The Side Hustle: Everybody is doing it, so why aren't you?
When you’re just starting your own business, you spend a lot of time thinking about income and revenue.
Specifically, how to bring in extra income or revenue for your business. It isn’t too long before the “side hustle” pops into mind.
And that’s entirely reasonable, as side hustles are a great way to bring in extra funds for yourself as the business gets going.
When it comes to side hustles, accountants have a number of options:
- If you’re ready to spend a lot of time and effort, you can develop your skills into a new niche with high demand.
- You can add book keeping to your services, which can generate extra income for relatively straight-forward work (if not as much as your general accounting services).
- To demonstrate expertise and make some small “passive” income, you could write a how-to-guide or book and self-publish (competing with every other book on accounting out on the market).
- You can burn the midnight oil and sacrifice your lifestyle to do extra freelancing work (whether it’s accounting, book keeping or something else) in the evenings or on weekends.
- Add complementary services to your business, like financial planning, virtual CFO advisory or loan brokering.
All of these are side hustles accountants have done to varying degrees of success. But one thing all but the last point share is that they’re avenues of finding new clients or new work. While that produces the cash you’re after, it doesn’t necessarily contribute to your longer-term success.
Stephen Brake, partner of Brisbane-based accountancy firm Hanrick Curran, says that accountants “should always be looking for solutions for clients in areas outside of our core competencies”.
SalesForce pointed out in a presentation, attracting new clients is 6 to 7 times more expensive than retaining your existing ones. So, if you could start a side hustle that kept your clients on-board AND provided them with more value for their business, it might prove to be a “side hustle to rule them all”.
While financial planning, virtual CFO advisory and loan brokering are all potential options for delivering that value, moving beyond your core competencies may prove to be even more valuable.
Technology may be that “beyond”.
Yet, technology and accounting are moving closer and closer together. If you’ve been practicing for any time, you’ve seen firsthand how technology has revolutionised the accounting profession. It’s no surprise that accountancies are beginning to offer technology services to their clients. Why couldn’t you do the same as a side hustle, with the mid to long-term goal of making it a full service offering that’s an integral part of your business?
But wait, let’s not get ahead of ourselves...
What is a Managed Technology Service?
Impressive-sounding though it is, managed technology is simply IT handled by a third party. Instead of having to set up your own PCs, servers, networks, software and everything else technology, it’s all done for you.
In this day and age, more businesses than ever before rely on technology to run their business. If the IT lights were to go off, their business would be in big trouble quick smart.
By offering managed technology to your clients as a product or service, you suddenly become much more than an accountant. But there are
plenty of other reasons why this you should put this side hustle under the microscope.
5 Reasons Managed Technology Works With Your Accounting Firm
1. “More than an accountant”
Businesses see you as their accountant. They see their marketer as their marketer, their suppliers as their suppliers, and so on. If you were to break out of that mould as something more, your importance and value to them instantly rises. By integrating technology advice and services into your business, you’re now a “one-stop shop” for all their business and technology advisory. And that’s a valuable relationship for them and you.
2. Generates regular revenue
Of course, the whole reason you’re launching this side hustle is to produce extra cash for your business. That’s exactly what managed technology services can bring to the table for your business. One client using your white labelled technology services immediately starts to generate a steady, monthly stream of cash (not just a one-off sum).
3. Your clients’ success is your success
Having a multi-faceted relationship with your clients does more than increase their value to you. It means that as your clients grow, your business grows with them as they not only have a greater need for accounting, but technology too.
4. Reduce commoditisation risk
Ironically, the widespread adoption of technology is driving commoditisation in the accounting industry. Traditional services like tax compliance are at risk of become a 21s-century dodo, at least for the vast majority of accountants. Using managed technology to diversify your business helps to reduce the commoditisation risk and add to your business’ revenue streams.
5. Set-up is minimal
With most side hustles, you need to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. And not just for a week or two, but sometimes for months
or even years. By offering a managed technology service that an expert delivers on your behalf, you need a lot less elbow grease (if any).
“Setting up” a White Label Managed Technology Service
To get your managed technology side hustle rolling, you really just need two things, neither of which you need to create yourself.
- A way to deliver the service to clients
- A way to market the service
Let’s talk about setting up a managed technology service offering for your business.
The short answer: partner with a technology business who handle most of the marketing and all of the service delivery under your business name.
The longer answer: you work with a technology expert to market and deliver this service to existing or new clients you bring into your accounting firm. The expert shows you the basics of the offerings, so you can talk to clients about it. However, you’re only a first point of contact, and anyone interested gets passed over to your tech partner. Once the client is onboard, the partner delivers the service and pays you an ongoing commission.
That’s all there is to it on the delivery side.
Obviously, you’ll need to market your new white label offering under the umbrella of your business name. This might mean...
- Brochures or flyers produced for your business
- Blog posts, newsletters and other digital content
- Someone to handle sales meetings (something the technology business should handle)
- Experts available for “lunch and learns” and other client events
Again, this is something your technology partner may (and should) be able to help you with. Your financial stake in the side hustle will differ largely around this part. By keeping marketing “low key” and just emailing clients or discussing it face-to-face, you can limit your outlay to almost zero in terms of cash. If you can afford the investment, the marketing materials may play a part in accelerating the up-take on your new offering.
Full Disclosure: If you offer a white label service, whether it’s managed technology or anything else, be sure to disclose
any relationships and commissions you’re receiving to potential clients so they can make an informed decision.
A Managed Technology “Bonus Extra”
The thought of getting paid to deliver a service you don’t have to manage directly might sound like an incredible deal. The idea of having someone else manage all your technology might also seem appealing.
Managed technology isn’t something you have to limit to your clients. If better-organised technology could help your business, or you don’t
have the time and inclination to spend getting your tehcnolgy just right, you can always outsource it to your tech partner.
So, what side hustle are you looking at?
Side hustles are a growing part of many businesses. But before you run with one, you want to make sure it’s right for you.
- Generates extra cash for you or the business
- Lets you leverage efforts to build up your existing business
- Doesn’t take slaving away for the next few years to get results
- Costs as little or as much as you can afford to get up and running
- Adds additional value for clients beyond your core competencies
A white label managed technology service ticks all those boxes. In a phrase, it’s perfect for accountants who want the hustle without the hassle.
Have you thought of adding a side hustle to your accountancy? If so, where are you looking to direct your efforts? Is technology an area outside your core competencies that you can use to create new value for your clients?