10 Business-Changing Lessons We Learned From the Cloud Accounting Summit
We had an amazing time hosting the first ever virtual Cloud Accounting Summit. Not only did we learn a ton about how to run a virtual summit, but we also gained some valuable information from the guest speakers who made the event a success.
Full summit replay
Top 10 Takeaways from the Cloud Accounting Summit
In case you missed it or couldn’t attend all of the sessions, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite quotes and concepts from the summit’s expert guest speakers.
1. Throughput = the speed at which your firm is making money. Increase capacity at the weakest link in your business to improve your throughput. –John Bowman
Our own Director of Customer Success, John Bowman, shared one of the secrets behind Jetpack Workflow’s success: managing throughput well! Thinking of your firm as a chain of interlinked departments, which link is weakest? The slowest-working department is likely the weakest link overall for your firm’s throughput.
Putting on your throughput monocle, investigate the cause of the weakness that’s causing the slow pace of the department. Then find the tools this department needs to increase its capacity. Rinse and repeat for all departments.
2. Make sure you’re celebrating continuous improvement instead of getting caught up in the things that might not be going perfectly with your processes. Take the time to celebrate successes, because that’s what helps to truly keep the momentum going. –Arianna Campbell
Here at Jetpack Workflow, we’re all about celebrating the big and the small moments of success together as a team. Even in our summit retrospective meeting, we started with a discussion about what went well, what we’re grateful for, and what we’re excited to continue to do as a team and for future events.
Arianna’s advice is simple and critical – an easy win! Celebrating success is not only easy to do, but it helps support individual and collective morale that’s necessary for your firm’s success.
3. One size does not fit all in tax and accounting; you have to find the right client fit for your firm. –Jackie Meyer
Explaining her client retention method, F.O.R.E.V.E.R., Jackie explained how she increased her firm’s revenue by focusing more on going the extra mile for her clients. The “F” in FOREVER stands for “Fit.” Interview potential clients to make sure they’re not only a good fit for the services you offer, but also the right kind of personalities you want to work with. Identify the companies you’d love to work with and why; these will become the defining characteristics to look for in your client interviews.
To describe her own good Fit, Jackie explained that her niche of companies are high net-worth executives. The characteristics she looks for in a potential client include people that are respectful, a kind person, and tech savvy.
4. If you hard pitch on the first email to a new lead, it’s like proposing on the first date. It works for some people, but not for most people. Nurture your email list over time, so when the prospect is ready, they come to you. –Nate Hagerty
It can be tempting to cold call, cold email, and hard pitch prospects when you’re trying to grow your client base. But this is not always the best strategy. Nate explained that the sales strategy that works better for him is lead nurturing.
Warming up leads through a series of messages that specifically benefit them allows for a much greater chance that they will convert to becoming your clients. Continue to provide value for your leads through content that speaks directly to the problems they have, and they’ll not only stay engaged and spread the word of your firm, but will also be ready to say yes to being your client over anyone else’s when they need the services you offer.
5. Firm leaders can use scenario planning. Plan ahead for possibilities now so you’re not scrambling to resolve the conflicts if they happen in the future. –John Seiffer
Create 4-5 different future scenarios. For each scenario, really consider the details of what might happen and how your firm should respond.
Maybe in one scenario, the recession is over in 6 months. In another scenario, we have a 12-month recession or an 18-month recession.
PRO TIP: Don’t forget the best-case scenario: We can come out of this stronger. In the best-case scenario, you can hire more people, buy out your competitors, add new tools or equipment, and increase your advertising spend (especially because it’s currently cheaper than before COVID-19).
The future might not look exactly like any of the scenarios you come up with, but it will likely look like pieces of each. Taking the time to think through scenarios will help prepare you for more possible outcomes, and will reduce the anxiety and uncertainty we’ve all been experiencing during the COVID-19 era.
6. Effective marketing right now is all about support. It’s about giving your clients the resources they need during this time. –Ryan Lazanis
The three main tactics Ryan suggests for helping your clients include live video Q&As, step-by-step blog posts, and simple weekly newsletters. Choosing 3 different media (video webinar, blog post, and email newsletter) is a great way to ensure that you’re reaching as many leads as possible while limiting the workload you have to commit to.
It’s no small feat to take on three separate media for your content marketing plan, so take it easy on yourself if you don’t have a full marketing team to help you with content creation. Ryan’s advice about the frequency of posting is priceless, though: stick to publishing your content on a regular schedule (i.e. weekly newsletters every Tuesday at 7:40 a.m., weekly blog posts every Thursday at 6 a.m., monthly webinars on a Wednesday at noon, etc.).
PRO TIP: Don’t forget to add a call-to-action (CTA) to every piece of content you release. Free advice and information from your content is valuable in and of itself, but if your content is missing next steps for the audience to take to use your services or product, then you’re missing out on built-in advertising for your firm.
