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Ways to identify business growth and market expansion opportunities

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GROWTH 8 mins 23 Dec 2022 by Kasey Clark
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Identifying growth opportunities for your business can be difficult, time-consuming, and possibly risky, especially during an economic slowdown. But you can do it. Here, we explore potential opportunities for growth within your business. We examine how technology and communication are critical to your growth plan of action, and detail how to execute that plan with confidence and clarity.

You’ve hit your stride, and you’re operating a successful small accounting or bookkeeping practice, with a solid business model and a steady client base. Now you’ve reached a juncture where you’re looking for business growth, but at minimum risk.

Growth opportunities for business

For accountants and bookkeepers, a number of effective strategies exist for growing your business. When choosing the areas of growth you want to pursue, think about your reasons for wanting to grow and the goals you hope to achieve. Look at business growth strategies that align with your budget, timelines, competition, desired market share, and capacity. These business growth strategies can include forming strategic partnerships, increasing your online presence, expanding into new markets, and adjusting your service offering.

Forming strategic partnerships

Strategic partnerships provide one avenue of growth opportunities for business. Such alliances involve a contract between two companies to realise mutually beneficial goals. Both you and your clients can profit from the innovative ideas, capabilities, and strengths of your partner organisation.

There are a couple of ways accountants and bookkeepers can approach these relationships. “You can either be like for like and offer the same services, trying to expand the footprint of the people you service,” says Rebecca Mihalic, Ignition’s Head of Accounting APAC.

“The other good thing about strategic partnerships is when you partner with someone who doesn't do what you do – complementary businesses. Because if you work together, you’ll have this opportunity to refer work between the two organisations, she says. “If you're an accountant, you might partner with a financial planner, for example, because you have different licences.”

Rebecca Mihalic
“The other good thing about strategic partnerships is when you partner with someone who doesn't do what you do – complementary businesses. Because if you work together, you’ll have this opportunity to refer work between the two organisations. If you're an accountant, you might partner with a financial planner, for example, because you have different licences.”

Rebecca Mihalic , Head of Accounting (APAC) at Ignition and Director businessDEPOT

Increasing your online presence

In our digital age, amplifying your online presence is another must-do to increase your growth opportunities. Your online presence comprises everything from your social media profiles and posts to your emails, website, and any other materials you share online. A robust online presence lets you boost brand awareness, reach more people, and increase leads.

The challenge, then, is doing it right. If your online presence is flimsy – poorly designed, difficult to navigate, unhelpful – you’re losing out on business opportunities.

As ‘numbers people’, the online branding realm understandably may not be where your strengths lie. According to Rebecca Mihalic, it’s then about engaging the right professionals to effectively bolster your online presence. “I think that's where accountants and bookkeepers stuff it up,” she says. “They'll try to post a couple of blogs on their website, which is not even a great website. They don't really know what they're doing… it has to be more than that. It has to be a proper, well-thought-out and validated online and marketing strategy to make an impact.”

Expanding into new markets

Perhaps you’ve reached a plateau in your local market and are successfully meeting its demand. It may be time to look to other markets. Can you identify a gap where there’s sufficient demand in a new market and see an opportunity there for additional clients? Is there a market your competition has yet to penetrate? These are a couple of the questions to ask yourself when trying to determine the viability of a business opportunity.

“Market expansion is absolutely a growth opportunity,” says Rebecca Mihalic. “Geographically, there really shouldn't be any borders in our business anymore, particularly after COVID. We all worked from home for two years, so we know we can do this online.”
Rebecca Mihalic
“Market expansion is absolutely a growth opportunity, Geographically, there really shouldn't be any borders in our business anymore, particularly after COVID. We all worked from home for two years, so we know we can do this online.”

Rebecca Mihalic , Head of Accounting (APAC) at Ignition and Director businessDEPOT

Extending your service offering

As you look to the year ahead, it’s a good time to review your service offering. “Your service offering is absolutely a way to increase your revenue,” says Rebecca Mihalic. “Are you offering every single service that you have – and know how to do – to every single client you have? What else can you do that you're not currently offering?”

This is an area in which technology can play a key role in helping you identify business opportunities and formulate a growth strategy. Tools on the market can help you focus your business growth efforts. “You can use your existing technology and database to assess the services you're not offering to everybody,” she says. “Then you can build out a client service matrix to find the holes to be able to offer additional services.”.

“You can also use technology to determine your most popular and your highest profitability services,” she says.

Ignition’s Business Intelligence Dashboard, for example, can track your revenue breakdown by service, highlighting your most profitable services. “It doesn't specifically identify the growth opportunity for you, but you can use that data to assess holes and opportunities yourself,” she says.

