Every young entrepreneur needs to learn as much as they can to get a good start on their journey. And who better to teach those lessons than one of the world’s most successful businessmen?
As an entrepreneur, you’re used to facing adversity.
What’s happening in the world right now is an unprecedented situation. But as someone who has focused on overcoming the odds for years, you’re prepared for it. You faced adversity when you set up your firm. And you deal with it now when facing competitors and finding new clients.
You can overcome anything that stands in your way.
But there’s no harm in getting a little help.
To create a truly VITAL accounting firm – with clients that see you as critical to their success – you have to focus on so much more than the services you offer. You have to focus on yourself and what you bring to the business. Your job is to be the epitome of a great entrepreneur.
And who better to learn from than Richard Branson?
The head of Virgin, and the many companies that fall under that umbrella, Branson worked his way to the top. He faced adversities, particularly in regard to his dyslexia. And he overcame them all to become one of the most prominent entrepreneurs of his era.
These are the lessons that you can learn from him as you progress in your own journey.
Lesson #1 – Find a Purpose Beyond Making Money
Why do you want to be in business?
To make money?
That’s going to be on every entrepreneur’s list. But the danger comes when it is your only reason for being in business.
Branson puts it best when he says:
“It’s a common misconception that money is every entrepreneur’s metric for success. It’s not, and nor should it be. I’ve never gone into business to make money.”
If your only goal is to make money, you likely don’t have a true passion for what you’re doing. This means that you’re not going to put your all into helping your clients. You’re just going to look for ways to make more money from them.
And while this may work in the short term, those clients will recognise that you’re not going above and beyond. They’ll see that you don’t have their best interests at heart. And that means they’re likely to leave you for another firm, one that they connect with on a deeper level.
Your purpose gives you your drive. It’s the motivator that pushes you through adversity. Figure out what your purpose is, beyond the simple act of making money.
Lesson #2 – Be Original in Everything That You Do
Whatever you may think of Richard Branson, there’s no denying the fact that the man is a true original. Just look at some of the PR stunts he’s pulled over the years.
This is a man who once wore a wedding dress to promote his new bridal business. He’s set off on several attempts to circumnavigate the globe in a hot air balloon.
And this originality extends to his businesses. Everything that he does has this air of fun and mischief embedded into it. When you spend money on a Virgin product or service, you’re always getting something different.
As an accountant, you offer services that a lot of other firms offer, too. Failing to find the unique quality in these services leads to transactional relationships with clients. And that means that they’ll look to somebody else the second that they see the same service for less money.
Being original means finding what makes you unique and making that a core part of your business. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go as far as Branson does in terms of merging your business and personal brands. But you do need to find that little unique something that engages your audience.
Lesson #3 – Be Visible
Richard Branson specialises in making himself visible.
Within his businesses, he’s always available for his teams. Branson isn’t somebody who hides behind a desk and lets his people get on with it. He actively engages with his people and works with them to come up with new ideas.
But that’s only one part of what being visible means.
The other part relates to how visible he is outside of his business. Branson’s extremely active on social media and he’s constantly in the public eye. He’s not shy about sharing his wisdom with other entrepreneurs. He creates content constantly, whether it’s full blog posts or just pictures of himself doing what he loves.
That visibility is a key part of why he’s considered such an authority in the business world.
And it’s something that you need to emulate if you wish to build authority.
People don’t follow people they don’t know. That’s why making random LinkedIn posts won’t get you any traction. You’re invisible except for the odd occasions when you share something. Then you disappear for weeks, or even months, at a time.
To build authority, you need to put yourself out there. You have to talk about what makes you special and use your expertise to solve other people’s problems. Over time, people will come to respect what you say and trust that you can do what you promise to do.
And that trust will ultimately lead to more business for your firm.
Lesson #4 – Maximise Your Use of Social Media
Social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools that your accounting firm has at its disposal. As Branson puts it:
“Tools like Twitter and Facebook are wonderful ways to get your message out to a wide audience. Social media is not only more cost-efficient than advertising, but it also offers great opportunities for innovative engagement with your customers. Use it to your advantage.”
These tools offer you the chance to build authority. They allow you to create a sense of community around your firm that you can leverage to get more clients.
And as Branson points out, social media marketing costs far less than other types of marketing. As long as you post regularly and, most importantly, offer value with those posts, you will develop a following.
The trick comes in turning that following into a pipeline of leads.
Use social media to nurture your prospects and help them to understand the level of value that you offer. This ensures they’re ready to listen when you make your offer.
Lesson #5 – Don’t Be Afraid to Learn as You Go
Perfection is the enemy of progress.
Unfortunately, too many entrepreneurs try to become perfect before they launch anything. And this means that they never take action. They spend so much time in preparation that they end up paralysed.
And before they know it, their competition has sailed past them.
Even a billionaire like Richard Branson knows that he doesn’t know everything:
“It’s really important to realize that it doesn’t matter if you don’t know – because you can always find out. Seize opportunities and don’t give in to self-doubt.”
It’s impossible to check every box and eliminate every variable before you do something. There’s always an element of risk, or something you don’t know.
Don’t let these things stop you.
Take action anyway and see what happens. The things you don’t know now you can learn along the way. And those lessons will mean that you’re better prepared for the next big thing you try.
Lesson #6 – Have a Simple Message
So many accounting firms make it difficult for their prospects to buy from them.
Maybe you drown your prospects in industry lingo or have them jump through tons of hoops to understand your message. And with every obstacle, you’re giving that prospect an opportunity to go elsewhere.
Branson says that you should make your message as simple as possible:
“Ask yourself, why did I start my business? Be honest – this will help you establish an authentic value and voice. Then break your message into something simple.”
There’s complexity in every business and your clients will eventually come to grips with yours. But that’s not something they should have to do from the outset.
When you simplify your message, you create clarity. You tell your prospects who you are, what you do, and why. This removes any uncertainty about your business and makes it easier for them to raise their hands and say they want to work with you.
Branson Overcame Adversity… And So Can You!
The lessons we’ve shared here didn’t come easily for Richard Branson. They’re the result of a long journey, filled with constant trial, error, and learning. He’s done it all and he’s got the battle scars to prove it.
And that’s why he has so much value to offer any young entrepreneur.
Take the lessons shared here and apply them to your accounting firm.
Is your message too complex?
Are you doing everything you can to make yourself visible and build authority?
If not, you need to get yourself out there and let people know who you are and what makes you different.
The key is that you don’t just do what everybody else does…That will just get you the same results as everybody else.
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