A Journey to Becoming a Firm of the Future
Jessica started Xcelerate, a virtual accounting firm, when her family needed to raise $10,000 for an adoption. She soon found herself managing too many clients on her own, and began to hire dedicated stay-at-home moms to join her efforts.
Jessica shared the key strategies she used, which led to Xcelerate becoming a Firm of the Future.
What Does it Mean to be a Firm of the Future?
For Jessica, being a Firm of the Future is all about collaborating with your clients, caring for your clients and using online tools to change the way you do business. She says accounting is no longer about grabbing the data, or about how much number crunching you can do.
“Accounting is more about how you partner with your business owner and getting excited when they grow – when they grow, you grow,” she says.
The key to being a Firm of the Future is really to be a true partner and care for your clients, and about doing that really well.
How Technology Helped Xcelerate Transform
The Xcelerate team make the most of technology to help them serve their clients and operate efficiently, but it wasn't all smooth sailing. They started using four or five different apps at once, which was a huge undertaking and really took its toll on the team.
Jessica wouldn’t suggest trying to do it all at once like they did. Instead, she says to adopt one app at a time and do it really well – choose one a month or one a quarter.
Xcelerate started with Karbon, T-Sheets and Fathom, which Jessica describes as being pivotal to helping the firm change the way it does business. She discovered some of these transformative apps at last year’s Firm of the Future Roadshow.
“We met some awesome, key people in that meeting, and they said you need to be using these things. We knew right away that they were the type of business that we want to be like, so we went away and we did it.”
Technology has enabled Xcelerate to be a Firm of the Future winner because to them, it’s all about business and personal lifestyle.
“It’s not about going to an office and getting a big box of receipts. You share your heart with your client and your client shares their heart with you.”
“Your client is in it to make money, but they’re also in it to get off the treadmill, and let the business work for them. You want your company to run without you, and that’s what we’re helping our clients do. It’s more of a coaching and consulting piece now.”
How Do They Make Sure They are Rewarded?
As Xcelerate improved its efficiencies, the firm did not see rewards right away, which led to a lot of tears and pain. Jessica describes this as being stuck by the hour; the more efficient she became, the less money she made, which was extremely hard and demotivating for her.
After some tears had been shed, her husband and business partner, Greg, suggested charging by the month or project instead. This triggered a big turn of fortune.
Xcelerate has nine stay-at-home moms on staff, and Greg’s idea was transformative for them, as well as the business. Jessica describes having to stop the clock to handle her children’s needs, and then start the clock again … or checking email from one client and then receiving a phone call from another. Jessica felt this was a constant unfairness that she didn't want to deal with, so moving to a value pricing model signaled a huge transformation.
"Whether it takes me five hours or 15, I am rewarded for my efficiencies and so is my team.”
Strategies like these, and Jessica and her team’s willingness to work hard and explore new technology, help Xcelerate reinforce its status as a true Firm of the Future.