to market. Getting your products out there in front of people will probably bring about more enquiries for the service side of your business too.
5 ways you could productise your accountancy business
- Create packages
Put your services together to create different tiers of packages (and pricing levels) for your clients. A popular number of packages to develop is three (clients will typically choose the middle one, so bear this in mind.) Although this is not truly product creation, it can help you streamline your business and give your customers more clarity and choice. Many SaaS businesses do tiered packages well, like FreshBooks.
- Write a book
Writing a book is a brilliant way to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in the financial sector. There are plenty of options available to self-publish or print-on-demand. You can sell the book, or free books and e-books can make great lead generation incentives.
- Sell resources
Make a resource that will be useful for your target market, and you can sell it to them.
- Course creation
If you offer advisory services, could you turn these into a course? It means you can teach lots of people at one time or create it online, and people can do it in their own time. The course could be conducted in person or by webinar, by email, or you could use course creation software like Thinkifc or Teachable to host a video or text-based course.
- Build software
Building your own software or an app could be a possibility if you can spot a problem you could solve for your customers by doing so.
How to decide what to productise
Go through this process to identify opportunities for productisation:
- Write down a list of things your clients repeatedly ask you to do.
- What are the top five questions that you get asked?
- Write down your top five skills.
- What skills do you have that are unique to you or your business?
- What content do you already have that could start to be repurposed (for example, into a book or a course)?
- When you have your initial idea, ask three clients for their feedback.
- Work out what a minimum viable product could look like and launch it as early as you can.
Productisation can take a lot of commitment initially, but once things are set up, the income you can make from it could have no limits.
- Start marketing your business with these three tools
- When business is a bit too quiet
- Book: The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
Sophie Cross is the Editor of Freelancer Magazine and a freelance writer and marketer at Thoughtfully.