Is There Really a Shortage of Bookkeepers?
There seems to be a paradox among freelance bookkeepers.
The #1 question I hear over and over again is, “How do I find new clients?”
Yet, in my own experience as a freelance bookkeeper (and QuickBooks® consultant) I find that there is actually a big shortage of bookkeepers!
Why do I think so?.
I routinely attract more new client inquiries than I can handle. In fact, if I wanted to grow a team of bookkeepers and consultants, that would be very do-able. However, it's not my chosen business model.
So what do I do when new prospective clients call, but I am at capacity and unable to take them on? (Which, quite honestly, is most of the time!)
I refer them to colleagues who are a good fit for the clients' particular needs. But not having enough colleagues to refer “overflow” clients to is becoming a problem!
In fact, one of my “goals” when attending the Scaling New Heights conference a few weeks ago was to connect with colleagues to whom I can refer suitable clients. Since I work on a virtual basis, my referral partners need to be able to work with their clients on a remote basis as well.
Most bookkeepers and QuickBooks consultants said they were working via the Internet with at least some clients, but I only met a few colleagues who were “suitable” referral partners. While all to whom I spoke are likely capable bookkeepers, there was a noticeable “issue” that makes me reluctant to refer clients their way…
I'll come back to this “issue” in a minute.
Over the years, whenever I meet a CPA, I routinely ask if s/he feels that finding good bookkeepers to work with is a challenge. Without exception, they agree that good bookkeepers are hard to find, AND some have mentioned that the bookkeepers they work with are already booked to capacity.
Most recently, out of the blue, I started receiving emails from the website MiNeeds.com. They were sending information about bookkeeping requests that were coming into their site from small businesses looking for help.
Apparently, they did not have enough accountants and bookkeepers in their database to whom they could refer these requests. So they were prospecting for more bookkeepers and accountants!
It appears the problem of supply and demand, at least in part, is connecting small business owners who are looking for bookkeepers with the bookkeepers that can help them. This is also known as marketing. 😉
MiNeeds makes their money by selling leads to professionals, along with providing their “members” with other ways to get the word out about their services.
I signed up for a free account so that I could get a feel for just how many small businesses were going to the site looking for help with their bookkeeping. The results are eye-opening.
In just 30 days I've received 44 service request emails!
Not all of them were appropriate for the services I offer (had I chosen to sign up and pay for some of these leads), but some of them looked very tempting (if I were looking for more clients). Many of them were QuickBooks specific. Some were for one-time projects. Others for month-to-month work.
My conclusion regarding the Bookkeeper Shortage Paradox?
There are, in fact, not enough bookkeepers who know how to CONNECT with the business owners who need them.
The vast majority of freelance bookkeepers I've spoken to do not know how to effectively market their services to attract the right kind of clients AND they do not actually know WHO their best clients are (so they don't know how to find them).
It really comes down to learning how to run a business. A BIG part of every successful business is knowing WHO your specific clients are and how to marketing to them. When freelance bookkeepers don't know who their clients are, that makes it difficult for referral partners (like me) as well. We don't know who we should refer to these colleagues as qualified prospective clients!
WHO do you look for when you are trying to find new clients, and HOW do your reach them?
Let's compare notes on what's working well, and what's not! Please share your experiences and comment below.
By the way, these issues of learning how to run a freelance bookkeeping business AND market your skills are exactly why I've started the The Freelance Bookkeeper Premium monthly training program.
If you've been struggling with these issues, I think you'll find the first two action-based trainings helpful (available now) Click here to learn more.