When I started my virtual CPA firm to serve creative businesses seven years ago, I never imagined it would turn into the operation it is today. It’s sustainable enough that both my husband and I have gone all in, and we’re confident it will be able to support our growing family. 

I’ve been able to hire three other employees full-time, And we’re continuing to grow at record speed—to the point where we have a waitlist of over 200 clients. 

I’m humbled by the success we’ve achieved while supporting creative doers around the country, and wish I could go back to when I was starting out to let myself know this is where we’d be. Because back then, I was incredibly worried about whether I’d be able to hack it—like maybe you are right now. 

Maybe you’re wondering how you could possibly get enough clients to support yourself financially, let alone other people. Maybe you’re not even sure how you can get digital clients to find you, let alone trust you with their tax info when they’ve never met you face-to-face. 

Or maybe you just need a little boost from your future-successful-self letting you know that it is possible to build the business you’re imagining.

Think of me as that voice. For starters, I have 100% confidence that you can do it. Here are some of the things that helped me along the way that I hope can help you, too.

Choose your niche and hold onto it for dear life 

I feel like this is advice that everybody gives, but it bears repeating here because not enough people follow it! Trust me, I get why. Especially in the early days of growing a business, you’re often happy to take any clients you can get. 

The idea of narrowing your field and saying no to clients who don’t fit your focus is scary. But finding a niche and owning it is the foundation of finding clients in droves. And the best part is, they won’t just be any clients—they’ll be exactly the clients you want.

Early on, I knew I wanted to work with creatives. Having dabbled in creative hobbies my whole life, I knew it was something I wanted to integrate into my work, even though I didn’t plan to go down a fully creative path myself. 

So I dedicated myself to being The Accountant for Creatives—so much so that I’ve trademarked the phrase! Having this honed-in audience means all my work can serve their specific needs, and all my marketing can target them. 

It also means I have to say “no” sometimes, even when it’s hard. 

We’ve had potential clients tell us that they’ll pay more than what we’re asking to be a client or send us gifts. But if they’re not our ideal clientele or are not at the top of the waitlist, our commitment to our process does not waver. 

This allows us to deliver more focused services to our target audience—leading them to refer their creative colleagues and helping us grow even more. 

Use content to catch ‘em and keep ‘em around

Hopefully, you know the value of content marketing by now. But content marketing paired with a niche audience? That’s a growth powerhouse. 

That’s because you’re able to get to know your ideal client absurdly well, and then tailor every piece of marketing to them. 

In SEO marketing terms, you’re able to target long-tail keywords to find your ideal client exactly when they’re searching for you. In human terms, you’re ready to speak to potential clients  directly and answer their questions so they can experience firsthand precisely how you can help them. 

Sure, I could write generic articles about tax tips, but I know my clients are trying to figure out whether the IRS considers their creative work a business or a hobby, and if they should be asking more for what they do. Plus, I’m able to have some personality on my social media because I know it will resonate with my creative clients. 

But the use of content doesn’t stop at marketing. We use it for nurturing, too. Once clients are on the waitlist, we continue to nurture the leads with regular educational content to keep them engaged until their spot becomes available. 

This way, even if it takes a year before we’re able to bring them on as a client, they still love us and want to work with us as much as they did on day one. 

Give them the best process you possibly can

Finally, once you’ve found a client, you want to not only keep them around but keep them referring other people they know. You do this by giving them the best darned experience you possibly can. 

For us, that starts with transparent pricing. We keep a simple cost calculator on our site because we know if we make people guess or put in extra work to figure out if they can afford us, we’re likely to lose a lot of them. 

Then, once someone becomes a client, we make sure every part of the process is seamless for them—so seamless they’ll want to tell their friends about it. 

We’ve put time into streamlining and simplifying the onboarding process, so none of our clients have to work too hard for us to serve them. For example: 

  • We set strict limits on the number of new clients we accept each year. This sometimes means sacrificing higher profits and breaking a few hearts along the way, but those limits prevent our team from being spread too thin and allow us to deliver the service we know our clients deserve. 
  • We treat each client with respect and make sure the relationship doesn’t stop after tax season. We’re always willing to answer a quick question over email or help them better understand a small business finance challenge. 
  • And we also always ask clients for their feedback. A common theme we hear is that we gave them the most stress-free tax season they’ve ever had. 

That’s precisely the kind of testimonial we want them telling their creative colleagues. That’s why we’re not afraid to ask for their referral; it leads to continued growth for our business.  

Growing a thriving digital CPA business doesn’t have to be rocket science. Just choose your target audience and serve them well—you’ll be amazed by the success this will bring you in time!

Amy Northard Amy is the Accountant for Creatives®. She is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) who specializes in working with creative small business owners to make taxes and bookkeeping less stressful. In addition to preparing tax returns and bookkeeping for clients all over the U.S., Amy enjoys teaching small business financial basics through her online course Be Your Own CFO.
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