by Jason Blumer, CEO at Thriveal

Being connected to the right circles is a recipe for CA business success

Accounting professionals can go from surviving to thriving with the right support

Jason Blumer Head Shot - 2020.JPG

The small and medium-sized business sector is the lifeblood of every economy. Whether you are in the US, UK, Australia or South Africa, you will hear about the importance of nurturing small businesses.

One of the most rewarding elements of my work is that I get to connect with real firm owners with real firm issues relevant to each market. I am particularly excited to be in South Africa, to unpack unique South African business challenges, and work through real issues with real people in the trenches, so to speak.

It is an exciting time to be a certified public accountant (CPA) - the equivalent of a South African Chartered Accountant, or CA - with so much opportunity to be innovative and redefine how we do business. While each market around the world is different, there are certain fundamentals that CAs can take to heart to improve their businesses. With the right mindset and support, we can envisage a world where a small accounting business owner goes from surviving to thriving.

That is exactly why I founded the Thriveal CPA Network - to support firm owners as they learn how to become better business owners, lead with courage, experiment with innovations and change the lives of those they serve. Think about it, not only are CAs technicians, but they are entrepreneurs that have the potential to drive positive influence in the businesses they serve.

Entrepreneurship can, and does, take many forms. Many entrepreneurs have brilliant ideas, but often they hold onto the idea of the company remaining just how they imagined it. At some point, a company outgrows the founder. This is when the entrepreneur must let go of the company to allow it to become an entity all on its own. Especially at certain team sizes and client sizes, successful entrepreneurs eventually give up their own personal desires and allow the needs of a larger organisation to be met.

Humans first

As CAs, it is important to recognise that we are in the human-care business. We deliver services such as tax, accounting, and consulting, but essentially we are in the service of humans. Humans are often afraid, struggle in their businesses, and need someone to provide closer care for them while they lead their company.

If firm owners realised the impact they could have on business owners' lives, then they could serve fewer clients, get closer to their clients, and price their services much higher.

Many entrepreneurs need to learn how to balance their vision and ideas with the execution of those ideas. Often, they struggle to understand how important it is to meet the needs of clients, instead of serving themselves in the business that they own. Businesses only exist because they provide some market value to the world.

CA businesses are not here to solely serve themselves. They must serve their clients, and thus CAs must learn to execute their ideas in a way that makes them valuable to the market they have chosen to serve.

If your head’s not in the cloud, it should be

Every firm should have adopted cloud computing by now. I'm not even sure that's a trend anymore. It is a necessity to remain competitive. Cloud accounting software is a case in point. Automation of functions is not a luxury anymore. The world is being disrupted all around us and the only way business owners can stay ahead of the curve and keep their ideas creative and firms moving forward is if they can invest all their energy in the actual business of running their businesses.

Having issues such as security of data and compliance handled automatically also greatly reduces the burden on the entrepreneur. At the end of the day, our ideas and creativity are what become translated into our packages and offerings. These ideas need to be nourished.

Price the service not the hour

A trend around the world is pricing services instead of billing by the hour. In my experience and in my interactions with firms, this is becoming a more popular model of making money. However, the switch should be treated with due regard.

It takes a lot of skill to transform a firm to a value model, as opposed to selling on a transactional model. This means firm owners should be cautious and take the time to do it properly when converting their firms. Here, leaning on the experience of those that have successfully been along this path can save an owner headaches and having to navigate the change through trial and error.

Broader reach

Becoming a remote firm is also a trend, however, a business owner should consider this very carefully, and then tread lightly. It's a difficult model to lead from a team cultural perspective, even though it does provide wider access to clients across broader geographies.

No one said running a firm was easy. I started my career working for a large multi-office firm in South Carolina in the US. When I took the leap to work for myself I knew that networks would be vital. As I travel and coach in diverse places, one fundamental fact rings true everywhere: being part of a community of connected practitioners, all at various stages in their careers and business journeys, is a very important ingredient in the recipe for success.

●       Blumer is a keynote speaker at the Intuit QuickBooks Get Connected events in Cape Town and Johannesburg on 4th and 6th February respectively. He runs a CPA business in the US and founded Thriveal to provide a community that supports and uplifts each member as the accounting profession gets to grips with the new digital world. Intuit QuickBooks, which runs online forums and other support events for small business owners, actively seeks out thought leaders to provide the best possible helping hand to those in the accounting profession. Accountants and Bookkeepers, to register to attend Get Connected by Intuit QuickBooks, please follow the link: https://quickbooks.intuit.com/za/events/get-connected/

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