HOW to provide Business Advisory Services to your clients

June 6, 2018 | By Paul Latham

Are you trying to do it the “Hard Way” or the “Easy Way”?

You have taken the first step - and decided that you want to make the transformation and become a 21st Century Advisor to your high net worth, business owner clients.

However, your next step is to address questions like:

  • HOW to Add-Value?
  • HOW to provide Business Advisory Services? 

Maybe more pertinently, the question should be – are you thinking about trying and do it the hard way or the easy way?

The Hard Way to Provide Business Advisory Services

This happens when CPAs are reactive and allow their clients to dictate the agenda.

The CPA has almost no chance to succeed – certainly unless they have extensive previous business consultancy experience and probably very specific industry knowledge and experience relating to that client (this is why CPAs often – mistakenly - try to position themselves within a particular industry “niche”).

That niche sounds good - but provides the CPA with a rather limited potential market to attack (they cap their growth potential significantly) – but even worse – they may be able to react this time - help the business owner on this occasion – but what about next time – and the time after that – and the time after that?

Will the CPA be able to add value consistently - when they are “re-inventing the wheel” all the time? That’s doubtful to be honest – and it’s hard work!

Furthermore - will the CPA be able to build a long-term relationship with sufficient high net worth business owner clients – within the niche -  to make it worth the effort?

Hmmm – maybe it’s time for our CPA to put their head back in that “tax compliance sand”?

Alternatively the CPA could try something that “looks different” – they could instead try:

The Easy Way to Provide Business Advisory Services

Easy becomes possible when CPAs are proactive and offer leadership to their business owner clients – allowing the CPA to dictate the agenda – and add-value.

To help them make this happen consistently most CPAs need 2 things:

  • COACHING to provide the confidence to lead their client
  • PROCESS to scale the opportunity easily

In our recent blog about HOW to make the Transformation to 21st Century Advisor we talked about CPAs needing to change their personal mindset.

Part of that mindset change is for the CPA to recognize they need to lead their clients. Their confidence to lead stems from coaching support combined with the realization that their business owner clients ALL LOOK EXACTLY THE SAME – and as such have very predictable problems – from which it is an easy step to systemize predictable solution delivery.

Instead of chasing a specific “industry niche” (which limits their growth potential) most CPAs are already sitting on a pre-existing, untapped and limitless niche market. It’s staring them in the face.

If the CPA were to do an analysis of their business owners they would find that more than 90% of their clients “live in the same place” on the business roadmap.

At Elite Resource Team we call that place the “In-Between-Zone” and those business owners are all “Plate-Spinners”.

“In-Between-Zone” businesses have annual revenues ranging between $1m and $20m plus (the perfect clients have annual revenues from about $3m to $10m) and their highly predictable business problems include:

  • The business owner lacks direction – they are “not sure where they are going” or what they want their business to “look like”
  • The business owner is inexperienced – they have never done this before
  • The business owner has learned over a few years to “spin-plates” to manage the business.
  • The business owner has probably recognized (or needs help to recognize) that they can’t spin any more plates (or spin them any faster) – but they definitely want to grow their business – but need help to change their style of leadership
  • The business owner is trying to build a management team – but does not know how or where to start
  • The management team are good at what they “do” but never been trained to manage the team
  • The business employs great people – but the team are not all “pulling in the same direction” (see business owner lacks direction)
  • The business is growing revenue – but is probably not as efficient per dollar of revenue as when it was smaller
  • The business is always starting new initiatives – but never sees them through Never mind “we have another new initiative starting next week”!
  • The business has reached a size where it needs new skills – finance, marketing, IT etc. but the business owner has no experience of such recruitment and how to make it more likely to be a success (chances are they will fail in fact)
  • The business has a poorly defined and inconsistent value proposition and sales message – p.s. business owners are never quick to admit this one J
  • The business typically “does too much for the money” that they charge the customer (because they have poorly defined value proposition).

Obviously not every single issue above applies to every business – but most “In-Between-Zone” business owners would “nod in acknowledgment” to most of those issues. In fact – given that most CPAs run an “In-Between-Zone” business too – you are also probably recognizing the same symptoms in your business too.

Once the CPA understands that their best niche is to specialize in helping “in-Between-Zone” businesses to grow their potential is almost limitless.  Also, they can approach their existing client base with confidence – and with a properly coached message. That message ultimately says to their business owners – the “definition of insanity is for you to keep trying to grow your business - by doing the same things in the same old – “plate-spinning” - way – would you like me to show you there is a better way?

In other words the CPA can start to lead the client and control the discussion agenda (taking the client to places where the CPA can add value without the need to become a specialized industry-led business consultant).

However to do that the CPA – as well as Coaching (for mindset and confidence) - also needs a Process or System (to make life easy and to scale the opportunity).

CPAs like structure and logic – so logically we believe that any advisory process should be built around the “3 Ingredients of Business Success” – VisionPlanDesire.

That allows the CPA to build a structured and repeatable delivery framework:

  • Business DiagnosticNOW?
  • Business VisionWHERE?
    • Structure Vision Output around the 6 Key Aspects of Business Advice
      • Generates a Business Roadmap – click of a button
      • Generates a One Page Plan – click of a button
        • Allows Business Owner to allocate Accountability for action
          • Allows CPA to Hold Business Owner Accountable
  • Business PlanHOW?
    • Create Standard Plans – Where Business Owners Need Help
      • 4 Ways to Grow
      • 7 Business Wastes
      • Team Communication
      • Leadership Skills
  • Business DesireRegular Advisory Meetings
    • Typically 6 Accountability Meetings Per Annum

By creating an outline delivery framework  similar to the above – the CPA is able to easily LEAD their client through a PROCESS – where 90% of existing business clients need help – and where the CPA can confidently provide that help (and can be trained easily to do so).

The rewards are high margin, added value services – and you are creating a valuable client for life (we call it “eat now and eat later” marketing).

The result is that instead of being bogged down providing tax compliance services – the CPA can transform themselves into a 21st Century Advisor – in fact the Most Relevant Advisor to their clients. Providing Business Advisory services is easy – in fact it’s just like “painting by numbers” if you know HOW.

If you are an accountant or advisor and want to learn more about the Elite Resource Team System™ visit