Chapter 4

Niche and virtual bookkeeping businesses

Designing your bookkeeping business around a specific type of client or your strengths can be a successful way to go.

What does a niche bookkeeper do?

A niche bookkeeper usually focuses on a certain industry. Becoming an expert in a sector can let you stand out from the crowd. You can develop services that address their specific needs. Each industry has its own financial challenges to focus on.

Construction and trades

  • Job costing and back costing
  • Cash flow between buying supplies and getting paid

Online stores

  • Processing online payments
  • Cross-border sales taxes, multi-currency, and exchange rates

Retail

  • Staying on top of cost of goods sold
  • Managing inventory

Professional services

  • Tracking project profitability
  • Managing contractor and staff expenses

Capturing a niche isn’t all about offering the right bookkeeping services. It might be about relating to where they are in their business journey and striking the right tone.

There were 700 local cannabis farmers in our county and most of them were new to business. They’re used to being talked down to by business professionals. We wanted to change that.

Brett Gonsalves, Rolling Hills Bookkeeping

Five reasons to find a niche

A niche provider can focus their energy on perfecting a few key services. As a result, they simultaneously get better and faster at doing what they do. Put another way, their value goes up while their costs come down.

Here are five ways that a narrower focus can make you stronger.

1. Business comes to you: Becoming the known expert in a field will generate more word-of-mouth referrals.

2. Deals close faster: Prospects will understand you’re a fit for their business before you even start talking.

3. You can work smarter: You can come up with efficient processes that lower your cost of sales. In essence, you crowdsource your experience and dispense that knowledge out across your client base.

4. You have a license to charge more: You may be able to deliver highly specialized and valued services at a premium price.

5. It’s more fun: You get to do the things you love. All day. Every day. For people you want to work with.

Specializing by industry, service, or technology

Your bookkeeping practice could specialize by:

  • industry – becoming the go-to bookkeeper for farmers, lawyers, or restaurateurs
  • service – making the most of your particular strengths
  • technology – developing expertise on certain types of software

These things are often intertwined. If you like a certain industry, you’ll probably develop the skills they value most, and you’ll learn the technologies that work best for them.

No matter how intuitive software might be, people simply don’t have time to learn all the tricks. They’ll happily pay their bookkeeper to make sure they’re using it effectively.

Meryl Johnston, Bean Ninjas

Go national (or global) as a virtual bookkeeper

As momentum builds, you can push outside your local market as a virtual bookkeeper.

Virtual bookkeepers work remotely for their clients using online accounting software to provide services and video calls for meetings.

You get to serve more clients than you’d normally find in your town, while clients generally get great value because your costs of doing business are lower. For example, a virtual bookkeeper:

  • has fewer overheads (no high-street office space rent to pay)
  • spends less time commuting to meetings
  • develops efficient workflows through frequent repetition of niche services

We made the decision to go online at the same time as we developed our niche. Our market is happy to be served digitally – it was one of the reasons we chose the niche!

Jason Blumer, Blumer CPAs

Disclaimer: Xero does not provide accounting, tax, business or legal advice. This guide has been provided for information purposes only. You should consult your own professional advisors for advice directly relating to your business or before taking action in relation to any of the provided content.

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