Once you’ve reassessed your service offering, you want to feel confident that you can manage that offering. “Make sure you understand the service you want to offer if it’s a new service,” says Rebecca. “Then make sure you have the team, skills, ability, and licences (if appropriate) to offer that.”

A note on process improvement

Process improvement aims to streamline the way you work by removing inefficiencies, optimising performance, improving quality, reducing waste, and creating more value for customers. Though it is not a growth strategy in itself, process improvement can help empower revenue growth.

“Process improvement will not help you grow in revenue in an accounting or bookkeeping firm,” Rebecca says. “You still have the same amount of customers… same amount of customers, same amount of revenue. However, process improvement might make growth happen quicker, which will increase your profitability, but it's not going to increase your top line. It will potentially give you the chance to find more opportunities to grow by giving you some time back. And time is one of the biggest roadblocks to growing an accounting firm. So, process improvement can give you back the time and capacity to go after growth opportunities.”

So, conduct an internal review. Look at what you want to achieve in the coming year, how you can improve your practices, and which processes you can automate.

With Ignition, for example, accounting and professional services firms routinely win new business by automating and creating impressive digital proposals and engaging clients with a clear scope of work. Plus, these firms get paid on time by also automating payment collection.

Learn how centralised billing can keep you ahead of the game with upcoming client invoices and payments.

Communication is key: retaining and attracting clients

When trying to grow your business, you certainly want to attract new clients, but you also want to hang on to existing ones.

“Historically, accountants, when they're trying to retain their customers, they often over-service them,” Rebecca Mihalic says. “That's not a sustainable solution, particularly if you're over-servicing and under-invoicing.”

Rebecca Mihalic
“Historically, accountants, when they're trying to retain their customers, they often over-service them. That's not a sustainable solution, particularly if you're over-servicing and under-invoicing.”

Rebecca Mihalic , Head of Accounting (APAC) at Ignition and Director businessDEPOT

Instead, she says, you want clear, more open communication lines with your clients. This means effectively setting down the rules of your engagement, where both sides are clear on their responsibilities and what they have to bring to the relationship.

“That's important for retaining clients, so they always know where they stand, but it's also really important for attracting new clients,” says Rebecca Mihalic. “Having clients come back to us again and again and making repeat business is all about having good relationships, which comes back to good communication. It’s just the same stuff between married people, right? You’ve got to talk!”

Platforms such as Ignition help manage these client relationships and enable this communication. “It’s that technology piece that we can always go back to and check what we are doing for who, when, and how,” she says. “It's a contract between us and our clients.”

Executing your growth strategy

When it’s time to execute your chosen growth strategy, technology can help there, too. For instance, business dashboards let you view your key business metrics. You’ll understand where your business has been, where it is now, and where it’s going – providing full visibility into your cash flow. Such real-time insights help you make informed business decisions with confidence and clarity. You can forecast your revenue for the year ahead, which means you can also forecast your business growth.

Likewise, Rebecca Mihalic asserts, communication is key to successfully executing your growth strategy – this time, internally with your team. “If you have determined a strategy at a higher level and it’s something you want to do, you need to make sure you bring the team along for your journey,” she says. “Explain to them what's going on, what their responsibilities are, and any new things that they have to do or look out for if something's going to change.”

Just as you have ambitions for growth, employee career growth may be an aspiration for some members of your team.

Recognise, too, that your growth strategy is not simply ‘set and forget’. “You have to revisit it and assess it against the current environment, your capacity, your current clients, and what you want to achieve,” she says.

Managing your growth

Indeed, with a service business, when you’re looking at growing, you need to make sure you have the capacity, skills, and expertise to manage that growth. “Make sure you've got enough people, and the right people on the right jobs who are able to do the work,” Rebecca Mihalic says. It’s also important to know when to “turn the tap off”, she says, because you don’t want to overgrow. “Recognise that ‘this is my capacity. If I want to offer x service to y clients, what is the y number when I have to stop because I can't actually service them anymore?’”

Over to you

Business growth is a tricky business, but it is achievable if you have the right communication, people, and technology tools in place. By capitalising on insights informed by real-time data, you can make clear, confident decisions around the growth of your business.

For more information on our Business Intelligence Dashboard and how Ignition can help your business identify, plan for, and execute business growth opportunities, watch our online demo.

Book a demo of the Ignition software

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Kasey Clark
Kasey Clark

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Published 23 Dec 2022 Last updated 23 Dec 2022