Creativity Can Benefit Your Accounting Practice

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Dominic Diongson
Deputy Editor
AccountingWEB
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Firms across the country are all either struggling with maintaining business as-is, with minor tweeks along the road to retirement or, mostly, figuring out how to be unique and retain clients for the long haul.

According to Mathew Heggem, CEO of consulting firm SUM Innovation, creativity can be most beneficial for your accounting firm by helping to diversify your practice. In his seminar “Unraveling Innovation: How to Foster Creativity to Improve Your Firm’s Growth Strategy” at Accountex USA in Boston, Heggem spoke about how creativity will give a firm the edge it needs to grow and get the team engaged.

He noted that those who don’t have accounting degrees can have significant impact on your practice, he said. Setting himself as an example, his background in choreography -- which involves discipline and the study of other subjects such as physics -- offers a “transferable skillset” to accounting practitioners, he added.

“I’m not big in business plans, but I am big on growth plans,” Heggem said. “Investing in creativity is beneficial for everyone.”

Some advice he offers include blocking out time for creativity and finding out what creates inspiration.

“Come up with a system for discipline,” he said. “Creativity is about being inspired. See what inspires you, and continue to find what inspires you.”

It’s a myth that accountants aren’t creative, he said, with some as musicians and others having different artistic talent.

“The challenge in fostering creativity has everything to do with who’s not in the room,” Heggem said. Part of that lies in the methods of how you are attracting talent, he added.

Some of his suggestions on practices for creativity include reading non-accounting books, like The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries, and following what your client is reading.

“Hiring a sum version of yourself is insanity,” Heggem said. “Challenge yourself to bring people onto the bus because it’s that diversity that will create opportunity.”

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