7. Set up things that are replicable; systems that can be repeated from customer to customer. This allows you to do value-based billing. –Jody Grunden & Jamie Nau, SummitCPA
Obviously, we love talking about workflow. So it’s no surprise that we cheered when Jody and Jamie of SummitCPA explained their tactics for how they use tools like Jetpack Workflow to automate tasks and jobs for different customers.
It was especially insightful to connect automation to value-based billing. Because they’re able to replicate tasks and projects, they’re able to charge based on a specific service instead of by the hour for all of the work they do for their clients.
8. When there’s chaos, there are opportunities to serve. You must charge for those services. Every time you charge a client, you’re saving another job in your firm, and you’re increasing your chances of being able to hire more talent off of the unemployment market. –Andrew Argue
It’s a beautiful sentiment to want to offer services for free to clients who are struggling financially. You likely have a lot of clients in this category during COVID-19.
However, if you stop charging fees for the services you provide, as Andrew illustrated, you might make it out of the recession with your job; your employees may not. Instead, his firm focuses on offering services that directly solve the relevant problems his clients are facing, and he’s charging for them. Because he’s continuing to charge, he’s able not only to keep his own paycheck but his full payroll going.
9. Legacy is the creation of permanence. It’s where business owners discover they have always been business stewards. –Mike Michalowicz
If you remember psychology class and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you’ll love Mike’s adaptation of the hierarchy pyramid illustration: the Business Hierarchy of Needs. While at the top of Maslow’s pyramid is self-actualization, Mike’s version leads to legacy as the final step.
Starting with sales to create cash, then earning profit to create stability, automation of order to create efficiency, using your business to positively impact lives will create transformation, and finally creating permanence through legacy. When you create a legacy, you allow your business to run without you and to have a brand so strong that it exists as its own entity.
Echoing the warnings of Andrew Argue, Mike Michaolwicz detailed the dangers of focusing too much on impact and giving services away for free. Some of these businesses have already given so much away that they’re hurting, downsizing, and shutting down. Instead, Mike advises to build up on the foundations of sales, then profit, and order before focusing on impact.
10. Double-down on relationships. The subscription model, or Value Pricing 2.0, puts relationships at the center of the business. Focus on efficiency with your processes; focus on the effectiveness with your clients. –Ron Baker
One of the founding fathers of value pricing in accounting, Ron Baker is no stranger to ebbing and flowing with the changing tides of economic change. Unpacking the concept of “Value Pricing 2.0,” Ron explained how subscription pricing is like pricing the relationship and the portfolio, instead of pricing the customer in Value Pricing 1.0.
Using the example of Fender Play as a marketing strategy to acquire 1,000,000 new prospects, Ron illustrated the importance of finding a pain point for your niche and leveraging your unique solution for them.
Expanding on Value Pricing 2.0 with more examples of successful subscription models, Ron hit us with the knowledge that accountants are similar to concierge doctors. Concierge doctors are here to help their patients’ physical and medical health; as an accountant, you’re here to help your clients achieve their financial dreams and stay financially healthy.
BONUS: You get to decide whether or not you’ll participate in the downturn. Decide to come out stronger instead of falling with the recession. –Dan Martell
Dan hit us with the knowledge in his fireside-style chat with David Cristello. Here are three lists of top-three tips that he offered to our audience.
Three parts to a turn on a race track:
- Hit the brakes. Decide how you can reduce extra costs in your business.
- Look at the apex of the turn, not at the possible dangers or barriers you might hit. We don’t know where or when the apex is, so we’re constantly readjusting our focus. But it’s better to keep looking for the apex than to be overwhelmed by the barriers.
- Power on out of the turn as you exit. Get ready to capture market share for now and when the recession ends.
Three mindset tips for thriving during COVID-19:
- Pivot to a business model that the current market needs. HINT: The pivots we’re making now might well be the new models for business for the future.
- Protect the business. Get your economics, metrics for success, and team in order.
- Profit is necessary. You have to generate revenue. Now may not be the time to think about scaling, but choosing what and how to monetize if your business needs to pivot.
Three actions you can take when you decide not to be part of the downturn:
- Evaluate how you’re consuming news. Consider consuming less news overall and choose sources that are more factual and less focused on click-bait, ratings, and fear-mongering.
- Move your body daily. Although some people exercise for physical appearance (an added bonus), regular workouts are more important for strengthening your mental health.
- Surround yourself with people who share the same belief and passion for life. You will always lower your drive to the average level of drive of the people with whom you surround yourself. Choose your community wisely.
Ok we couldn’t stop there. Here are three bonus Dan Martell-styled platitudes:
- Opportunity is sometimes disguised as hard work. What if what you’re going through is preparing you to be the person who’s ready for the thing you’ve been asking for?
- No million-dollar business was built on $10/hour tasks.
- Never hire a new employee until you can see that they’ll give you back 10% of your week. Use new hires and outsourcing to vendors to buy back your time from your calendar.
Want more time back in your calendar? Try Jetpack Workflow for free for 14 days, and discover how you can automate tasks to free up more of your daily schedule and focus on bigger and better things.
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