Little Fish Accounting

With Gusto’s People Advisory, Little Fish Accounting Doubles its Client Base and Increases Monthly Revenue

Little Fish Accounting experienced huge revenue growth and client gains after getting People Advisory certified.

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Gusto helps Little Fish make a big splash


Added $1.5k monthly to their highest service offering

Employee Add

2x increase in the number of clients on its highest tier in 6 months


Save an average of 3 hours in onboarding onto payroll system

About Little Fish

Where: Hyattsville, MD
Industry:  Accounting
Employees: 7
Joined Gusto: January 2020

Little Fish Accounting, a CPA firm with a name that reflects exactly who it represents—the smallest clients in a sea of businesses. Small businesses typically don’t have the same financial resources or support as larger organizations, and Little Fish saw an opportunity to help this underserved group and level the playing field for other entrepreneurs. Its clients usually consist of one owner with a team of less than 10 employees. Its core business offerings focus on compliance and advisory services for agencies, small business service providers, consultants and creatives. It’s a firm that values long-term impact rather than ad-hoc services—so client relationships are truly at the heart of its operation.

A Gusto customer since January 2020, Little Fish first joined the platform to meet its payroll needs. However, as clients began asking for more people operations advice, Little Fish decided to explore Gusto’s People Advisory programs. Since getting certified as a people advisor, Little Fish has been able to confidently weave people advice into its service offerings, adding strategic value to its clients while boosting its monthly revenue.

How Gusto helped Little Fish provide maximum client impact

Intuitive HR management

Keila Hill-Trawick, founder and CEO of Little Fish Accounting, first came to Gusto because she wanted to transition from a contractor-only payment system to a full-service payroll platform that could not only support her full-time employees, but also the needs of her clients. 

“I was getting frustrated with the idea that when I was paying contractors versus employees, they lived in two separate worlds,” says Keila. “Sometimes it was hard for me to find the information that I needed after the fact. I was an auditor in a past life and a lot of the contractor payments didn’t have a good paper trail. I knew I needed a platform that could not only help me to easily track payroll, but to also allow me to easily document transactions for my employees.”

In her pursuit to find a payroll and HR management provider, she landed on Gusto. On average, Gusto saves Little Fish about 3 hours of work in onboarding clients to the payroll system and 15-20 minutes per employee for each client with every payroll run.

“Gusto came highly recommended for small businesses so I decided to try it out for my firm and I like it a lot! I don’t run into many issues, but if I do have a problem, the customer service has been great,” notes Keila. “We had started recommending Gusto to our highest tier of clients because even though we’re their primary contact to take care of most things, if they need someone to call and ask questions, we know that Gusto will take good care of them. Now we recommend it to our clients at all levels of service.”

Incorporating People Advisory yields big gains in revenue

When Little Fish first got started, it originally only offered two services: The Tax Prep Suite and The Virtual CEO. The Tax Prep Suite provided support for annual and quarterly tax prep while The Virtual CFO provided full service support. By incorporating People Advisory, Little Fish has been able to expand its number of service offerings from two to four.

Now in addition to tax services and full service accounting, Little Fish offers two middle tiered services: Elevated Bookkeeping and The Financial Manager. These additions expanded the firm’s ability to provide advisory support for mid-level tiered clients that wasn’t previously available outside of the Virtual CFO. Not only have these additional services created additional revenue streams for Little Fish, but they’ve also enabled them to support their clients as they grow. Whether a solopreneur or a business geared for expansion, Little Fish now has the capabilities to serve any business regardless of the stage they’re in.

“It’s nice to have these tiers to kind of carry people through and grow with them. As their teams expand and get more complex, we can offer greater value to their teams with each higher tier,”says Keila. “Adding advisory services has also allowed us to increase our highest service by more than $1,000 per month. Incorporating People Advisory messaging has led to us doubling our monthly client base at the highest tier in 6 months.”

Advisory services have a big impact on small clients

With the onset of the pandemic, a tight labor market and now a possible recession, people operations advice has never been more needed. Little Fish has had clients ask them tons of people-related questions across an array of topics, but what clients want the most is advice on hiring and expenses. Completing Gusto’s People Advisory certification has not only prepared Little Fish’s accountants on how to answer these questions, but it also ensures that they’re asking the right questions for maximum strategic impact.

“Because the teams we work with are so small, hiring can be a rather simple process. We have clients say, ‘We needed three people, so we hired three people.’ But recently, we’ve been getting more questions like, ‘I would like to hire a person. Can I afford it?’ and People Advisory has made us look at those questions differently,” states Keila. “It’s not really whether you can afford it. It’s more about, were you hiring for the thing that you need to be hiring for? And then from an affordability standpoint, having those conversations about the additional expense of a full time employee versus a contractor.”

When advising clients, Keila believes it is important to have more strategic conversations on a business’ growth and direction. For instance, aside from providing guidance on the tactical execution of hiring, such as the basics of onboarding and compliance, Little Fish also helps clients strategize on competing in a tight labor market.

“This is where our value lies. We’re asking the questions that our clients may not be thinking to ask. We encourage our clients to think about how they can be more competitive to attract the best talent, but also to think beyond just salary offerings. How can you create a more intentional approach to hiring? ” says Keila, adding that she encourages clients to think creatively about paid time off and benefits, as well as talk about their company culture during interviews.

Real-time data for KPI tracking

As Little Fish’s clients continue seeking people advice, Keila is excited to use more of Gusto’s analytics tools to get full visibility into their clients’ numbers and help them achieve their financial goals. By combining their People Advisory training with Gusto’s reporting, she’s confident her team will be able make customized, data-backed recommendations to add even more value in the future.

“Being able to see ROI on employees or department information is something we haven’t been able to do before,” says Keila. “And being able to use the time tracking in a way that actually gives us data is something I’m really excited to dig more into … to actually prepare a picture for my clients that goes beyond the data points themselves for maximum impact.”

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