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Case Study: Growing Your Accounting Practice – Part 2

Oct 6th 2017
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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 plan to run as part of our partnership with Avalara, as we have a shared belief in seeing the accounting profession move forward and address today’s business challenges in order to face tomorrow. These interviews were conducted by Jeremy Korst, CMO of Avalara. He recently spoke with Mathew Heggem, CEO of SUM Innovation which designs, implements and manages accounting solutions for startups, growing businesses, international companies and nonprofits.

As part of this discussion, Heggem reveals the benefits of automation, marketing and what it takes to stand out in an increasingly crowded market.

Korst: You firmly believe in technology-driven accounting — why?

Heggem: Both the firm and the client benefit. We set up clients with tech solutions that will still be competitive in five years or more. This positively impacts their ability to succeed in the market. That is very powerful and an asset to the firm’s reputation. The newer generation of entrepreneurs knows that technology is available to them, and they expect it.

Korst: How does automation play a role?

Heggem: Anything that can be automated should be. This brings efficiencies that allow your staff to get to know clients beyond the numbers. From there, they can help guide conversations around growth strategies and really own a piece of the growth puzzle to help make clients successful.

Korst: What does the journey to automation look like?

Heggem: You have to choose the model that makes the most sense for you today and aim the organization toward where you want to be tomorrow. The model you choose needs to go back to whatever you are really good at. Hyper-customize and deepen your experience in your chosen vertical, letting automation do a lot of the work for you. Specialize so you stand out more.

Korst: What’s your approach to hiring?

Heggem: I need people with tech experience who can build relationships and communicate with clients in a more authentic and purpose-driven way. They are more than just ‘numbers people.’

Korst: How do you tackle marketing?

Heggem: I see marketing as a form of storytelling. It’s an art, and there are many ways to share stories: videos, case studies, webinars, blogs, panel discussions. It is not easy to do. You may have to hire high-level marketing people and stop selling out-of-the-box solutions.

Korst: What sets you apart [as a firm]?

Heggem: Branding is critical. Clients choose to work with SUM Innovation because our brand is clear and consistent whether they visit the office, our website, or interact with any employee. It is evident in marketing materials and online blogs and postings.


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