In the first year Kevin Simpson started his company, CPA Web Books, LLC, he brought in ,000 in business. That was 2006. Today, in 2014, he expects to reach 0,000. His secret to year-after-year growth? Learning some hard lessons about the best ways to grow his business.
Lesson #1? Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Similar to many other firms, he works with small businesses, but a few years ago, he took on one small business client that consumed too much of his time.
At first, everything was great.
“The company brought in a half million dollars in its first six months, million in the second year, .5 million in 2013 and it is on track to bring in million in business in 2014,” he says. “We basically served as the accounting department for the company and we even moved into a space that was part of the building they were in. They were a dream client in some respects.”
However, as the company’s income grew, so did the workload. It became a case of working too many hours for just one client. “When that happens, you stop being an entrepreneur and you stop looking for new business,” says Kevin.
He knew the time would come when the client would decide to bring its accounting work in-house. “I believed we had about a year before that would happen, but I miscalculated,” he says. “When we went in to renew the one-year contract, they told us they were making a change and we lost the account.”
Devoting so much time and attention to a single client caused problems that Kevin says he never even considered at the time. Because he spent so much time focused on that one client, he lost sight of other aspects of the business. One of the things he wasn’t paying close attention to was his company website, which he is now in the process of being updated.
“We had it built by a professional in 2006, but it hadn’t been touched in eight years and I did not notice the problems. In terms of client communication, for example, I lost that tool on the site. In 2006, if someone Googled ‘online bookkeeping,’ we would be in the top three, but that was no longer the case.”
Other fallout from devoting most of his time to a single client was losing another client.
“We missed some really obvious clues,” he says. “Even though we communicated with them every month, it was about the same stuff. We were never in any kind of sales mode with them, so a sales pitch from a competitor looked good to them. We weren’t ever in front of the client saying, ‘hey, we’re doing new things.’”
Dealing with these kinds of challenges is, of course, part of running a successful business. Today, with an updated website and renewed focus on serving small business clients, his company is on solid ground going into the future.