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5 simple steps to finding your niche and building your client portfolio

Guest blog by Heather Townsend, co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life‘ and author of ‘FT Guide To Business Networking‘, and guest blogger for Big4.com.

Your partners are very unlikely to hand you your first clients on a plate. After all, they (your partners) probably have their drawings and share of the firm’s profits directly linked to the size of the client portfolio. This means that you can not ‘hang onto their coat-tails’ and aim to be a replica of them. You will need your own technical specialism and niche, to be able to attract referrals to you rather than your partners.

In this blog post I will take you through the five steps you need to do to find your niche.

When you establish a niche of your own, it allows you to specialise and become the Go-To-Expert on your chosen topic.

“That’s all very well” you may be thinking, “but how on earth do I work out what my niche should be?”

The hard part of finding a niche is identifying and choosing one where you are confident that there is enough of a market that will be motivated to buy your services, and make a good living from it. Here are a couple of poorly chosen niches or “non-niches”

Accountant specialising in Owner Managed Businesses (OMBs). This is what most mid-tier and small firms of accountants specialise in.  This could become…..

Accountant specialising in working with owner managed financial services businesses

Management ConsultantThere are a huge amount of management consultant. What makes you different from all the others? This could become…..

Management Consultant specialising in working with fast-growing technology companies

Can you see the difference? You may find our FREE guide to choosing and capitalising in your niche useful (email required).

To find a niche that will work for you, there are five simple steps to follow.

1. Search the internet to find professionals with a similar skill-set to you. Write down all the sector specialisms and ‘niches’ that you find.

2. Write a list of at least ten possible niches that you could adopt.

3. Assess each one against some key criteria, for example:

  • Does working within this niche excite you?
  • Is there a big enough marketplace for you to build a profitable client portfolio?
  • Do you already have credibility working with this particular audience?
  • Do you have existing good relationships with people well connected to this marketplace?
  • Does your firm want to develop its client base within this niche?
  • Do you like, and can relate, to the people who work within this niche?
  • Is the demand for your services from this niche growing?
  • Do existing advisors currently poorly serve this niche?
  • Any niche which gets at least five ticks is potentially a good fit for you.

4. Take your top five ranked potential niches. Now apply the ‘is there enough of a marketplace motivated to buy my service and products’ test? The ones that pass with flying colours need to be prioritised

5. With your top three ranked potential niches, which one excites you the most? This is likely to be the best niche for you to adopt.

If you can’t decide between some of the potential niches you have identified then think about in which of your niches you have:

  • the most credibility;
  • the most engaged and largest network;
  • The most potential for strategic alliances already available to you;
  • the most number of current or ex-clients; and
  • the most amount of excitement when you think about specialising in this area.

You may find our FREE choosing your niche worksheet helpful (email required).

Remember that adopting a niche helps you acquire new clients. Many accountants and consultants worry that adopting a niche will cause them to lose their existing clients who don’t sit in this niche. Regardless of the niche you adopt, you will only keep these clients if you deliver a great service to them. 

How did you decide on your niche?

Download our free six page guide, from our career kitbag, containing 13 tips to help you accelerate your career at a Big 4 firm

Author Credit

Heather Townsend helps professionals become the Go-To-Expert. She is the author of the  award winning and best-selling book on business networking, the ‘FT Guide To Business Networking’ and the co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life’. Over the last decade she has worked with over 300 partners; coached, trained and mentored over 1000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices.

Heather blogs regularly at How to make partner and still have a life

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