Starting your own business can be an exciting, yet stressful process. If you feel that you have what it takes to be your own boss, then don’t let anything stop you from doing it. There are several great ways to get your dream business off the ground, and one young successful entrepreneur, Andy Grengs, owner of TCG Accounting has some tips on what to focus on. TCG has seen 300% growth over the last two years. Grengs' firms have a 99% rate of keeping its clients, compared to the national rate of 75%. If you follow these six steps, you will be on your way to building your own professional business.
1. Build your business around something you have already had success at
Don’t make the mistake that many first time business owners make, choose something that you have already know you can be successful with. Grengs started small, and you should too. “I started off doing bookkeeping for 11 people, who were my family and friends,” Grengs admits. But, because of he knew he could do it successfully, Grengs business took off. “It’s a 'snowball effect.'" If you become better than most at something, rapid business growth will follow.
2. Choose a location that fits you the best
Andy Grengs started his accounting firm in Duluth, because that is where he had made all his connections. He understood the need and opportunity for a small firm in Duluth and took advantage. “Being in a variety of clubs during my time at UMD opened the door to future clients. It is easier to run a business when you understand you’re surroundings, rather than taking a chance in a place that you are unfamiliar with.”
3. Spread the word
All of those connections you have made over the years will begin to pay off. Contact your friends, family, past coworkers and other acquaintances, such as classmates and club members. It was an easier transition for Grengs, as he used the networks he created to further his business. “Getting involved with Fuse Duluth and Entrepreneurship Club at UMD is one of the main reasons I am having the success this early in my business career," he says. Fuse Duluth, is an organization for any young professionals to come together with other local professionals to build relationships and share business ideas with one another. “I would recommended getting involved in Fuse Duluth, if you are interested in becoming a future business owner.” The best way to gain a new crop of clients is by having other professionals telling them how great your business is.
4. Understand your Competition
When I asked Andy Grengs what separates TCG Accounting from its largest corporate competitor in Duluth, H&R Block, he had a few things to say. “We are the only accounting firm in Duluth who actively teachers our clients about the taxation system. We also hold tax seminars, something that other firms stray away from, and it’s all free.” No matter the business, people always want to understand where their money is going and why. “Sit down and explain what you are doing for them,” Grengs says. Many accountants will just take whatever prepared book that the clients brings and go from there. Each member of TCG goes through those books and make sure the numbers are correct. There is no rush to move on to the next person, if each client is individualized, then they will want to return in the future. Do you have ideas that will help separate you from others?
5. Marketing your brand
This could be as simple as using Twitter or Facebook to promote your business, but those aren’t nearly enough when just starting up. Grengs suggests that you entrench yourself in the community that you work in. Grengs is the Duluth and Hermantown Chamber Ambassador, Arrowhead Building Association, and Supervisory Community of Northern Credit Union. It doesn’t stop there, to have a business grow, you need to take part in “after hours” activities. An accounting example would be building strong relationships with bankers in the community. “We send them business, and they send us business,” Grengs explains. If you build enough relationships, recommendations will follow. Many referrals come from other companies marketing your brand for you. “You should go see Andy, he is great at educating those who have questions about accounting, some charge for these questions, but TCG will answer questions that you have free of charge.” Answering questions for your clients is a key component when marketing your brand.
6. Communication Skills
You need to be able to have a conversation with just about anyone. “Many accounts struggle to articulate well with people, because they are primarily number and analytically focused. A lack of communication with customers will doom any business, if you struggle with communication in large groups or just one on one, it is important to get past that if you are to have success operating a business. Building a business is never an easy task. Grengs fields 40-50 phone calls a day, while responding to 100 or more emails on average during tax season. What is the most difficult thing to deal with while running your own business? "Lack of sleep is the hardest hill to climb. Even during the off-season, it’s a different kind of busy.” But, just so you know, Grengs is happy with the decisions he has made. “I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”