Using Technology and Organic Growth Strategies to Expand Your Accounting Firm

Gusto Editors

Do you have questions about how to grow your accounting practice online?

As society becomes increasingly virtual, businesses need to engage clients in that realm. Many firms feel lost when transitioning from the physical to the virtual world and struggle with finding the best ways to gain their clients’ attention digitally. If your firm could use a digital remodel, this article is definitely for you.

 Partnering with CPA Academy, we delivered an informative webinar to shed some light on transitioning your technology. “Building a Virtual CPA Firm,” dives into the tech world and provides insight into how you can gain control over technology by simplifying its implementation at your firm. 

The webinar was hosted by Daniel Moshe specializes in providing accounting firms with innovative technology resources and guidance through his company, Tech Guru.  Daniel is passionate about applying technology to firms to help them grow business. 

In this article, we will look into virtual business, technology platform examples, and how to grow your accounting practice online. 

The frustrations of growing your practice online

The ability to create a scalable business is the goal for most accounting firms. To grow your business, you need to clarify and prioritize your goals. Only then can you set a plan for how best to achieve them: 

“In the work that we’ve done with accounting firms over the years, we have seen a couple of trends. … The [goals] we commonly hear are growing revenue, adding revenue, or another line of business, or specializing in a specific industry or niche.”

– Daniel Moshe

One of the most significant stumbling blocks to organic business growth is commonly the technology systems firms use. An outdated system causes issues with workplace flexibility. This lack of flexibility results in frustration, adding obstacles for firms trying to reach their goals: 

“These are the common frustrations that we hear when talking to firms about the goals they are trying to accomplish. We hear about a lack of scalability and how their current systems and processes can’t help them grow. … I hear that [firms] can’t work remotely or access work from home and be flexible with how, when, and where [they] work.”

– Daniel Moshe

The lack of digital systems in firms also causes them to struggle when looking for new hires. The next generation of accounting professionals want to be working at firms using the latest technology: 

“The next generation of professionals … want the latest in modern technology, …  applications like Google Workspace, and collaboration platforms that allow them to work with their [colleagues] in real-time.”

– Daniel Moshe
Female leader sharing with team on new technology

Another frustration for firms as they transition to virtual systems is a lack of knowledge about how the systems work. Having a lack of information about technology creates system mistrust, hampering efforts to move toward and adopt virtual technology practices:

“I hear concern around cybersecurity and whether cloud services and platforms are as secure as their servers. There are also business continuity questions like, ‘If we rely on these types of online platforms, what happens if they go down?’ and ‘I want to move to the cloud, but we’re not sure when, how, or where to start.’”

– Daniel Moshe

These frustrations become insurmountable obstacles for firms in many cases. To get past these struggles, firms need to begin  taking small steps, rather than focusing on wholesale system change. Taking smaller steps will eventually lead to achieving the overall goal. 

Translating business objectives into technology priorities

When you plan the steps your firm will take, the best way to integrate technology into those steps is by having a direction for your firm. As you make strides toward your goal, supportive technology becomes easier to discern. Integrating plans for your technology into your plans for growth tailors the tech to your firm’s needs at every stage:

“Great business planning leads to great technology planning. There’s no way to shortcut it. What we have found in helping CPA firms with their technology is when they have a clear business direction, they’re much more likely to get what they want out of their technology.”

– Daniel Moshe

Every firm is unique, so the technology implemented into the firm needs to reflect that. For example, the tools needed by an emerging firm may significantly outnumber the ones required by a more established firm. Many factors need considering when choosing technology:

“There are hundreds and thousands of firms out there; no two are exactly the same. [Each firm has its own] partners and staff, geographic location, and service mix. No two firms are the same.”

– Daniel Moshe

Although every firm requires unique technology applications, the strategies behind implementing the technology apply to firms universally. There are four common areas of focus to successfully translate business objectives into technology priorities . 

Four areas to strengthen for organic business growth

The first area to focus on while strengthening your firm’s technological prowess is cloud storage. The workflow within your firm benefits from shifting your focus from internal servers to the cloud. As a result, your team gains the ability to access information seamlessly from anywhere they choose to work:

“Of all the potential areas to strengthen, number one is moving apps to the cloud. The reason we recommend that is no matter where you are, you can access the same systems and collaborate on the same platforms seamlessly. … Moving into the cloud makes it irrelevant where the server is or where your staff members happen to be. They can work and collaborate from anywhere.”

– Daniel Moshe
Man on using tablet technology to work on a project

The second component to strengthen your technology is workflow and project management software. Using the proper workflow management tools makes it so your team can effectively utilize the information you have stored in the cloud. These tools make it possible for your firm to work together from multiple locations without worrying about losing information:

“An online or cloud-based workflow and project management system can help make sure that balls don’t get dropped. Everybody knows who’s responsible for what, knows what commitments have been made to the client, and can see at a glance where workflows live. It also helps you break out of the ‘workflow by piles’ or workflow with paper methodology.”

– Daniel Moshe

As technology streamlines the workflow throughout your firm, the next step to take is toward your clients. To increase client engagement, you need to make the interaction as easy as possible. Creating systems that feel natural when communicating and sharing information with clients will maximize the effectiveness of your tech:

“Client engagement is working, contributing, and collaborating with your clients. It’s sharing documents securely, of course, but it’s also communicating and messaging with your clients. It’s video conferencing and going beyond the telephone. [Technology] makes connecting with your firm as easy and seamless as possible for your clients.”

– Daniel Moshe

Finally, strengthening the ability to collaborate in real-time gives your team the ability to interact with each other while they are out of the office. Focusing on the way your firm communicates with itself will increase its efficiency and allow for the flexibility your firm desires: 

“Last but not least, strengthen the internal collaboration component. Whether it’s intra-office messaging, starting to reduce reliance on email, or how you communicate internally, it’s all about strengthening internal collaboration to smooth the communication channels within your firm. [This will] get work out the door more quickly and more efficiently.”

– Daniel Moshe

By incorporating technology into these strategies, your business will grow organically. Integrating remote working technology will become the backbone of creating a scalable business that incorporates an effective work environment for your team. As a result, you will see an improvement in the interaction between teammates, more effective workflow, and increased customer engagement. 

Learn more about remote working technology and growing your practice online

Stepping into the virtual business world may seem daunting, but it offers the potential to facilitate exponential growth at your firm. When you first focus on your business objectives for growth and then integrate technology into those objectives, your firm naturally grows into a scalable business: 

“Take a business-first technology approach. It’s easy to look at all the shiny new pieces of technology at conferences with your peers, but what makes the most sense is to build your platform with intention.”

– Daniel Moshe

If you would like to learn more about the technology platforms that can help your firm grow, check out the entire webinar here. Also, be sure to check out Part Two and Part Three of this article series for more information about implementing remote working technology to facilitate organic business growth. 

Our mission at Gusto is to create a world where accounting firms can seamlessly integrate technology to facilitate growth. We currently partner with over 4,500 firms nationwide to create incredible workplaces. Be sure to look into our People Advisory Program to learn how to train your team to reach its potential. We also provide a partner blog full of resources for all your advising needs. Visit our Gusto for Accountants page for more information on utilizing people-based accounting within your firm.

Gusto Editors Gusto Editors, contributing authors on Gusto, provide actionable tips and expert advice on HR and payroll for successful business management.
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