The 9 step guide to business development

Here at 1 Accounts we are invested in helping your business develop and succeed. We find allocating some time each week to business development is the best way to really make sure that your business grows according to your plan.

Business development is:

  • any activity that is nurturing the future of your business, not the day-to-day tasks that tend to drain the majority of your time.
  • about nurturing the right relationships so that you can create opportunities for your business and attract loyal clients who value what you and your firm do.
  • highly valuable and is key to the long-term, sustainable success of your firm

So how do you do it and do it well?

1) It’s all about the client

Rather than sell at potential clients, focus on what they need. Always listen to them first and demonstrate empathy with their problems before ever talking about yourself and your firm.

2) Address their problems and fears

Now you know their specific challenges and worries, address them. What’s the biggest headache for your clients and prospects? How can you alleviate this pain for them? Again, talk to them about what keeps them up at night and listen. They’ll tell you all you need to know.

3) Solve their specific problem

If you already have a product or service that solves their biggest pain point, great! If you don’t, create something from scratch. Diversifying could open you up to a whole new target audience.

4) Think about your main offering

In a single sentence, sum up what you offer to your clients and this will be your brand tagline. Steer clear of things like “we give a personalised service” and be more specific. Do you take away a specific fear and help your clients sleep at night? Do you give them more time to spend with their family?

5) Differentiate yourself with your website and social media

You need to be spreading the word about how you can help your clients. Essentially, you need to be helping them to find you. Make sure you have a high-quality website that is SEO-optimised and has pop-ups offering valuable resources. You will also need to be regularly active on social media.

6) Build your brand

This takes time, but becoming an expert in what you do will reap the rewards. Use your tagline offering in everything that you put out there and produce content consistently. Whether it’s blogs on your website or posts on social media, create that emotional connection and you’ll see that people will engage.

7) Make it easy to get in touch

People will take the path of least resistance so make it easy for them to contact you. Contact details should be easy to find on your website and all call to actions should be clear throughout your marketing materials.

8) Nurture the relationship

So much business is lost through a lack of following up, so be there in front of your clients and prospects to build those relationships. Every blog post you’re sharing or newsletter you’re sending out should offer value; it should answer a question or solve a problem or inspire action. There is real value in regularly being in front of your clients, just as long as what you’re saying is useful to your target audience.

9) Focus on getting your existing clients to buy more from you

You already have a great relationship with your existing clients and they already like you, trust you, and know first hand the value that you offer. It makes sense then, to help them get more from you.

It really is as easy as 1,2,3…9

While business development is essentially sales, you need to always be thinking about who you are targeting and what they want to hear, rather than talking about yourself and what makes your firm special. What are their specific problems and aspirations? Using these 9 steps, you can get creative with your messaging and really stand out to your prospects.

6 key changes businesses should have made over the past 2 years

The pandemic has been transformative in many ways. It has changed how we view our health, how we communicate and, of course, how we run our businesses. Whilst we certainly wouldn’t want to do it again, it has taught us a lot of valuable lessons. In light of the lesson we’ve learnt, we thought we’d share 6 key changes we believe all businesses should have made since the pandemic:

1) Hybrid Working

Before the pandemic hybrid working was a lot less common, however this is no longer the case. Recent studies have shown that 76% of companies have adopted a hybrid working model since the pandemic because it has proven to be so effective!
Employees are more productive, more engaged and generally happier when provided the opportunity to choose their work environment. Your employees and your profit margin will thank you for adopting a more flexible working model!

2) Internal Communications

Learning to navigate a business in social isolation has really highlighted the importance of effective communication, not only between team members but between firm owners and partners too.
We made sure to have daily zoom meetings with the whole team throughout the pandemic so that we all had a chance to see and talk to each other, even if there was nothing particular to report. Without these open streams of communication we would not have been able to adapt our businesses, engage our teams or maintain operations during the Covid-19 crisis.
Therefore, you must continue to prioritise and invest in your internal communications. After all, if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that effective communication is a valuable commodity.

