Embrace change and drive efficiency to build the perfect accounting firm

When it comes to tackling today’s challenges and preparing for the future, the only direction that successful accounting firms can move is forward.

A gray concrete surface with 3 painted arrows, pointing up, left and right.

Whether it’s hiring new employees, bringing on new clients, increasing revenue per employee, or even just adapting to new trends and technologies, the ability to drive efficiency in the face of change is vital to building the perfect accounting firm.

As identified in Karbon’s Practice Excellence Assessment, efficiency is one of the primary drivers of a firm’s continual growth and improvement. 

The Practice Excellence Assessment is a 20-minute online survey designed to help accounting firms compare their business abilities to other firms across the globe. To date, more than 1,000 firms have completed the assessment, and the 2022 Practice Excellence Report is the most recent analysis of this data.

The latest insights indicate that efficiency is particularly important for smaller firms that are figuring out how to manage work, information, and clients as they grow from a sole practitioner to a boutique-sized firm.

This was true for Paula Field in the early days of Lucrum Accounting, and it continues to be true today for her team of 14 employees, who serve a clientele of attorneys and other professional services providers in Allen, Texas.

“At the core, you have to embrace change in order to constantly move forward,” she says.

Paula joined Karbon’s Director of Customer Success (APAC), Omer Khan, at the inaugural Karbon X summit, hosted at Lake Tahoe in 2022. In their discussion—part of an expert panel on building the perfect accounting firm—Paula shared how she embraces change and technology to optimize the efficiency of her firm. 

Here are some key takeaways from the session:

Consider technology as your first hire

Paula has been involved in business since she worked in her mother’s chain of Hallmark stores as a teenager. After years of on-the-job experience handling the accounting responsibilities for the family business, Paula started her CPA firm as a one-woman show. 

Even early on, she recognized the need to look beyond her own skillset to find new efficiencies for her business. As a solo practitioner, she started missing deadlines as her business grew. 

“I didn’t have anybody to help me,” she says. “I knew that I had to rely on technology to help me be efficient and not drop the ball. As we’ve grown, I knew—I know—the only way that we can be a super efficient firm is to utilize technology to help us get there.”

Make change manageable, but not optional

While Lucrum Accounting leans on technology to optimize processes across the team, Paula says she avoids banging a steady drumbeat of ‘we can always do better.’

“At some point, your team gets really tired of always having to improve,” she says, “but if you take it one step at a time and always have a goal of what you want to improve on next season, it makes it more manageable.”

Setting the objective of operating better year after year enables the team to try new things and offers a comparison to measure what works and what doesn’t.

But in order for newly optimized processes and structures to work, team members also have to be willing to embrace change. A key turning point for Paula’s firm was letting go of employees who were not willing to adapt to new programs—a difficult but necessary move that allowed the firm to move forward.

Once we got through that and hired people that were change-oriented and change-minded, it really helped the firm grow and be more successful.

Paula Field, Lucrum Accounting

Pathway to excellence

Today, Lucrum Accounting scores at the top of the Practice Excellence charts in the Efficiency Pillar. Paula and her team have reached that level of proficiency by:

  • Embracing the constancy of change through adapting to new technologies and processes

  • Taking manageable steps toward improved efficiency, like setting goals for each year or each tax season

  • Assembling a team that is change-oriented and willing to buy in to new, more efficient processes

Let efficiency drive your firm to new levels of success, no matter what changes come your way.