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Case Study: Growing Your Accounting Practice – Part 9

Feb 22nd 2018
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It’s no mystery these days how technology has permeated nearly every aspect of business life, accounting firm staff and owners included. But has it really improved what they do or create more challenges?

Whether you are in growth-mode or not, accounting firms struggle with basic productivity issues and simply keeping pace with their colleagues and growing business needs of their clients.

We have found that they tend to benefit from hearing about what their colleagues went through and their shared success. As such, sales tax and compliance service provider Avalara produced a series of case studies of firms they have worked with that, like many, have had to overcome challenges with efficiency and updating technology in the right way.

Below is the next in a series of case studies we are running as part of our partnership with Avalara, as we have a shared belief in seeing the accounting profession move forward and to address today’s business challenges in order to face tomorrow. The most recent interviews were conducted by Julie Lubetkin, Vice President of Marketing, Channels and Partnerships at Avalara.

She recently spoke with Marjorie Adams CEO at Fourlane – a QuickBooks consulting practice and small business advisor, about the challenges of building and growing essentially a virtual business.

Lubetkin: What’s your secret to growth?

Marjorie Adams

Adams: Providing a wide range of consulting services has helped us grow quickly, since we not only sell products like QuickBooks Point of Sale and QuickBooks Enterprise to new clients but also convert clients using other systems into the QuickBooks space. We also have a custom development side, which allows us to build specialized functionality in QuickBooks to problem-solve for clients.

Lubetkin: Are clients comfortable hiring a virtual company?

Adams: Yes, so much is done online now. We are a completely online company with a desktop product, and our clients benefit from the efficiency. We cut out the time and expense of travel for clients while still giving them quick turnaround on support.

Lubetkin: Do you position yourself differently as a virtual organization?

Adams: Not necessarily, though we do make sure our clients are aware that we are virtual. As recently as two years ago, however, I rarely talked about being a 100 percent virtual organization. People didn’t view us as a ‘real’ company since we didn’t have staff concentrated in a physical office, but attitudes have changed. Now we are the only virtual company on the Top 100 VAR list.

Lubetkin: Do you hire differently being virtual?

Adams: In the past, I would look for specific skills and experience, like a ProAdvisor membership. But now I look for certain behaviors: a drive to achieve and advance, creativity, and the ability to think outside the box. I’m not afraid of non-rule followers. In fact, I need people who break the rules in order to figure stuff out. That helps our firm grow.

Lubetkin: How do you attract top talent?

Adams: We have a very defined growth path for employees, so they know exactly what it takes to advance. That resonates with the next-gen workforce and makes people want to stay at a company. Being on the Forbes financial council also makes us an attractive employer.