3) Digital Processes

Working from home forced us to adapt in more ways than one. However, the most notable difference has been the global shift towards virtual working and digital processes.
Adopting cloud-based software has innumerable advantages, but perhaps the most noteworthy is its ability to increase efficiency. In a recent survey, 48% of respondents agreed that cloud computing increased their efficiency thanks to cloud automation and broad network access.
So, if you haven’t already, do yourself a favour and start streamlining your processes by using a digital payment process and introducing automation tools to your workflow.

4) Advisory Services

If guiding our clients through the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that our advice is both valuable and scalable. Developing your advisory services is something you need to make sure you are doing.
Offering tailored advice can be a simple way to utilise your expertise, enhance client relations and increase revenue. So don’t limit yourself to debits and credits – expand your services by offering relevant business advice!

5) Outsourcing

In a time when we had to adapt quickly many businesses had to outsource labour and resources to operate, and that continues to be the case. Labour shortages have forced us to seriously evaluate what we can and can not deliver in-house.
Yet, despite the great resignation and the global pandemic we’ve come to find there are actually many benefits to outsourcing.
Outsourcing can improve revenue, increase efficiency, and reduce operational costs. What’s more, it enables you to delegate tasks outside of your expertise, allowing you to channel your energy into what you do best. Don’t be afraid to ask for help as you’ll need it if you want to scale your business.

6) Refined client base

They say that every cloud has a silver lining. Whilst the pandemic did present us with many hardships, it also allowed us to take a good look at our client base.
If you’re yet to do so, we highly recommend reviewing your client base as well. Who are your high-value clients? Which clients drain your resources? The aim is to identify which clients you can afford to let go in order to save yourself both time and money.
Although culling clients is never easy, refining your client profile can be extremely beneficial if done respectfully. This will help you make space for more clients that fit your ideal client profile!

Future-proof your business

Unfortunately Covid-19 won’t be the last challenge we face. There will always be another bump in the road or another fire to put out. By implementing these suggestions you have the ability to streamline your business, optimise your performance and keep up with your competitors, all of which are essential when preparing your firm for the future.
Try not to be despondent when times get tough. Remember, challenges are also opportunities for growth and innovation.

How accountants can make you look good

When you as a business owner think of an accountant, you think of taxes, financial reporting, or loan applications. While this is all correct, it is just the beginning!

Accountants may be the frontrunners when it comes to your finances, but we can offer so much more than that. One of our most valuable offerings is making you look good!

Here are some ways that accountants can help you with your image:

1) They help you look professional 

Accountants can help you manage your accounts, budget smartly, and fix your cash flow, all of which are the foundations of a successful business. They can also help you to automate your business and work more efficiently.

For example, automating your invoicing system so you no longer need to chase unpaid invoices or reconcile payments manually. Not only does this save you a lot of time and free you up to focus on other areas of your business, but it also makes you look professional to your clients as they can see that you’re on top of your processes.

2) They help you remain competitive

One of the most common mistakes that business owners make is that they become too chargeable. I.e., they are not charging enough for their services. While this may bring in more business initially, in the long term, it will start choking your business growth.

By pricing correctly, you can let go of the clients who are not paying enough or who don’t align with the direction of your business. Once you start pricing what you’re worth, you’ll soon see that you will attract the right types of clients – the ones who support your growth and overall goal.

3) They help you look & feel confident

With an accountant by your side, you will be able to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. You will be making smarter business decisions such as increasing your capacity by outsourcing working rather than hiring a full-time employee, and you will have the figures you need at your fingertips. Figures that will give you, your clients, and any other third-party peace of mind.

4) They help to reassure your clients

If your business grows suddenly and takes on more clients, some of your existing clients may be worried that you can’t handle this growth, or they worry that they will become less important to you. To reassure your clients that you’re growing sustainably, an accountant can help you forecast the future and outline your business strategy. They can help you make necessary changes now so that you’re prepared for any growing pains.

Invest in your image 

A good impression of your brand is incredibly important, so invest in an accountant to make sure that you give off a positive one. From helping your business run smarter, to outlining the future for your business, an accountant can help you to reassure yourself and your clients that you will sustain value and growth for the foreseeable future.

