Advisory Services Niche Market
Advisory Services Niche Market

Increase your advisory practice by developing your niche

Read the Article

As the old saying goes: “Do what you love, and the money will follow.” 

Josh Lance, founder and managing director of Chicago-based Lance CPA Group, has taken that to a new level. Josh’s 19-person firm provides accounting and advisory services primarily to craft breweries and digital agencies. While those two industries appear to have little in common, they hold special affection for Josh and his team.

After stints in public accounting and family office management, Josh realized he didn’t want to be a road warrior or a slave to billable hours. One day, he asked himself, “What if I could build a CPA practice that focuses only on the industries I’m passionate about—and run it exactly the way I’d want to run a firm?”

Eight years after Josh had that heart-to-heart conversation with himself, he hasn’t looked back.

While most large firms develop industry specializations, smaller firms tend to serve a wide range of clients that come to them via referrals, primarily from their immediate geographic area. Lance CPA Group is among the new breed of small, nimble firms that serve just one or two niche industries—and they attract a national, and even international, client base.

The key to making the virtual model work is having great talent across the country, a strong culture, flexible work schedules, and best-in-breed cloud-based technology.

Emphasis on industry niches

When deciding which industries to focus on during his firm’s early days, Josh knew craft brewery industry was a natural fit. Like me, Josh is a longtime home brewer and craft beer enthusiast with many friends who share his passion. One friend, a very serious home brewer at the time, asked for Josh’s help starting a brewery. That assignment gave Josh specialized expertise and deep industry knowledge that he was able to leverage into advising many other craft brewers. He added digital agencies to his client roster after to getting to know many of those firms when he vetted them to work on the launch of Lance CPA Group.

Another reason Josh is drawn to craft brewers and digital agencies is because he loves working with creative people who are passionate about what they do. He believes that energy rubs off on him and his team, which makes them more innovative and productive.

My story

Like Josh, I was a well-rounded generalist when I started my career in public accounting. But when I co-founded Tri-Merit about 15 years ago, I knew we had to focus on a few specific areas of the tax code, specifically R&D tax credits, to win business. I didn’t realize at the time how much more fun being a specialist was. By concentrating on just one or two industries, you can dig deeper into that industry and become the go-to expert for companies in that space. I only wish we had realized that sooner.

By showing clients you understand the trends within their industry, as well as their unique challenges and opportunities, you become significantly more referable.

“Lots of breweries come to us and say, ‘Hey, I know you work with breweries, I’ve heard you speak at craft brewing conferences, or followed your blog or social media posts. I’d love to have you come and talk and see if we can work together,’” Josh told me on a recent podcast we did together.

You can see how the multiplier effect starts to build.

Key takeaways

  • If your passion is also your niche, your excitement comes through every time you interact with your clients.
  • Concentrating on just one or two industries allows you to dig deeper into that market and become the go-to advisor.
  • By showing clients you understand the trends within their industry as well as their unique challenges and opportunities, you become significantly more referable.

For more information about combining your life passions with your work, read “Building A Culture Around What Happens Outside the Office.” If you’re ever in Chicago reach out any time. Josh and I will be happy to buy you a round.

Editor’s note: Josh Lance is a frequent contributor to the Intuit® Tax Pro Center. Check out his articles for key insights on advisory services and practice management issues.

Comments are closed.