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How to Scale Your Advisory Services

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When you hear ‘scale’ you likely picture the CEO of some revolutionary tech startup standing in front of some crazy hockey stick shaped graph.

If we professionals had access to unlimited capital, and the desire to expand extremely rapidly we could show those same vertical trajectories, but we likely don’t want that.

So what does “scale” look like for a bookkeeping or accounting business?

If you look up “scaling’” in the dictionary you’re going to get a host of definitions relating to lizard skin and weight scales - not very helpful. One definition worth sharing though is:

Scale: something graduated, especially when used as a measure or rule, such as an indication of the relationship between the distances on a map and the corresponding actual distances

Yes, that's an extremely vague and boring dictionary definition like any other, but pay attention to two words: ‘graduated’ and ‘relationship’.

Let’s dig into those two words a bit. 

There is a relationship - scale is simply a measure between two things.

Scale is graduated - so while talking about growth, it can be quick and fast, but more importantly, it doesn’t have to be, scale can be incremental. 

If we want scale, meaning structure, simplicity and relief, we have to then figure out the relationship between that end goal and what actually gets us there, and realize that we need to break the progression into incremental, gradual steps. 

The old adage: ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day and building out a business doesn’t have to be either’. 

Okay so maybe we added that last part. But, in all honesty, in the large majority of businesses, instantaneous success at scale isn’t possible, or even a good idea because of limited resources and lack of a foundation.

What you should look to do is build out a 3-5 year plan, where your end goal is scale, or in our case: structure, simplicity, and general relief from the pressure of the day to day.

That three year plan should consider: marketing, sales, operations and customer service… and how you will build them out so that they aren’t reliant on YOU, the business owner, for them to function. Your business can’t scale if everyone is reliant on you (see our blog on the entrepreneurial myth). 

Break the three year plan into 1 and 2 year goals. Chart out the general progression of how you think you can get from where you are now, to where you want to be in 3 to 5 years.

Then break down the next year into 3 and 6 months goals and plans. If you follow this plan, and consistently revise and review it every 3 months, updating as you go, the progression will seem a lot more achievable.

What goes into these plans you might ask? Short answer: a lot - more than we can cover in full here today. Two questions you definitely need to answer though are: 

  1. What kind of work do you want to do?
  2. Who do you want to work for?

What kind of work do you want to do? 

Part of why you are feeling stressed and burned out is because you are probably doing work that you don’t really love. Maybe you are a tax accountant doing bookkeeping work. Or maybe you love doing bookkeeping, but not sales tax. Think about the things you want to do, and ways you could potentially outsource the work you don’t want to do.

Who do you want to work for?

Similar to the work you are doing, you likely have clients you don’t like working for, and you likely have clients that you love working for. What is the difference between these two groups? What is it that you like so much about your “favorite” clients? This will help frame up who you want to work with in the future.

Once you know what you want to do, and who you want to do it for, what are the “jobs to be done” for this work? How does it need to be carried out? Can you detail it to the point where someone else could do it? Or at least to the point where minimal interaction from you is required?

If you have thought about these questions you will have a really strong handle on:

  • Your ideal clients
  • What they love about the services you provide
  • What you need to do to provide services to them properly

All together these questions help you solve: 

  • Your value proposition for your marketing/messaging
  • Your value proposition for your sales process/conversion
  • Standardizing your operations and narrowing your focus
  • Pricing 

These questions begin guiding you down a path of creating a standard approach, messaging, and set of services for a specific client group. So  if you are doing the same thing, in a profitable and highly repeatable way, for a group of people you like to work for…

We’ve achieved a sustainable way to scale!

Are you currently trying to scale your firm? Let us know how it's going, and if you have any questions please reach out! You can find us on LinkedIn here.