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How to attract the right clients (ones who value what you do)

I heard this saying recently, “you get the clients you deserve.” At first, I wasn’t sure what it meant so I dug a little deeper, but my conclusion was and still is, that this is 100% true.

Think about it, if you’re accepting low-paying, nit-picky clients and you’re not setting their expectations for how you actually like to work, you’re going to keep getting these types of clients who you don’t even enjoy working for. Conversely, if you stick to your guns with your prices, you set client expectations, and you emanate confidence and passion for what you do, you’re going to weed out the energy-drainers and only attract the type of clients that you actually want.

Sounds perfect, right? It really is as simple as that. If you want to attract the right kinds of clients – the ones who actually value what you do and are willing to pay for it – here is how you do it.

Step 1: Create a growth plan and strategy

Choose your ‘one big focus’ for your business for the year ahead. Maybe it’s to win X amount of clients or to reach a financial goal. Whatever it is, write it down and work backwards to create actions that you need to take every month, week, and day, to reach this goal.

Step 2: do a full client portfolio analysis

Make a spreadsheet of all your clients and go through them all individually. Record what you do for them, how long it takes, your profit margin, whether they are easy/medium/hard to work with, if you like working with them, and whether you’d be happy to lose them.

Step 3: create your client personas

Now you have identified your best clients, create a client persona/s. This should outline their age, gender, occupation, education, family/marital status, goals, values, personal aspirations, fears, challenges, and pain points. The more detailed you can be with this, the clearer the picture will be of who you are targeting, what they want, and how you should communicate with them.

Step 4: tailor your marketing to your client personas

The mistake that many business owners make is being too generic with their marketing. They want to cast as wide a net as possible to “appeal to more people,” but what ends up happening is they make no impact at all. When you have your client personas, adapt your marketing message to target them. You only want to win these types of clients so address their specific pain points and position yourself as the solution or the guide that can help them achieve their goals.

Step 5: ditch your ‘D’ clients

Look back at your client portfolio analysis and identify your A-B-C-D clients. Typically, they are as follows:

  • Clients who make up 65% of your sales = A clients
  • Clients who make up 20% of your sales = B clients
  • Clients who make up 15% of your sales = C clients

D clients are those low-paying, nit-picking clients who you’re not really happy with and who don’t contribute a huge amount to your bottom line.

The last step in the process of attracting the right clients is to ditch these clients. Not only does this give you more time to go after the ones you actually want, but it makes room for them too so that you can provide them with the service they deserve.

business person

How to handle a client enquiry: the 4 step-guide

How you handle a client enquiry can determine whether that prospect converts into a lead or whether they go elsewhere. It’s true, we all remember first impressions. To help you make the best first impression that you can, here is a solid sales process that you should follow.

Step 1: get their contact details

Your prospect has either emailed you, called you or walked into your office, so contact has been initiated. Before you do anything else, make sure to get their landline AND mobile number.

This is essential for when you get to the follow-up stage, as people are more likely to respond to a text message rather than an email or missed phone call.

Step 2: book a pre-qualification call

The receptionist or anyone in your team can do this 10-minute call (if you have a pre-qualification script that they can follow). This is where you pre-qualify your lead by asking specific questions. Are you talking to the decision-maker? Are they a good fit for your business?

If they aren’t a match for your business, try to help them by referring them to another business that does fit.

Step 3: book a discovery meeting

For prospects who fit with your business and who you want to work with, book a discovery meeting with them. Give them some pre-work before the meeting such as sending you information that will help you get to know them for the meeting. This will show you if they are serious about moving forward and it will weed out any price-sensitive shoppers who are just looking for a free service.

During the meeting, you should use the information that they gave you to find out more about them. Ask open-questions for the first half of the meeting to identify their specific goals, interests, challenges, and fears. When you know and understand their emotional drivers, only then can you effectively move on to the ‘selling’ portion of the meeting. I.e. positioning your business as their solution. This is where you will discuss potential solutions with them.

Step 4: send the proposal and follow up

Don’t wait too long to send the proposal over to the prospect. If you’ve made a great first impression and triggered the right emotions during the meeting, you need to strike while the iron is hot.

