A lot of young entrepreneurs reach out to me for guidance on how to get new clients. Although, I’m no expert in getting clients – but most of them are still interested in knowing what worked for me and what didn’t
So I’m writing this article to share with you How I got clients for my tax consultancy business which I had started from a scratch.
PS: I didn’t have the patience to wait for 30 odd-years to establish my practice. I wanted clients fast and this is what I did to set-up my Tax Consultancy Practice.
How did I get my initial set of clients
Business is all about get Clients. The more clients you have, the more money you make.
Moreover, our services are like subscription services. The client will need our services again and again and the same client will come every month/ year.
He will not only become a recurring client, but will also refer more people to enroll for your services.
But how do you get these initial set of clients?
There are various ways and sources through which clients can come to your office. I’ve briefly mentioned the things which worked in my case and helped me get more clients.
Experience of dealing with Clients coming through my Family Network
Everyone knows that a lot of clients come through Networking.
And I always thought that I have a huge family and most of them are businessmen so atleast I have my first set of 10 clients ready.
I was very optimistic that my family members would leave their CA and come to me to get their work done.
And this is what they always said. While I was doing my CA, they always said that as soon as I complete my CA – they would be my 1st client.
But, did my family members ever come to me to get their work done??
The answer to this is Yes and No.
In the initial years – they took me as a newbie and were reluctant to change their CA. For the first few years, they never came to me and kept citing one reason or the other. Initially, it was very irritating but I was optimistic that they will certainly come to me one day.
And Yes, the day finally came when they came to me to get their work done. And, I was delighted to see them come to me for their work.
And I did their work with sincerity and all the hard-work. But, when it came to making the payment for my services, what they paid me was peanuts. They got all their other non CA work done through me as well and in the end what they paid me was not even 1/3rd of what I deserved.
I had already given them a discount as they were my family members but it was very saddening to see them pay such petty amount despite the fact that I had given them the discount.
Reason for this: They always thought that being a family member – I’ll do their work for free.
Yes, this is what actually happened and the same may have happened with some of you as well.
Advice from my Seniors
The initial years were bad. There were no clients. And on somedays, I used to feel so depressed that I used to think that maybe I’ve taken the wrong decision of not taking up a Salaried Job.
This was very disheartening and this is when I started approaching my seniors for help. I told them I have many family members as clients but they are not willing to pay. And they started laughing.
They started sharing their experience as well and told me that the same had happened with them during their initial years as well.
And after meeting them, I realised that it is only my family members who were not willing to pay me my service fee, this is an industry-wide trend. In most cases, family members are not good pay-masters.
Useful piece of Advice
My seniors explained me that being a rank-holder, I was technically excellent in doing work. But I knew very little on how to get clients.
And they told me that getting clients is an art and I’ll learn it by doing it.
It was during one of these meetings with my seniors that one of them suggested me to read this book – 5 Tips to Get More Accounting Clients.
I instantly purchased this small book and read the whole book within 1 night. This book taught me How to get Clients through Networking.
Although, I was doing a lot of networking earlier as well – but after reading this e-book I realised that I was doing it all wrong. This book taught me on how to do networking correctly to get more accounting clients.
As this is written by a foreign author, some things mentioned in this book – looked irrelevant to me – but the Networking part was very useful.
Building a Professional Network
During this period, I was thinking about moving from my home-office to a proper office space. And while searching for a proper office space, I came to know about the concept of co-working spaces.
A co-working space is an office space wherein a lot of small businesses share a common office. The owner of that co-working space manages the whole office space like A/c, Internet, Electricity, Water, Housekeeping etc. There are various co-working spaces in India like 91Springboard, Innov8, Wework etc.
So I joined a co-working space for some time and shared an office space with many other businesses.
I started applying the tips which I read in the book and it worked wonders.
And it was this network that got me my initial clients.
Other notable points about Co-working spaces
- These client’s didnt come come to me on Day 1. It was only after almost 6 months that they started coming to me.
- The bigger the co-working space the more the prospective clients
- In some cases, co-working spaces may turn out to be expensive but think about the additional business which you can generate from co-working spaces.
- Co-working spaces are good for people who are just starting their practice,but may not be that good for people who already have a decent practice.
- Always evaluate if co-working spaces can work in your case or not.
Events, Seminars, Professional Networks
After getting some clients through Networking through Co-working spaces, I started joining other networks as well to get more clients.
I initially thought of joining the BNI Network through which I could meet prospective clients. But their joining fees and annual fees was too high for me to afford in my initial years.
So I rather started joining other groups like the RWA Group. By joining this group, I was able to meet so many people who resided in my adjoining areas and some of them also hired me as their CA.
I’m also very active in the start-up community as well and have been invited a couple of times as a Judge for various start-up competitions.
Events and Seminars are also a good way to clients. And if you can be a speaker at any of these events, it works wonders. I recently got an opportunity to speak about GST in an event organised by Zoho in one of the 5 star hotels in Delhi and after the event a lot of people asked for my visiting card and later ended up enrolling for my services.
Although, I have limited experience of being a speaker in events – but I must say that this is the best way to get clients. I’ve also now started getting more opportunities for being a speaker and I’m eagerly looking forward to it.
Getting clients through my Website
I established my website i.e. charteredclub.com and started posting information on the website. Whatever research I used to do, I wrote an article on that topic.
And I used to post the complete information. The article used to be so detailed and simple that a prospective client could read the article himself and do the work himself.
And this thing worked !!!
Rather than doing the work himself by reading the article, the client got the belief that I know everything about my work and thought that I would be the right person to handle his work.
