May is National Story Telling Month, so let’s have a story…
Janine is an accountant, and a very good one.
Qualifying as a chartered accountant with KPwC, Janine enjoyed the opportunity to explore different areas of accounting, audit and tax. This was a great position to find her feet and learn, so Janine stayed at KPwC for 11 years, getting a wide ranging experience and developing her skills.
As her life changed, Janine realised she wasn’t getting the same from her role any more. She’d moved house and the commute was stressful, her children were starting school yet she was still prioritising work rather than family. Janine had seen others do it and knew there was another option – starting her own business; JG Accounting was born.
Although Janine had been working for a long time, she knew JG Accounting’s clients were very different from those of KPwC and she’d need to go and find them. She started with local business networking.
Going to local meetings and chatting with other business owners – in groups and one to one – Janine made some great relationships. She was surprised at the number of people she met who were worried about their accounts, didn’t really know what they needed, and occasionally chose not to look too closely because they didn’t understand what they saw. Janine liked helping and providing reassurance, answering questions and giving support – these were things she knew she could help with.
One day, Janine was having lunch with her sister-in-law Sue who was just setting up her own business; they talked about JG Accounting and Sue picked Janine’s brain. As they settled back over coffee, Sue thanked Janine for her help. Reassuring her friend that she was happy to help, Janine smiled “I’ve discovered, I love helping other business owners”.
As Janine explained about networking, one to ones, and helping those she met with their questions, Sue noted “But surely you don’t get paid for that, you’re helping them for free? How will you make money if you’re giving away your secrets for nothing?”
Janine thought about that, yes she had a few clients paying her but things were new and a lot of her time was spent networking. Maybe she was giving too much away?
Friends in Need
As the Year End approached, Janine’s client numbers were increasing – some she met at networking and others through word of mouth. More and more of her conversations were with those who were worried about getting things ready for the Year End, not knowing what was needed and trying to find out how to get everything in place.
Janine knew that if she was having these conversations, there must be people interested who didn’t know who to ask; she decided to help.
Creating a number of social media posts, Janine pointed out some useful tips to get people ready for the end of the tax year and offering help for those who got in touch. She also did a ten minute talk at her networking group, outlining the highlights she felt everyone should know – there were lots of questions.
Janine’s network – and client list – grew. Her posts were shared on social media and the members of her networking group were passing her name onto contacts, very often calling her ‘the helpful accountant’.
Changing the Rules
As JG Accounting continued to grow, so did Janine’s reputation.
When the government announced changes to tax regulations, Janine knew people in her network would be looking for advice. On a call with her client Matt – a marketing consultant – this was clarified. Talking through how these changes would affect him, Janine told Matt she’d created a simple checklist which made it easy to tell which steps he should follow. As his accountant Janine said she’d handle it all for Matt, but he wanted to know more about this ‘simple checklist’, telling her how useful that would be for many of his contacts.
Following Matt’s suggestion, Janine created a simple PDF checklist and realised she could use this to her advantage. By making the checklist available on her website and social media she offered it to anyone needing this help, also creating follow up emails with more support about these new changes.
Janine listened to her clients and network, understanding their problems and giving them the information they were looking for. By creating a newsletter and regular blog posts, she provided her audience with simple suggestions and tips about keeping a clear focus on their money management. While these things did take up her time – and were giving away her secrets – having the information available actually made answering ad-hoc queries easier, as she could often say “I wrote a blog about that, I’ll send you the link”.
Giving It All Away
What Janine has realised is, giving away her secrets isn’t hurting her business.
People don’t take the information she’s offering and try and do their accounts themselves. The reason people want Janine to do their accounts is because… well, they’ve got better things to do and would rather she did it.
By giving away information, Janine has become trusted (she’s even heard people call her an expert). Her clients and contacts are comfortable recommending her because they’ve come to know her and know that she’ll support their contacts.