By Sophie Cross Members Why accountants should consider specialising 20 Feb 2019 In business, it’s often considered risky to narrow down your offering because of the assumption that this will also reduce your opportunities to generate revenue. On the contrary, having a specialism, or targeting a specific industry, could lead to more success, not less, whether you run your own business or are an employee. With the amount of choice now available to customers, modern day business strategies and marketing messages have changed considerably. They’ve moved away from generic promises of ‘quality service’ and ‘decades of experience across a wide variety of industries’. Creating a USP Now the the focus is on creating unique selling points that appeal to a selective audience and really set you apart. And the workforce trend towards a ‘gig economy’ means that companies are more easily able to recruit people who match their exact requirements, so people who are experts in their field are sought after. Specialising can make it easier to lead generate and move up the career ladder quickly and here’s why: Otherwise, you’re trying to be everything to everybody Without having a niche, how do you know where to start looking for business or a job? Marketing your business or yourself to a segmented audience is much easier, cheaper and more effective than trying to promote yourself to everybody. Networking becomes less painful By focusing on an industry you can join the trade bodies and associations for that industry and attend their conferences and networking events. These industry events are likely to be much more promising in terms of quality prospects and with less competition from other accountants than local networking or Chamber of Commerce events. Making sure your online content reflects your specialism is a great way to get found by prospects You’ll be positioning yourself as the expert By focusing on an industry or service you’ll know exactly what topics you should be talking about, and how you can add value to that industry, as opposed to just being an accountant. You’ll come across as professional, credible and confident which will make it easier to get jobs and clients, even if it is from other industries that have synergy and where skills are transferable. You’re more likely to get word-of-mouth referrals As the expert accountant in an industry, you’re more likely to be at the forefront of people’s minds when they are talking to their peers, and you’ll be more likely to be recommended. Your practice won’t be limited by geographical area By focusing on an industry, your clients will actually come to you from further afield and you’ll not be limited to the local market. This means that if your area becomes saturated with accountants or suffers an economic downturn, you won’t be affected. It’s great for search engine optimisation A property developer in Birmingham looking for an accountant is probably going to Google “accountants for property developers Birmingham”. Similarly, if a vet is looking to sell their practice then they might search on LinkedIn for accountants with veterinary practice experience. It’s unlikely that anyone will just be searching for “an accountant” and you would have zero chance of appearing if they did anyway. Specialising and making sure your online content reflects your specialism is a great way to get found by prospects. You can pick a specialism that suits you Choose an industry or service that you already have experience in or one that you think you’ll enjoy working for the most. As an accountant, you’ll get to have involvement and exposure to the other parts of the business so choose one that you find interesting. If you’re setting up your own business, do your research on where to specialise. Choose an industry that will benefit the most from your services – one that’s growing and known for having good budgets as it will be easier to charge the rate that you deserve. You’ll know where to focus your training Without choosing a service and/or industry as your niche, it’s sometimes hard to know which direction to develop your career in and where to focus your time and money for training. With a specialism, there is a much clearer pathway set out for you. It’s more likely that you can earn more or charge a premium By having a special set of skills you’re setting yourself apart from everyone else in the market. This means that instead of having to win business by competing on rate, you can justify charging a premium for your specialist knowledge. Sophie Cross is the Editor of Freelancer Magazine and a freelance writer and marketer at Thoughtfully.