Create and send the proposal to the prospect as promptly as you can (same day is best) and then follow up until this is signed.

Turn your enquiries into leads

Streamlining your enquiry process will save a lot of time and hassle for you and it will make you appear very professional and organised to your prospect. Making a great impression from the get-go results in benefits for you both, so follow these steps and you’ll be turning more enquiries into leads and clients than ever before.

old clients and new clients post it note

3 ways to find the value in your current client base

I don’t know about you, but Covid has me all out of whack. In the past, I’ve had a clear roadmap for growing my business and it’s worked. Since Covid, however, it now feels like all the roads are ‘under construction’ and we’ve been diverted but without being told where to go.

Now, an easy trap to fall into is to do nothing. Nobody knows what’s going to happen over the next year after all, so why bother? I’ll just carry on doing a bit here and there and my business will be fine.

While that may feel like a good decision to make, it is actually a risk. It’s akin to driving with your eyes closed or without a SatNav.

We can all grow our businesses during a recession. We can all thrive and win new business, actual clients that we want; we just need to know which direction we are going and how we are going to get there.

Here’s how to do just that.

1. Create a growth plan and strategy

If you want to grow, you first need to know where you want to go and then outline the roadmap to help you get there. For example, write down your ONE BIG FOCUS for the year. Maybe it is to win X amount of clients or reach a financial goal. Whatever it is, make this your yearly goal and then work backwards. What do you have to do every quarter, every month, and every week to achieve this?

2. Find your ‘golden egg’ clients

The next step is to find your diamonds in the rough, Where are the easy wins in your current client portfolio? Who gives you the biggest bang for your buck? Who do you love working with the most and who pays you the best? Do a full analysis of your existing clients and you’ll find who your ‘golden egg’ clients are. These are the people who are most valuable to you.

3. Focus your marketing to win these high-value clients

Once you know who your most valuable clients are, create detailed client personas for these clients. Outline as much as you can about them (e.g. age, gender, goals, values, challenges, fears etc) and then use these to tailor your marketing message. If all of your marketing material talks directly to them, addressing their challenges and appealing to their wants and needs, you’ll find that you’ll start to win many more of these clients.

Find your current value and use it to grow your business

If you want to grow your business, even during a recession, it’s not about finding more and more clients. It’s about looking for the diamond in the rough and finding those golden egg clients that you already have. Once you know who your ideal client is, you can then create effective marketing materials and streamline your processes to win these bigger and better clients.

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How do I land the right clients for my business?

While sometimes it’s necessary to take on clients at a lower price than we want – especially when we are building a portfolio – it is not a strategy that will help us grow our business in the long term. What will help us grow the business that we want and in the direction that we want, is to win the right types of clients at the right price. Clients who value our service and will pay what it is worth.

Are you struggling to land clients at the right price? Chances are, it might be something that you are doing (or not doing), so here is how to rectify that.


If you’re not currently doing the following during your sales process, start implementing these now.

  • Do – make it easy for the prospect to book a call

This is such a simple thing to do, yet it has a massive negative impact on your ability to win more clients if you don’t. Make it easy for your prospects to book a call with you and they will.

  • Do – understand the emotional drivers of the prospect at the start of the fact-find

95% of our purchase decision-making takes place subconsciously, so by identifying what the emotional drivers are for your prospect, the better you can empathise with them and position your firm as their solution.

  • Do – set up a follow-up meeting

You don’t want to leave your prospect wondering if they’ll hear from you. Email them letting them know what they need to do and when they need to respond by if they want to proceed, or the next action if not.

  • Do – sign them up and onboard them (or put them back into the sales funnel)

Many accountants don’t put unconverted leads back in their sales funnel and that is a big mistake. We need to nurture leads into customers over time, and these are contacts who are interested and see the value of your service! You need to stay in front of these warm leads until they are ready to buy.


If you’re currently doing the following during your sales process, stop it!

