More often than not, the key difference between an accountant and a consultant is perception. As an accountant, you’re probably already a consultant, perhaps without even knowing it. After all, accountants are not only skilled technicians but trusted advisors whose ability to interpret financial data proves invaluable when it comes to developing strategy and making key decisions.
You don’t just produce figures. You listen to your clients and identify their needs. You act as a sounding board for their ideas and you give them the financial insight they need to make the right business decisions. Unless you work exclusively behind the scenes and solely on the technical aspects of a business, you’re already a consultant to some degree.
The Perception Problem
The problem is that the accounting profession has become commoditised. Prospects see your firm as identical to all the others and, more often than not, they’re simply looking for the cheapest price.
Your clients may frequently come to you for advice and benefit from your knowledge without seeing you as a consultant. You may well give this advice without seeing yourself that way, too.
If you have a business filled with vampire clients who overwork and underpay you, then you’re probably acting as a consultant but only getting paid for your compliance work.
This all comes down to perception. In order to change the way your clients see you, you need to position yourself differently and start marketing yourself as an advisor rather than a number cruncher.
Narrow Your Focus
In order to position yourself as a consultant and begin offering valuable advisory services, you need to choose a niche. If you want your clients to see you as a consultant rather than a technician, you need to position yourself as an expert. There’s no such thing as a general knowledge expert, so you need to get specific and pick a niche.
Your chosen target market should tick four key boxes:
- Your ideal clients must be in pain
- They must be able to pay you well in order to overcome that pain
- They must be easy to target
- It must be a growing, rather than a declining, market
Create a Transformational Offer
Once you have chosen a niche, you must create a transformational offer to relieve their pain. Serving a specific niche allows you to create an amazing offer that directly addresses your ideal client’s exact problems and pain points.
If you’re simply offering compliance services, your clients and prospects will see you as a number cruncher who is not dramatically different from any other accountant out there. However, if you are offering advisory services that will create more lucrative businesses, your clients will see you as a specialist consultant that they cannot be without.
Show Up As a Consultant
When you have identified a niche and created a transformational offer, you must continue to show up in front of your target audience and remind them that you are a consultant. If you continue to post blogs, videos and social media updates in which you advise and educate your target audience, they will see you as a specialist. You already have the knowledge and ability to transform your clients’ businesses through your advisory services, but they won’t know that unless you show them.
Summary: Accountants vs Consultants
The primary difference between an accountant and a consultant is the way that you market yourself. If you only offer compliance services, you will be viewed as a commodity and forever remain on the ‘accountant’ side of the fence. However, when you get super specific about who you help and how you help them, you can begin selling your advisory services and this is what will take you over to the ‘consultant’ side. You need to be purposeful with your marketing and ensure that your prospects understand that you offer so much more than box-ticking services. Niching your marketing will allow you to be perceived as VITAL and start scaling up to a seven-figure practice.