If you have the credentials to handle accounting in other countries, you may want to pursue some international clients. Alternatively, you may want to market your services to Canadian citizens who live in other countries and have to file a return in Canada. In both cases, fostering relationships with clients who live in other countries can be more challenging than attending to clients in your own country.
Find a Niche
Marketing is almost always more successful if you have a niche. Decide exactly the type of clients you want to serve. Do you want to work with Canadian subsidiaries of foreign companies or Canadian expats with real estate income in Canada? Are you interested in helping foreign investors who want to enter into the Canadian market? These are just some of the potential areas to target.
Once you identify a niche, craft your marketing around it. Find the newspapers or websites your target audience reads and buy advertising space there. Publish articles on LinkedIn, write blogs on your own website, or pen guest posts on other sites, and in those posts, provide tips and tricks to taxpayers in your target audience. As people do internet searches for various ideas, they may run across your posts and decide to hire you.
Go Beyond the Numbers
If you’re trying to land international clients who aren’t Canadian expats, you need to know more than just accounting basics. You also need to understand as much as possible about your prospective clients’ cultures. When you understand some basic cultural norms, you can make pitches, approach prospects, and respond to clients in the ways they expect.
Unfortunately, actions that may be routine in one culture may be considered rude or untoward in another culture. Also, remember that the message can get lost in translation. For instance, if a client sends you an email and you aren’t entirely clear about what it means, you need to ask. Very simply and clearly, tell the client what you think he means and make sure everyone is on the same page.
Work Out Payment Plans
International clients may need to pay you in different ways than your usual clients. If they don’t have Canadian bank accounts, they may need to wire funds to your account. If you prefer to take credit card payments, you need to ensure your payment processing software accepts international cards and the cost of processing payments does not cut into your profits.
Schedule Meet and Greets
To inject some personalism into your service, you may need to find ways to meet your clients in person. If you’re working with a lot of clients in the same area, you may want to travel there and set up a meet and greet. If a single client is providing you with a lot of work, you may want to meet him independently at key times throughout the year to develop those personal connections. In cases where travel is not possible, consider using Skype or a similar program so you can video conference or engage in real-time communication.
The world is becoming more and more connected every day. Offering your services to international clients can be a great way to bolster your client list, but you need to be ready for the unique challenges of reaching across borders.