Categories
Interviews

Building A $5k/month Accounting Agency For Startups and Small Businesses

Learn how Sara started her own productized accounting business after quitting the corporate lifestyle.

1. Hello! Who are you and what is your business?

Hi! My name is Sara Wu, and I’m the Founder of Accountrepreneur (A4E).

My journey with Accountrepreneur began when I attended and graduated from Babson College, a school known for entrepreneurship. I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur and one day own my own business, so everything I did was leading to that eventual path.

After working for ten years in the public accounting industry with firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and BDO, I realized that corporate life just wasn’t a fit for me anymore. With my husband, we both decided to quit our jobs and take an opportunity to travel the world. We ended up backpacking throughout Southeast Asia for months, and it was such an incredible experience. Here’s us below in Indonesia:

After returning home from our trip, I had a deep reflection on whether I wanted to go back to the full time corporate grind or try something different. I asked myself, “Would I regret this opportunity of running my own business?” That was enough for me to realize that I needed to take this chance now.

In terms of what business to start, I felt it was natural to start with a bookkeeping and tax services business. I had had a few customers already while working full time, and I knew the business model very well because of my corporate experiences.

Being in this particular industry for so long, I realized small businesses and startups didn’t have convenient ways to have the essential accounting services. Typically, owners have one bookkeeping service, a separate tax accountant, and maybe another financial advisory (e.g. CFO) service. All of this just adds up to unnecessary added expenses and headaches.

With Accountrepreneur, we packaged our services to remove these pain points. Currently, we offer three packages to help startups and business owners with their bookkeeping, tax returns and financial management:

  • Starter packages start at $299/mo and covers bookkeeping and tax returns for solo founders just starting out their businesses
  • Essentials packages start at $499/mo and covers all the essential accounting and tax compliance services for a small business
  • Premium packages start at $999/mo and covers all your bases such as bookkeeping, tax returns, payroll, as well as providing budgeting and analysis to help businesses grow.
  • We also offer individualized services for businesses looking for one-off services such as tax returns.

Today, our MRR is right around $5k/mo and has doubled from when we started about a year ago. We’re looking to scale further this year and are now focusing more of our efforts into sales and marketing where previously we managed mostly via word of mouth.

Currently, our team consists of myself as Founder and President, my husband as our Head of Operations, and a handful of contractors that support our service operations.

2. How do you attract and retain your customers?

Our first customers came via word of mouth. Our next customers then came through referrals who found our services invaluable to their business. Because of our focus on providing tremendous value and support to our customers (NPS is one of our core metrics), this has helped us to grow our customer base and upsell our existing customers to packages if they’re on individual services currently.

In terms of marketing, admittedly we haven’t done much besides word of mouth and our recent referral program. But with some big goals set for 2020, we’ll be pushing new projects to help get our name out and help more small business owners such as SEO, blog content and more.

Regarding customer retention, our customer retention rate is very high.  One thing that sets us apart from other businesses is that we’re licensed CPAs and can provide practical advice and tax-saving strategies for businesses.

When your bookkeeper and your tax accountant are not the same person, this can cause painful disconnects. But with our packages, we’re able to take care of both the books and the taxes. This means we can advise our customers on tax savings strategies throughout the year, watch out for any abnormalities and opportunities as they arise and more.  

3. What were your challenges and obstacles of growing your business?

One of our biggest challenges was the lack of a niche. In the beginning, our goals were to land as many customers as possible regardless of fit, industry, and so on.

This was a mistake as we would have calls with prospects, be excited to partner with them, and only to realize they would either a) go cold on us, b) were stuck on the fence or c) request large pricing discounts. They didn’t value our services.

Today, we focus specifically in the services niche and with the growing productized services space, this has been a perfect fit for what we offer. 

We do still sometimes come across a customer that isn’t a great fit for our services, but we’re always happy to refer them to another business that fits their needs.

4. What has been helpful to help you to grow your business?

Being able to step back, breathe and taking one day to completely wind down has been invaluable. As new parents juggling a growing business, it can get very stressful very quickly. But being able to spend one or two days per week where we focus only on our family helps remind ourselves why we’re doing all of this in the first place.

I’ve also found attending local meetups, joining relevant facebook groups, and attending webinars to be extremely beneficial as well. I am always looking to learn new things and seeing how others have tackled similar challenges. It reminds me we’re not alone on this journey.

5. What is your advice for those are starting productized services?

My advice is to write down your processes and goals.

One of my favorite books is “Built to Sell”, and it helped us to internalize what our processes are. By having processes in place, we’re able to move quicker when sales prospecting, onboarding customers, sending invoices and much more. We have a centralized location for our processes that we can direct our team to when they have questions.

The other piece to this is goals. It can get tough at times, but our goals allow us to stay positive and motivated. Similar to our processes, we have our goals centralized and we review these along with our KPI’s on a frequent basis.

6. What are your plans for the future?

We’re ambitious for 2020 and the future.

At Accountrepreneur, our goals are to double in size this year, scale up operations and make a big push towards our sales and marketing efforts.

We’re also looking to partner with other businesses as sometimes our customers are searching for services such as graphic design, SEO and such. By having partnerships, we’ll be able to provide even more value to our customers.

7. Where can we learn more about you?

Thank you for reading our story! It means so much to us, and we’re always looking to help and support other businesses where we can.

Feel free to visit us at MeetA4E.com to learn more about our accounting services, packages and any other questions you might have.

You can also find us at Twitter @MeetA4E, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Finally, you can reach me at sara@meeta4e.com. I’m always looking to meet new people, so feel free to reach out and say hi 🙂.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *