What do top growth leaders do to enhance the sustainability of growth within a firm? While firms are seeing growth organically and through merger and acquisition, it is organic growth that is imperative to long-term success. If you understand what it takes to drive this growth, your firm can achieve year-over-year revenue increases.
Earlier today I participated on a panel discussion on this very topic as part of the Association for Accounting Marketing and AICPA’s Growing Your Practice webcast series. Fellow presenters included Lori Colvin of Armanino and Chuck Ludmer of CohenReznick. A wide range of topics were discussed including the leadership and culture of a firm, the team and training needed, infrastructural resources and synergies between marketing and sales.
The following are a few themes that came out of this session that are important to maintaining long-term growth success:
- Firm leaders need to demonstrate the importance of growth. Growth stems from support from the top down. This requires a vision, but also the ability to share that vision with others in a way that excites them about the future.
- You need a culture in your firm where growth is embraced by all. Think of growth as a team sport; everyone should work together for the betterment of the firm. Strategy may be set by partners in the firm, but everyone can, and should, help implement.
- Be open when communicating growth plans to your team. Too many firms want to keep secret what they are doing. That’s actually detrimental to getting your team engaged. In the absence of communication, they will make up their own stories. Share that you want to grow, where that growth will come from and what this means to them.
- Provide needed training to make people successful. This could be technical or soft skills training, but your people must have the skills needed to do their jobs. One of the most impactful trainings is firm-wide sales training. If everyone in the firm understands how to sell the same way, they can work better together and increase your odds for success.
- Understand the marketing resources you need. Every firm markets regardless of its size. In some cases that may be an outsourced function. For larger firms, it involves hiring people with the skill set you need. Not all marketers are created equal and they are very specialized today. Pick what’s most important to your firm and find the people who can help in those areas.
- Technology is driving growth today. There is so much new marketing technology today that it’s hard to keep up. Recognize that technology can make your efforts more effective by automating parts of the process, providing more specialized customer data, helping you reach more people and much more.
- Marketing and business developers have to work together. Whether the business developer in your firm is a professional sales person or a partner/consultant, these individuals have a wealth of information that must be communicated to marketing. They then work together to make sure you’re going to market with the right strategy, messaging and positioning.
- Innovation will drive future growth. Growth is not going to come from basic compliance services unless you innovate to increase profitability. You can also experience growth by developing new advisory services, whether new to you or the entire marketplace. Either way, you need a way to encourage, vet and implement innovation.
Growth is a team effort—lead from the top with everyone participating. If your team members understand what you are aiming to accomplish, they can see what their roles are in the process. You have to evaluate your resources and invest accordingly to create a foundation from which growth can flourish. With a solid infrastructure, you can drive growth for years to come.
Interested on learning more about growing your practice? There are four more parts of this webcast series. For information on the other topics, check out the AICPA-AAM Growing Your Practice Webcast Series.
We can help you develop a sustainable growth foundation. Contact us to learn how.