Niche to Win: Differentiation and Expertise Are Key

April 6, 2016 Yoseph West

Accounting is a competitive industry. It can be hard to gain an edge. The advisors who set themselves apart understand the power of finding their niche. Here’s why going deep works, and three great ways develop your expertise.

Why Finding Your Niche Matters

As Kelly Bistriceanu of TSheets says, “Small business owners are experts in their businesses. But you become the expert in their industry.” That means advisors need to focus on a niche. It could be an industry, like restaurants or retail. Or it could be a type of work, like payroll services or CFO services. The key is to develop your knowledge and skills. Become a leader in that space.

This specialization will make you a source of great tools and advice. Your deep expertise will build client trust and revenue. And your unique solutions will make it hard for competitors to win clients away.

Connecting your differentiators to your niche

To find their niche, successful practitioners ask themselves a few key questions:

What industry or speciality do I do the most work in? Do I enjoy the work? Am I good at it? Do I see the potential for me to become a leader in that field or skillset? (I.e. payroll specialist, virtual CFO, etc.) What do I do differently and better than my competitors?

Those differentiators guide them to the right niche to specialize in.

Build Your Expertise

Once you’ve settled on a niche there are three strategies for becoming an expert in that area.
 

1.  Understand your clients’ problems at a deep level

Becoming successful in your niche means building clients’ confidence. That means getting under the hood and really understanding their business issues. Small business owners spend all day working on their problems. They see how an issue can affect all parts of their business. For example, they may have lost development staff. Now a product is late. That’s making clients unhappy. Which is hurting sales and service. Owners want an advisor who understands their business at that same level.

That's why the best advisors strive to ask the right questions. They use their specialized knowledge of the niche to unpack their customers’ issues. They ask things like, how did the problem manifest in your business? How did you try to fix the problem? How does this issue affect your priorities for this year? When customers see that you get their business just like they do their trust goes up. And that’s the basis for true partnerships.  
 

2.  Share best-in-class solutions for your niche

Once you understand your clients' issues the next step is to find the best solutions. Often it helps to understand how their business fits in the context of the rest of the industry. This means getting ahead of trends in the niche. Spend time researching and thinking about where it is heading in the next five to ten years. Ask yourself, how can we anticipate the changes and prepare our clients to succeed in the future?

And look for the best practices and solutions in your niche by becoming an active learner. Read, take part in forums and enroll in training.  Talk to other advisors (lawyers, financial advisors, etc.) to identify the most pressing issues in your niche and learn how others are solving them.
 

3.  Optimize your time to focus on providing advice

The best advisors want to spend as much time as possible sharing the experience they worked hard to gain.  They look to automate low-value tasks. That way they can spend as much time as possible helping their clients grow. 
 

The Last Word

Finding your niche is key to differentiating yourself from the competition. The expertise you develop will help you uncover best-in-class solutions. Find as much time as possible to share those solutions and you will be on your way to leading your niche.

 

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