  • Don’t – skip the pre-qualification meeting

The aim of the pre-qualification meeting is to fully vet the opportunity and make sure that it ticks all of your boxes. Don’t be tempted to skip it! Get the prospect to fill out a questionnaire and charge for an initial meeting. This will help you to determine fit and to evaluate whether there is a real opportunity.

  • Don’t – do the new business meeting if the prospect hasn’t sent you the information you need

You can’t show the prospect that you fully understand their needs and challenges if they haven’t sent you the information you need, so don’t go ahead with the meeting. You need this information to convert them, so don’t waste everyone’s time if you don’t have it.

  • Don’t – take too long to get a quote to the client

If you take too long to get a quote to the client, you run the risk of losing them altogether. Don’t do this. Avoid frustrating the prospect by providing them with a quote swiftly after you have buttered them up.

  • Don’t – use the proposal document as options to the client

The client wants to move forward at this stage, so don’t confuse them or set them back in the process. They should have already met with you and discussed all potential solutions, so the proposal document is where you’re pitching the final idea.

Get paid what you are worth

Growing a practice sustainably isn’t just about winning more clients. It’s about winning good clients; the types of clients that you love to work with and who see the value from your service and are more than willing to pay you for it. To start landing clients at the right price, make sure that you start doing the Dos and avoiding the Don’ts above.

I'ts okay to say no


Are you saying yes to every piece of business coming your way?

Do you hear yourself saying ‘I wish I’d never agreed to this?

Are you losing money on small jobs that aren’t worth your time?

If you answered yes to any of the above, this blog is for you.

The art of saying NO.

It can be difficult to say no to work. Especially if you are running a small business. However, qualifying leads and setting expectations is vital to move your business forward. Don’t undervalue yourself and don’t take on work that will disrupt your businesses ‘flow’.

The lesson of saying no has been a long one for our Director Paul. He is a yes man. However saying yes to everything has often put us out of pocket and disrupted our business structure, leading to confusion in the practice. Last year we implemented a very strict and lengthy onboarding process for new clients. Starting with a phone or zoom call to see if we are the best fit for the business enquiring. This then eliminates anyone that doesn’t fit into our business model and indeed if we don’t fit into theirs.

Pauls Experience

“With the help of my business coach Heather and nearly 30 years experience I am finally starting to understand the importance of no. This lesson was tested to the full this week.

I have for many years worked with Sage and in particular Sage50, unfortunately the Sage50 platform is not a true cloud product. When opening 1 Accounts, one of our unique selling points was that all of our clients are using cloud based accounting software to keep their records. Using cloud based software allows us to give up to date help and advice to clients that we (and the client) can access from anywhere. This has without a doubt helped us through this pandemic as we have been able to affectively work from home and give our clients the same level of service.

This week I had to turn down a client I acted for many years ago. Despite being a great business and nice people, they do not want to move from desktop sage 50 to Xero. It was with a heavy heart that I wished them well and did not take them on.

Was this a mad decision?

Definitely not. Our service works because all of the data is live and on hand. Our business model is based around this. Our client service would not be as good, and my team would have become frustrated with software they are not used to, or ‘experts’ in. We have taken on Sage50 users in the past, and they have all, without exception, had issues resulting in all of them moving to Xero.”

The lesson of the day

Saying no is an important business lesson. Don’t bite of more than you can chew and stick to your guns. Your business has a brand, stick to it.

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How can I use webinars to win business?

Webinar marketing is all about hosting online workshops to build a relationship with attendees and to promote and increase credibility for your business.

What’s great about webinars is that they are a win-win for both parties: attendees learn valuable content and, if you do it right, it markets or achieves a sales outcome for your business. Sounds good, right?

While webinars are a great tool to use to win business, if you don’t do it right, it can end up costing you a lot of time and effort for little reward. So this is the point of this short article. We want to show you the 3 essential steps for how to use webinars to win business.

Step 1: start with the end in mind

If you think about what you want to achieve from your webinar before you start, you can make sure that it is relevant and that it is a topic that is in demand. Before creating your webinar, explore these 4 questions:

  1. What is the purpose of my webinar? Is it just to inform clients, to stay front of mind or to sell an additional service?
  2. Who do I want there? Is it for existing clients or potential clients or both?
  3. What pain points are my audience motivated to solve? What are their biggest challenges at the moment?
  4. When will they attend a webinar? When is the most ideal time for them?

