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Welcome to the Future of Firms

Plenty has been written in these first months of this global pandemic, in part comparing what we know now to what we knew during the global pandemic dubbed the Spanish Flu in 1918. There is even an encyclopedia dedicated to the Spanish Flu pandemic. However, there is one clear distinction: while very little exists that helps us understand how small businesses and their operations were impacted by the flu back in 1918, right now the impact on small businesses is front and center.

My latest webinar as part of Bill.com’s Automating Success webinar series, How Accounting Firms Can Thrive During the Recovery (watch on demand now), is all about the future of firms, and how we are meant to respond to such a crippling global pandemic and its impact. Essentially, my webinar was to prepare us as firm owners for the future we are now living in.

We’re in a new era now. We’ve all learned new things, we’ve seen what we can do differently (because we were forced to), and we’re learning how to remain agile during a time of seemingly never-ending changes with this unknown pandemic. To help firm owners, I discussed five Leadership Principles in the webinar that can aid you in weaving through the economic complexity of the unknown pandemic. The five principles are signs of what a leading firm is doing, and how firms will come out of this pandemic poised to remain strong in an uncertain economy.

Here are the 5 Principles of a Market Leader Firm:

1. Positioning

Leaders position themselves in front of their ideal market in such clear ways that potential clients are either attracted to or subtracted from the professional's awareness of their own value.

Leading firms of the future are being very clear to their target market about who they serve and why. This economy can not take any confusion— so firms are being intentional to speak clearly about their value. Further, healthy firms are seeking to pivot into other markets to serve as a means to de-risk their firms. There is an un-niching happening, so to speak, and it is something firms that want to remain healthy need to consider.

2. Pricing

Leaders price with intention in a way that reflects that they know their own true value and the funding they are asking their clients to contribute to their firm.

Leading firms are being intentional to make sure that their price reflects all of the value that they are delivering to clients, or that they at least know what value they are overdelivering with. A real example of overdelivering is that many firms are serving their clients with PPP and Forgiveness services, which are decidedly outside of the original scope with their clients. This principle may also involve lowering your price to reflect a lesser value you are now delivering. Though this will hurt your firm’s cash flow, the point of this principle is that the price and the service must match now so that there is no confusion in the client relationship.

3. People

Leaders are committed to their team in a way that demonstrates they expect them to live by such a high standard that even the client is aware of the firm's own recognition of its value simply by the expectation the firm places on the team for its role in great service.

Leading firms are moving closer to their teams, spending time devoted to them, and training and leading them in ways they may not have done before. One particular point here is that firms are holding their team to their roles and responsibilities, and seeking to make sure everyone is working collaboratively together to deliver value to their clients. Now is a time when this difficult economy will not tolerate absentee firm leaders, or inefficient languid team members.

4. Processes

Leaders design supporting firm processes around the consistent and efficient delivery of services by teaching their team to work in ways that are ordered, planned, and timely so that the end delivery of work makes a statement about the firm's own recognized strong value with the client.

Leading firms are doubling down on squeezing all the value out of their processes. Leaders are rebuilding valuable processes (like a New Client Onboarding Process) that lead teams to serve clients with the clarity needed in a down market. Processes are the rails on which firms operate and define the service that valuable firms are delivering.

5. Planning

Leaders recognize that their firm's value is delivered not only in the ultimate service to the client but in the ordered, strategic planning of the organization's future, and they commit to this planning with as much intention as they produce their services.

Leading firms are spending time looking into the future, making plans, planning along with the pandemic as it progresses, and still planning their approach to the markets they serve. Successful firm leaders have 2-hour blocks on their calendars each week (at a minimum) to maintain their growth and the activities they need to perform to remain proactive. If you are unsure how to do that, we lead a 3-day entrepreneurial event for firm owners called the Thriveal Incubator to teach you these concepts.

These 5 P’s of Market Leading firms can be a guide to you as a firm owner while you wade through the complexity of operating in this global pandemic. To further aid you in determining where you stand as a Market Leader (or a Market Laggard), you can take our online test which will help you grade your progress. You can find the Market Leader Readiness Assessment online here: https://thriveal.com/market-leader/

Join Bill.com’s Automating Success Masterclass

Don’t miss Jason’s next webinars on Pricing and business model, as part of the Bill.com Automating Success series, which brings industry thought leaders who have adapted and thrived to walk you through what it takes to redefine your business for today’s world. Subscribe today and gain access to all on-demand webinars.

August 19, 2020
Jason Blumer
Jason and his partner have also been leading their own firm, Blumer & Associates, CPAs , for over 15 years. The firm was one of the first to move from a traditional office to a virtual environment, where they serve various creative service niches. He and his partner focus heavily on business coaching and consulting with firms and agencies, while their team meets the technical and compliance needs of the client. Jason is the co-host of two podcasts, the Thrivecast and The Businessology Show and speaks and writes frequently for creative agencies. He has been honored as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting (Accounting Today).