Setting up a new business will require marketing, selling yourself and your services. Where you advertise and how you advertise will depend upon who will be your target audience, such as businesses or individuals.
Advertising in local publications, such as a parish magazine will be comparatively cheap, but by their very nature, the audience will be limited. You will probably gain a number of personal tax clients, and maybe a few small business clients, but if you are aiming to sell specialist tax services rather than mainstream compliance, you are unlikely to win any clients this way.
If you are planning to offer your services to other professionals, then advertising in a journal that those professional will have access to should be a good source of work.
- Direct mailing to small accountants, solicitors firms etc
You may want to target specific local firms, in which case you might prefer to mail them directly, either as a letter enclosing a brochure on your practice, or a letter on its own with a summary of your services that are appropriate to the type of practice you are mailing. Your brochure may be in the form of a client newsletter referred to later, or as a purpose designed leaflet on your practice. If you mail them, do follow your mailing up with a telephone call and try and arrange a meeting with them. You may consider sending the letters in batches over a number of weeks rather than all at once so you have the time to investing in meeting with them.
It can be easy to fall into a pattern of keeping clients in isolated compartments, by just completing their annual self assessment, or business accounts, but you will want your clients to know what else you can do, as you’ll be disappointed to learn at the annual meeting that they have taken specialist advice on an area which you advise on from a competitor, only for them to say. ‘I didn’t know you did that’, this could be Inheritance tax planning, or trust advice, so you may want to device a mechanism whereby you write to all your clients periodically, such as quarterly or every six months with a reminder of your services and maybe including an anonymous example of what a typical client saved by taking your advice and contacting you before they proceeded with a transaction. Not only do you want your client to use you for the exceptional work at their suggestion but you want to put the idea in their head that they need that advice and have that review done in the first place. Assuming of course that they need the advice in the first place, as neither the CIOT nor ATT condone selling services to clients that they do not need!
- Join local business groups
Are there business networking groups in your area that you can join to get direct access to business owners? If you know in advance who will be attending a scheduled event and do some homework on companies you would like make contact with so when you get to meet the representative at the function you can talk to them with some knowledge, everyone likes to be complemented on achievements so if you can congratulate them on successes or newly launched products listed on their website you will be able to keep their attention longer and they might be open to hear about your business without sounding like you have jumped straight into your own sales pitch. If you do not know in advance who will be there, try and get a list of attendees at the event and those you do not get chance to meet follow up with your own dedicated approach.
- Building links with local complementary professionals
If you are offering specialist services, other professionals will be your main source of referrals, as they seek to offer the full range of services to their clients or for one off issues that they are not comfortable advising on. It is human nature to call upon someone you know and you’ll want them to think of you when an issue crops up, so check out all the firms in your area, look at their websites, and look at the skill sets of the proprietors and principal staff, ifyour specialist area is not mentioned, contact them to set up a meeting, and build up a relationship with them so you will be the first person they think of when the specialist issue arises with one of their clients.