Step 2: get people to sign up, turn up, stay till the end, and to buy from you

For your webinar to be successful and for it to win you business, you will need these 4 essential processes in place:

  1. How I will get people to register – your webinar needs a catchy title and objectives that promise value and raise curiosity. You also need to pick a time and day that is best for your audience and use an email marketing tool to assist with registrations.
  2. How I will get people to turn up – streamline a process for sending email reminders to attendees (we send a total of 5 reminders to ours) and call warm prospects or people you want there.
  3. How I will get people to stay to the end – keep your attendees engaged and make them want to stay. You can do this by making the webinar highly interactive (especially at the beginning); tell them the agenda, promise something for those who stay to the end, and make it about your audience and their issues.
  4. How I will get people to buy – you need to show your audience their ‘ideal’ scenario and position your product/service as the solution to getting them there. You can do this by including case studies of clients who have had the same or similar issues and how you’ve helped them to take action and resolve them. You can also include statistics, show them the different options available to them, and have clients actually on the webinar to advocate for you in real-time.

Step 3: use the right technology

Technology can make or break a webinar, so make sure you are using the right tools. Tools that will assist you and make your life easier rather than tools that limit you. If you want to win business from your webinars, you need to be using the following technology:

  1. Webinar or online meeting software (e.g. Zoom, Microsoft Teams etc)
  2. Decent broadband and ideally a webcam
  3. Automated diary booking system (e.g. Calendly, AcuityScheduling etc)
  4. Registrant data collection tool (e.g. Eventbrite or the other event software)
  5. Bulk email marketing tool (e.g. Active Campaign, MailChimp etc)

Webinar marketing is a great way to win new business and to stay in front of your existing clients. You just need to know how to create a relevant and engaging webinar that your audience is interested in and you need to make it as easy as possible for people to remember to turn up and buy.

How to say “no” nicely (and not damage business relationships)

How to say “no” nicely (and not damage business relationships in the process)

One of the most important things you can learn as a business owner is how to say “no” nicely and not damage any business relationships in the process. Yes, it is possible. Not only is it possible but it is also essential; essential for the health of your business and essential for your sanity!

So how do you say no politely? How do you stop saying yes to things that waste your time, and drain the energy and resources that could be better spent elsewhere?

3 steps to say no” (nicely)

1, Start by expressing a desire to help

A “no” can be softened if you start with a statement of regret so let them know that you wish you could help. Something like “Thanks for thinking of me. I really wish I was in a position to help/work with you but I’m afraid that…” This shows your good intentions which makes a “no” easier to accept.

Holding hands

2. Blame yourself and explain to them why

woman crossing arms to say no.

In simple terms, you essentially need to tell the person why “it’s not you, it’s me.” You don’t want them to feel bad for asking or for you to come across in a negative light for saying “no” to their request, so make it clear that you can’t say “yes” because of your own limitations. Maybe your focusing on a specific area of work or you don’t have the time to give them the service that you’d want to. Maybe your business just isn’t the right fit for them.

It helps to provide the person with a simple explanation about why you’re saying no, so keep it short and clear. The most important thing here is that they understand why you can’t help them.

3. Point them towards help

Although you’re saying no to someone, you don’t want to damage your reputation or your relationship with them, so try to help them if you can. After all, you expressed your desire to help at the start of your refusal, so put your money where your mouth is.

Can you offer them an alternative person or business who could help? Can you direct them to a specific resource? If you can give them advice or a next step to move forward, they’ll be left feeling very grateful to you rather than disappointed in you.

hand pointing

Start saying no” the right way

Saying “no” the wrong way or saying “yes” to projects or people you’d rather not…both of these are doing more damage in the long run. To start saying “no” the right way, follow these 3 simple steps: start with a statement of regret, explain why you’re saying no, and end by offering them the help that you can. If you do this then you’re not damaging any business relationships and you’re preserving the essential energy and resources that you need to propel your business forward.