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The ideal customer for Sorcerer's Accountant is an owner of a very small business. Having launched within the last few years, the customer has just hired his first employee.

The bookkeeping work (accounts payable and receivable, payroll, bank reconciliations, tax preparation) that the owner did for the first few years is taking more and more time and is holding him back from working on sales, marketing, and strategy for the business. The new employee has been hired to handle more of the technical work of the business, not to do bookkeeping. However, when considering the type of bookkeeping help he can afford, the customer realizes that a ten-hour-a-week employee would most likely be a student or low-skills worker who would require a great deal of training.

The customer is put off by the idea of spending a great deal of time training such an individual, who may leave within a year (or even less) due to school schedule changes or finding a full-time job. He realizes that keeping the books correctly is important work, but because he understands his own value to the business, his knows his time is better spent elsewhere. He might then begin to search for professional bookkeeping options that can offer just a low-level of support by doing his own research and asking other business owners he knows.

Market Description

The small business accounting market consists of virtually every small business in the United States. As businesses grow larger than one person sole proprietorships, they generally require expert help with at least their tax preparation, and often with additional bookkeeping and accounting services. Even many non-employer sole proprietorships will use accounting help at some point. While some small businesses hire bookkeepers or CFOs directly, many successfully outsource these types of services.

The market for Sorcerer's Accountant is small businesses in the city limits of Chicago. This will represent approximately 85,000 businesses in 2010. This market can be subdivided into three groups:

Non-employer firms: Without employees, these firms do not have many of the concerns of larger businesses. However, the owners must be vigilant to protect their own tax liability and sort out how their personal and business tax returns intersect. These firms are generally buyers of QuickBooks services and tax preparation services. As they grow, this group becomes ripe for outsourced bookkeeping services before they can hire a full-time in-house bookkeeper.

Very small businesses: Defined for our purposes as businesses with 2-10 employees. Made up of businesses that are designed to stay small and those which are growing through a phase, these businesses require payroll services, bookkeeping, and tax preparation. They are concerned about losing control, but can generally be convinced of using outsourced accounting and bookkeeping with cost analysis. With the stakes higher, these businesses can make greater use of management accounting services, especially as most cannot afford a dedicated CFO. Many do not need a full-time bookkeeper, but can made due with part-time help, which limits their hiring options.

Other small businesses: Defined for our purposes as businesses with 11 to 99 employees. Many of these businesses will have some in-house financial management and bookkeeping help. However, they may be able to save money by outsourcing these services as they are not generally core to what the business seeks to do. These businesses may be comfortable with their situation as a cash producer for their owners or intent on growing or positioning themselves for sale.

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