So, it is the trust that I built online by writing detailed and comprehensive articles in my own words which got me the clients.
PS: Whenever I write – I write for the common man as it is the common man and not the Tax Consultants who are my clients. And therefore, I always try to write it in such a manner which is easier for the common man to understand. One more thing – Website recognition takes time. So you’ll have to be patient.
Getting Clients Quora and other similiar Platforms
Every client wants to go to that CA who has the complete knowledge about their field of study. So, irrespective of whether it is a face to face meeting or an event or website – if you are able to win the trust of the client that you are the best person to be taking care of their work – the probability of a client coming to you is much higher.
And it is for this reason that I built a website wherein I used to write articles which people used to read and reach out to me.
And today my website ranks for most of the key terms which clients are searching for. But, it does not rank for all the keywords.
There is a lot of competition on Google and therefore ranking your website on google is getting extremely difficult. (Thankfully, I build my website very early which helped me rank on Google)
But my ultimate aim is not to rank my website on google – it is to help clients and to show them that I’m very well equipped to help them. And to do this – I used to be very active in answering questions on Quora and on other popular forums which rank on Google.
And as I was helping a lot of people, these people slowly started coming to my and started enrolling for my services.
How much money did I spend on advertising?
Honestly, the money spent on advertising the website/ my services was
Yes, you read it right – I have never spent a single penny in advertising on facebook or google or any other media.
I’m a firm believer of the fact that the clients come to us only if they trust us. In our business, the client will only go to the Consultant on whom he has trust.
I don’t think a client goes to a consultant just by seeing advertisements. Moreover, as per ICAI Norms, practicing CA’s are also not allowed to advertise to solicit clients (but sadly some CA’s still advertise a lot on Facebook, Google, Pamplets etc)
So, rather than spending my time and money on advertising, I tried to spend money on things which will increase my client’s trust on my quality of work.
(PS: Advertising may be working for some Consultants (non-CA’s) but I personally don’t like Advertising so I never advertised. And yes, I do receive money from companies who advertise on my website but I never pay anyone any money for advertising)
Building Client’s trust
The most effective way to build a Client’s trust is by providing him quality service. If you are well versed with all the laws and are able to deliver better than your Client’s expectations – the client is very likely to stay with you.
However, apart from your services, there are several other things as well which helped me build a client’s trust which I have briefly explained below.
1. Good Office
A decent office at a decent location will certainly help your client increase his trust on you.
If the office is not decent and is in some shady place, it will give the client an opinion that maybe, you don’t have decent clients who are paying you decent money as a result of which you are unable to have a decent office.
This can be a turn-off for some clients and therefore it is advisable to have a decent office.
2. Guest Columns on Newspapers and TV Channels
Although I have my own website on which publish my articles, I also write articles regularly for newspapers like Economic Times, The Hindu Business Line, Financial Express etc. I have also been featured several times on NDTV.
Rather than writing articles for these newspapers, I could have simply posted them on my website. But, that would not have helped.
The reason for this is that if the same person sees articles published at 10 different places, it builds more trust rather than seeing at only 1 place.
Moreover, many people still feel that Newspapers and News Channels are more trustworthy as compared to Online Media so writing for newspapers and appearances on News Channels.
Another benefit which I got from this is that many people who didn’t know me earlier also came to know about me through Newspapers and News Channels.
This activity has been very useful and I continue to do this till date.
3. Writing Books
One of the most effective things which I did which helped me create a brand was writing books. It works wonders.
Just imagine the impression that you get in your mind when you hear the name – Girish Ahuja or Vinod Singhania or V. S. Datey.
You may not have met them personally but because you have read their books – you know that they are highly knowledgeable and one of the best tax experts in the country.
Books helps build a huge brand that the author is an top level expert in the subject. I know writing books is difficult but that is why it has value. Only an expert who has complete in-depth knowledge of the subject can write a book.
This does not mean that you have to write books on the complete Income Tax or GST or IFRS. You can start writing books on smaller topics and then later compile all these topics.
Writing books is a time consuming process but it is certainly worth the effort. The 2 books which I have authored on Presumptive Tax and Capital Gains Tax have significantly helped me increase my client base.
Other relevant things which I did
To be the best, you got to be better than the rest
I believe a lot in the above mentioned quote and these are some of the things which I do to be better than the rest:-
1. Always Dress to Impress
Although I prefer casually more than formals, but I’m always dressed in complete formals when I’m meeting clients. And by complete formals I dont mean simply wearing a tie and a shirt – it also means which color to wear and how to ensure you look your best.
2. Receive payments Online
This thing may not help you get more clients but certainly helps you build a brand. Just imagine what feeling you get when you visit a store which does not accept Card Payments ??
And therefore, I started using a payment gateway called Instamojo (which does not charge any monthly/set-up fees) and started giving the option to my clients to pay online through Card. Although very few of my clients pay through Card, but it gives all of them the impression that I’m so professional that I’m receiving card payments as well.
When I joined Instamojo payment gateway, I had a Rs. 500 coupon code shared by my friend which helped me get Rs. 500 as joining bonus.
If you also intent to enrol for an online payment gateway, you also get Rs. 500 joining bonus by using this coupon code CHARTEREDCLUB8bd7.
Well, I think this pretty much all that I have to share about my journey. Writing this article has been a nostalgic experience. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Further, I also hope that it helps you drive some inspiration for your business.
I’ll try to keep sharing my experiences of growing my practice with you all in future as well. If you wish to connect with me, you can join my email newsletter through this link and we can stay connected over the email.
Good Luck to you all!