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25 firm growth opportunities for 2020 and beyond

By August J. Aquila, Ph.D.

August 11, 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic changing everything we do and how we do it, I thought it would be appropriate to share with you 25 growth ideas that are always timely no matter what the situation. You don’t have to employ all of them at once. Just take two or three now and make them part of your firm’s DNA.
  1. Start with current clients. Look at clients who are only using one of your services. For example, a high-income individual tax return client who is not using your wealth management services or an audit client that is not using any of your consulting services. A client relationship services call is certainly due in these cases.
  2. Identify those clients that pay you the most and determine the net profit for each of these clients. These are the clients you want to spend the most time with. Remember, not all clients contribute the same to your gross margin.
  3. Never rest on your laurels. Always look for ways to make the firm and its people better, to improve client service and to ultimately increase profits.
  4. Hold partners and managers more accountable for cross-serving clients. Make this a measurable goal in their annual compensation allocation.
  5. Now more than ever, use virtual meetings to check in with clients about their needs and goals. Encourage your partners and managers to get a copy of the client's current business or strategic plan.
  6. Maintain a pipeline report of pending new business by partner, manager and focus on the report at your monthly partner and manager meeting.
  7. Learn how effectively to communicate and hold virtual client calls.
  8. Encourage your partners and staff to learn a new skill that they can help clients further their goals.
  9. Start building your brand. Branding is a conceptual way to show what is special about your firm. What do you want to be known for?
  10. Define what your ideal client looks like in terms of revenue, industry, services needed, etc. Then build your prospect list accordingly. Remember, you can’t be all things to all people!
  11. Make sure your partners and managers are knowledgeable about your services and products so they can discuss them and their benefits.
  12. Fire clients that keep you busy but don’t make you any money. All firms have them!
  13. Use a client relationship management (CRM) program to track prospects and additional business from existing clients.
  14. Get active on social media. Start a blog to keep clients and prospects up to date on technical issues, as well as personal thoughts on the current economy and pandemic.
  15. Become more visible in your local market by participating in associations and other business organizations where your ideal clients belong to.
  16. Develop your staff. Learning really takes place where the work is done. It's the best way for staff to learn.
  17. Specialize. Even small firms can specialize. Develop a niche or industry specialty. Specialist can charge more because there is less competition.
  18. Reexamine your pricing model. More and more firms have moved away from the traditional hourly fee approach, especially for tax and monthly accounting work. Offer your clients different tiers of services with each tier being more expensive.
  19. Highlight the importance of new business. It’s the lifeblood of every business.
  20. Consider a merger. Now is a great time with so many baby boomers retiring. Firms from $100,000 to $3 million often come on the market.
  21. Get out of the office. You can't develop new business unless you meet people.
  22. Have two partners or a partner and a staff member go on joint sales calls whenever possible.
  23. Embrace technology! Don’t let your clients get ahead of you, especially during these trying times.
  24. Focus on understanding your clients' real needs. Develop a list of questions that will help you identify client concerns. The first question should be, “What keeps your up at night?” Then, figure out how to satisfy them.
  25. Sharpen your firm’s vision so you don’t waste time chasing false leads.
August Aquila is an internationally known speaker, consultant and writer. He is the CEO of AQUILA Global Advisors. He is also the co-author of "Compensation as a Strategic Asset" and "Client at the Core." August lives in Minnetonka, MN. You may reach him at or 1-952-930-1295. See for more information.