How to Compete With Apps: Ideas for Accountants

by Sean Ross

2 min read

A spate of apps and software make it easier than ever for small business owners to handle their own accounting, payroll, and tax prep, but these tools also make it harder for accountants and bookkeepers to find new business. Whether you’re just getting started or are an established professional, you may want to explore some strategies for competing with accounting apps.

Leverage the Power of Apps

If you can’t beat them, join them — that rule definitely applies to accounting apps. If you haven’t transitioned to cloud-based accounting software yet, you may want to consider making the move. Switching to QuickBooks Online Accountant reduces data entry tasks, allowing many accountants to do the same work for their clients in 20% less time. That means you can handle more clients and potentially lower your prices to be more competitive. With the accountant version of this software, you get an overview of which clients need attention on the dashboard, have the ability to share numbers with clients in real-time, and can even take advantage of marketing tools to reach new clients.

Train Clients to Use Apps

Although some clients may still want you to help them with basic accounting tasks, others may prefer to handle their own accounting. An app makes independent accounting easier, but there’s still a learning curve for most entrepreneurs. To drum up extra business, try offering to train clients on how to use various accounting software. For example, you can offer a group class to discuss common bookkeeping or accounting concepts, or you can offer individual consultations on the most effective ways for businesses to use their accounting software.

Move to Consulting

When businesses handle their own bookkeeping and tax preparation, it’s harder for you to sell those services. Fortunately, those types of services tend to be the lowest margin for accountants. Instead of looking for clients who need these low-margin services, try steering your business toward more high-margin consultancy work, such as providing information analysis, CFO services, or controllership work for small businesses and startups.

Consider a Niche

Dive into a niche to make your services more appealing to clients. For example, if you decide to stick with tax preparation, you may want to focus on self-employed individuals or small family-run restaurants. Once you have wide experience in a niche, your clients can feel confident that you have special knowledge they don’t. Plus, a niche is narrow enough for you to learn industry-specific deductions inside and out. Alternatively, you may want to focus on providing corporate strategies to new startups or choose another niche based around consultancy. As an accountant, you have to compete not only with other professionals in your field, but with new apps and software on a regular basis. Rebranding your business and focusing on high-margin consultancy services can help, but you should also explore ideas such as offering training, providing niche services, or taking your business online to reach more clients.

References & Resources

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