Tuesday, August 16
Session #3 – We Say Z, They Say Zed
When Amy Vetter started visiting accountants and accounting firms abroad, she was taken by just how similar their day-to-day grind was to the practices here. It was like looking in a mirror. Changes in technology. Hiring. Marketing. Retaining clients. How to approach these issues seemed to pop up in every conversation.
What she saw drove home the point that today’s great big accounting universe really is a small world after all.
In her upcoming presentation at Xerocon SF 2016 – “We Say Z, They Say Zed” – Vetter, CPA, CITP, CGMA, Xero’s Global VP, Education and U.S. Head of Accounting, will examine the need for today’s accounting practitioners and practices to take an entirely different approach to how they do business, i.e., including thinking globally.
Thanks to the Cloud, borders have come down. That’s the takeaway Vetter wants you to walk away with – a mindset, she says, today’s accounting professional must embrace. During meetings with accountants in Australia, New Zealand and the UK in her trips with Xero, Vetter observed how closely they networked with accountants and bookkeepers from all over the world.
“They started looking at how to network with each other and their clients, because they were having business relationships beyond their marketplaces,” Vetter recalls. “It was very eye opening to see them willing to try new things.”
What Vetter noticed back home was that in similar conversations about expanding the scope of their businesses, especially internationally, she would hear comments like, “I don't know, maybe in a couple years” or “We're not moving as fast.”
And then it hit her. Because a firm gets used to doing things a certain way, Vetter saw that U.S. accountants were apprehensive to think outside of the box. “You start going, wow,” Vetter says. “Even if you're in a small business advisory practice, it's really cool how it's not just about the United States anymore. That’s what America was founded on – taking risks, trying new things and being entrepreneurial.”
“Having a larger network is going to be important, and not just in your immediate area. It’s going to be more about marketing yourself and showing your expertise to people who can find you.”
Sure, if your firm is firmly cemented in working an existing client base using the same protocols and systems, why change. Making the move to work across the country or abroad can be a big investment. But that’s where Vetter challenges you to re-channel your thinking process. Think of that investment as an investment in your future. “The people who are willing to do this will eventually – and can – take your customers, because you're not going to be ready.”
With the race to build client bases predicated on your ability to match – and exceed – what the competition is offering, acquiring new clients in the new accounting landscape means expanding your network across all geographic boundaries and mediums.
Simply put – don’t think of your network as the clients you have down the road, across town, or in and around the region, but across the world. “Having a larger network is going to be important, and not just in your immediate area,” Vetter says. It’s going to be more about marketing yourself and showing your expertise to people who can find you.”
To help broaden your thinking on expanding your firm’s opportunities, Vetter offers five steps to get you started:
No. 1 – All About the Mindset
Growing your business starts with a mindset. Implementing a business plan that becomes a conscious piece of your culture is a good place to start. “Getting the buy in for your firm is really important,” Vetter says. “Step away from the business and make sure you're always looking forward three to five years of where you want to be, and that you're set up for that. Whether globalization is a priority or not, you still need to set goals and make sure you've dedicated the appropriate amount of time doing it.”
No. 2 – If it Ain't Broke....You Can Still Fix It
Too many people operate under the “If ain't broke, don't fix it” mantra. And while there is credence to doing the same thing you have always done to please your clients, you can still expand your thinking. “You have to look at what the new opportunities are,” Vetter says. “That's why it’s important to attend conferences like Xerocon http://xerocon.com/ . Just being exposed to what's out there, and where these companies think the world is going, helps. It gives you the opportunity to see if it’s a path you want to travel down.”
No. 3 – Do What You Do Best
With technology constantly evolving, it’s hard to be an expert on everything. Few firms have the money and manpower to adapt so quickly. Vetter recommends finding your niche and promoting it – everywhere. “You cannot have your staff and yourself learning a million different products,” she says. “But once you find your specialization, it will help you determine how to get yourself out there.”
No. 4 – Expand Your Thinking on Hiring
Because of the cloud, there's no hindrance to where someone works. That means you can have people work for you wherever they are. “Meeting these people and seeing what other untapped opportunities are out can get you ahead,” Vetter says. “At the end of the day, there's only so much available time, and we all have demands with our clients, and so forth. If you're really serious about business development and making a change, you hire someone to do the day-to-day stuff, so you can get out there and build your business again. Think like an entrepreneur.”
“Being exposed to what's out there, and where these companies think the world is going, helps. It gives you the opportunity to see if it’s a path you want to travel down.”
No. 5 – Be a Thought Leader
Once you hone in on your niche, start marketing your wares. “Network yourself based on the practice you want to be,” Vetter says. “Maybe that's globally or maybe it’s a new skill set. The key is to become an expert through articles and blogs and networking yourself to attract clients or other businesses to work with. Find conferences that can help set you apart.”
In the end, business in the new accounting global marketplace means seizing new opportunities for growth with an entrepreneurial bent on reshaping that “business as usual” approach.
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