(Last Updated On: 1st July 2011)

When a business evolves from a concept, to start up, to established, you adjust and develop your offering and home in on your target market.  I’ve learnt a few surprising things, which I thought I’d share with you.

I’ve seen over the last year and a half of trading, that many people have preconceptions about what an Accountant does, and often these are wide of the mark.  I think this is the same with many businesses.  For example, I sat between a PR lady and a Marketing lady at a Chamber of Commerce event this morning.  To start with I didn’t really understand the difference in what they did, and after they kindly explained it to me, they said they get asked that question all the time.

Even if their view of what an Accountant does is correct, they may have a low expectation of what it feels like to work with an Accountant.  I’ve heard many horror stories; one client told me that he was afraid of his previous Accountant!

Lesson 1: Make it very clear to potential clients what I do and, importantly, what it would feel like to work with me.

I’ve also been discussing with a few other ‘Green’ businesses about the use of our ‘Green’ status in marketing.  More than one has said that they’ve started to drop any mention of the ‘Green’ side of their business.  And the reason: people don’t perceive you can be an expert in your field if you are also ‘Green’.  I’m sure this is not true for everyone, but I’ve heard this a few times.  I even had a Business Link Advisor strongly encourage me not to go down the ‘Green’ route, as it would turn off more leads than it turned on.  I had better stop writing this blog then!!

On a more serious note, this is a concern for many businesses.  I feel it is important to not just be known as Green, but to be recognised for the service I provide.

Lesson 2: Start by talking about my expertise and the benefits of working with me, and then talk about the environmentally conscious backbone to my business.

I’ve come to the conclusion this is a sensible approach, however, I need to make sure there’s a balance.  One of the aims of my business is to help inspire others to run their businesses to have a positive impact on the environment and community in which we operate.  If businesses that are running in an environmentally conscious way stop talking about what they’re doing we
won’t help others do the same.  And from a selfish point of view, I want others to talk about it, so I can learn from them, and also find myself good suppliers and partners!

So I will be continuing to talk about the benefits and challenges to being ‘Green’.

Watch out over the coming months, as I put into practice the lessons above, updating my website and producing my first brochure.  At first I felt I didn’t need a paper brochure, and saw it as an unnecessary use of trees.  But I’ve seen the value of having something tangible people can take away. And to make myself feel better, it’ll be printed on 100% recycled FSC paper.  Just waiting for the printer quotes to come back now….

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