Last week, I attended the Sleeter Conference in Vegas with other fabulous accountants and learned so many great ways to improve my business, that I wanted to pass along to you. One of the best sessions I attended was led by Thomas Gawne, CPA and Director of Professional Services at CPA.com. His talk covered "How to Select and Implement a Vertical in Your Practice."
Now before you start freaking out about what the heck a vertical is, don't worry! All it means is "niche market". Vertical markets are very specific target groups usually used by those in the service industry. For example, my vertical markets are luxury fashion boutiques and beauty brands. If you own a boutique, you would likely focus on a horizontal market like Millennial aged women. However, if you are a fashion stylist you may focus on corporate women (horizontal market) within the banking industry (vertical market).
I so wish I had heard his presentation two years ago when I had decided to focus on the beauty and fashion industry. It would have saved me a lot of time stumbling around as I tried to position myself as the Lady Accountant and business expert within this space.
Hopefully this all makes sense! Susan Solovic, The Small Business expert and one of the keynote speakers at #Solutions14, said it best when she stated, "The Riches are in the Niches." The sooner you can figure out your specific target group, the easier it will be to market to them and eventually sell them on your amazing products and services.
Need help finding your specific niche? Check out these 7 tips from Thomas Gawne, CPA.
- Is it a culture fit? Do you actually enjoy learning about this industry and do you find a connection with the people within it? For me, I chose the beauty/fashion industry because I love reading Cosmopolitan and attending fashion shows. My personality also happens to be a good fit for the space. As opposed to a more traditional industry like the legal or other "professional" field.
- Develop a base knowledge. In order to best serve your clients, you have to get to know the idiosyncrasies that are unique to their line of work. Does their industry have drastic seasonal fluctuations? Is amazing PR and fabulous photos essential to their success? Do they have a high turnover rate? Do they need to track the efficiency of dealing with consumers like the restaurant industry and table turn rates? Get to know their industry inside and out, so you can position yourself as an invaluable expert.
- Get to know the industry leaders. This should go without saying, but it is absolutely vital to know who is at the top of their game within the industry you are serving. Working with musicians? You should know about artists like Beyoncé and Taylor Swift and have a sense of how their business operates.
- Offer advisory services unique to the industry. Your business is only as good as you are able to scale your operations and increase your revenues. If you're a stylist, consider bringing on a junior stylist or conducting paid workshops so you can expand your reach. If you have a luxury boutique, consider launching an e-commerce site to help boost your revenues. (We happen to offer these services, just saying. Click here to be the first to know about its official launch.)
- Conduct a market assessment. Similar to tip #2, you have to get to know your target market inside and out. If you want to offer high end services and products, you have to find consumers that will pay you for it. They are out there, but it takes some research.
- Upgrade your tools. Once you've got a clear sense of who you are targeting and how to best service them, you need to put a system in place that allows your business to run without you micromanaging it. Some easy ways to do this, is to use a cloud bookkeeping program like Xero. If you own a brick and mortar boutique, consider using a payroll system like Zen Payroll that makes paying your employees a breeze and CommerceSync that seamlessly integrates your sales information into your bookkeeping program
- Define it and Win it NOW. Whatever niche or industry you decided to choose, just own it! Stake your claim and let the world know that it's yours.
Now I want to hear from you! What is your niche market? Be as detailed as possible and leave a comment below. You never know, your perfect client may read your response.
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