Bad news, CPAs, accountants, and bookkeepers.
Your clients and the ways they do business are changing. If you want yourbusiness to stay relevant, you better keep up.
The Changing Face of Small Businesses
Small businesses are no longer exclusively brick-and-mortar stores with Gen X or Boomer owners. The face of small business is:
- Getting younger: Millennials recently bypassed the Boomers as the largest generation. This group ranges in age from late teens to mid-thirties, a prime age for starting a new business.
- More digitally savvy: Millennials embrace technology and insist that they do business with follow suit.
- Comfortable doing it alone: The Great Recession weakened Millennial job prospects. In response, many chose to go into business for themselves or to embrace the rising gig economy. Many run businesses that are one-person operations, and they plan to keep it that way.
What Does That Mean for the Accounting Field?
You need to figure out the cloud. Cloud computing has empowered everyone to do business from anywhere. You and your clients can access and use favorite apps like QuickBooks or Microsoft Office from anywhere via cloud hosting. Today’s clients now insist on this capability. Using cloud technology enables the sharing of data and collaborating in real time.
You need to figure out mobile. Like the cloud, your clients now expect to do nearly all of their business functions using a mobile device. Your Millennial clients are digital natives. That means they’ve never lived in a world where they couldn’t access information instantly. They will drop any accountant who doesn’t appreciate that viewpoint. How prepared are you for the mobile world? This readiness includes ensuring your website is a responsive design that functions correctly on any device from a desktop PC to a smartphone. It also means accommodating their desire for faster service and response time, and being able to advise them about mobile apps that can empower their business goals.
You need to look past your geography. Before the rise of cloud and mobile tech, bookkeeping and accounting were geography-based businesses. You pulled clients from your neighborhood and surrounding areas. Now, your clients can be located anywhere. You’re only limited by your imagination. Also, clients are becoming more nomadic. You can still work with your gig worker and solopreneur clients, even if they travel halfway around the world.
You need to get comfortable with the consulting role. Today’s small business owners aren’t looking for their bookkeepers and accountants to be form fillers. They seek business advice. Are you prepared to play an advisory role? They may look to you for tax planning, business planning, cash flow management, and even technology advice. Your clients want to see you as their advisor.
Are You Ready for Change?
Is this old news for you? Do you already operate in the cloud? Are you comfortable with the work anywhere, any time, on any device mindset?
If your answer is yes, then you’re well on your way to becoming the accounting firm of tomorrow.
If your answer is no, then the question becomes: What are you waiting for?