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Sorcerer’s Accountant will fit the needs of transitional small businesses, dealing with the growing pains of leaving an owner-operator model to hiring employees and expanding. These clients will see that Sorcerer’s Accountant is competitively priced, both compared with the market and with the substitute option of hiring their own bookkeepers. Clients will see that Sorcerer’s Accountant is extremely flexible and scalable in a way that in-house bookkeepers cannot be. To move forward with this new business line, Sorcerer’s Accountant will make the bookkeeping services the core of its business and a source of leads for its additional accounting services, rather than the other way around.
Over time, as this transition happens, the marketing plan will be revisited to see how these clients can be better used as a source for referrals and more business.
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Sorcerer’s Accountant’s goals include Personal, Marketing, Business, and Client Satisfaction goals.
1. Personal – To reduce the time spent on the business by Max Greenwood to a more sustainable level over a few years and to achieve professional recognition 2. Marketing – Generation of large numbers of leads and press mentions 3. Business – Expand sales significantly over the next three years 4. Client Satisfaction – To achieve a high level of very satisfied clients Purpose
Sorcerer’s Accountant seeks to provide a full suite of tax and management accounting services for small businesses in Chicago, Illinois, allowing business owners to not only save money over in-house accounting and ensure their compliance with tax laws, but to make valuable management decisions from their numbers.
When clients come to Sorcerer’s Accountant, the frustration of dealing with in-house bookkeepers and low-quality providers will recede. Clients will be given the time to have all of their questions answered and valuable accounting and systems advice will be given even in the initial meetings. The client will quickly understand that Sorcerer’s Accountant will scale their services to meet the client’s needs and can add to those services as the client’s needs change. They will understand that they are not entering into an onerous contract and that the cost of getting started is low. The client will be delighted the first time they receive a thank you card and small gift when they’ve made their budgeted numbers for the quarter. At this point it will truly sink in that Sorcerer’s Accountant has their bookkeeping and accounting needs covered and that they can put away any worry that this area will be a weak link in their business.
Weekly measurements of key metrics will be averaged for each month and entered in the Gap Dashboard. Personal goals will be tracked by Max Greenwood directly to make sure he is moving towards both professional recognition and a sustainable work/life balance. Marketing goals will be tracked by the CRM system and business goals will be tracked by QuickBooks. Client satisfaction numbers will be derived from the survey provider’s database. Whether numbers are met or not, the news will be shared on a monthly basis with the entire staff, with congratulations and discussion as to what is going right as well as a look at what is going wrong and how it can be rectified. These reports will be shared in full with the bookkeeping program manager and partially with the bookkeepers.
The ideal customer for Sorcerer’s Accountant is an owner of a very small business. Having launched within the last few years, the customer has just hired his first employee. The bookkeeping work (accounts payable and receivable, payroll, bank reconciliations, tax preparation) that the owner did for the first few years is taking more and more time and is holding him back from working on sales, marketing, and strategy for the business. The new employee has been hired to handle more of the technical work of the business, not to do bookkeeping. However, when considering the type of bookkeeping help he can afford, the customer realizes that a ten-hour-a-week employee would most likely be a student or low-skills worker who would require a great deal of training.
The customer is put off by the idea of spending a great deal of time training such an individual, who may leave within a year (or even less) due to school schedule changes or finding a full-time job. He realizes that keeping the books correctly is important work, but because he understands his own value to the business, his knows his time is better spent elsewhere. He might then begin to search for professional bookkeeping options that can offer just a low-level of support by doing his own research and asking other business owners he knows.
The small business accounting market consists of virtually every small business in the United States. As businesses grow larger than one person sole proprietorships, they generally require expert help with at least their tax preparation, and often with additional bookkeeping and accounting services. Even many non-employer sole proprietorships will use accounting help at some point. While some small businesses hire bookkeepers or CFOs directly, many successfully outsource these types of services.
The market for Sorcerer’s Accountant is small businesses in the city limits of Chicago. This will represent approximately 85,000 businesses in 2010. This market can be subdivided into three groups: Non-employer firms: Without employees, these firms do not have many of the concerns of larger businesses. However, the owners must be vigilant to protect their own tax liability and sort out how their personal and business tax returns intersect. These firms are generally buyers of QuickBooks services and tax preparation services. As they grow, this group becomes ripe for outsourced bookkeeping services before they can hire a full-time in-house bookkeeper. Very small businesses: Defined for our purposes as businesses with 2-10 employees.
Made up of businesses that are designed to stay small and those which are growing through a phase, these businesses require payroll services, bookkeeping, and tax preparation. They are concerned about losing control, but can generally be convinced of using outsourced accounting and bookkeeping with cost analysis. With the stakes higher, these businesses can make greater use of management accounting services, especially as most cannot afford a dedicated CFO. Many do not need a full-time bookkeeper, but can made due with part-time help, which limits their hiring options. Other small businesses: Defined for our purposes as businesses with 11 to 99 employees. Many of these businesses will have some in-house financial management and bookkeeping help. However, they may be able to save money by outsourcing these services as they are not generally core to what the business seeks to do. These businesses may be comfortable with their situation as a cash producer for their owners or intent on growing or positioning themselves for sale.
Sorcerer’s Accountant offers the flexibility and low rates of an in-house bookkeeping employee, while providing all of the training, oversight, and deep knowledge of a Certified Public Accountant.
Sorcerer’s Accountant will achieve a competitive edge among Chicago bookkeeping services due to its combination of CPA oversight with lower-level, inexpensive labor to solve the specific problems of small business owners. Clients will receive the advantage of having a CPA review their books and propose additional advice when appropriate, while not paying much more than they would to hire their own part-time bookkeeper. This is not an inimitable competitive edge, but the market in Chicago is significantly large enough to allow for the success of Sorcerer’s Accountant with this strategy. Large firms ignore the small business market because they are better positioned to serve larger businesses. They are unlikely to imitate this strategy as they will find it difficult to convince small businesses that they can offer services which are affordable to them.
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