Firm of the Future Profiles: CSP & Associates
Today, we are speaking with Christina Sevilla Pena of CSP & Associates, a runner up of the 2017 Global Firm of the Future contest. Read more to learn about Christina’s journey and what makes CSP & Associates a Firm of the Future.
Mindy King: Congratulations on being a runner up in the 2017 Global Firm of the Future contest! Tell us about yourself and your business, and what makes your business a Firm of the Future.
Christina Sevilla Pena: I’ve been in the industry since 2001 and opened my business in 2006. I started my business to help people get their financials together and save money with better bookkeeping. Our firm is a Firm of the Future because we’re paperless, in the cloud, use QuickBooks Online, and try to use as many apps as possible to help automate tasks and run our business efficiently, seamlessly and to just get things done! Personally, I’m a mom of two girls and a wife. I’m from San Diego, Calif., originally and studied accounting at San Diego State University.
MK: What’s on the horizon for your firm in 2018?
CSP: This is going to be a big year for us. We’re revamping some things and focusing on getting more clients, using technology smarter to automate more tasks and also hiring more employees.
MK: What’s the most unexpected place you have ever worked?
CSP: When I was having my first daughter, I was actually on my phone working at the hospital!
MK: What apps do you typically use? Any you recommend as a must have?
MK: About how much time would you say apps and cloud-based technologies save you/your business?
CSP: I would guess maybe 20 hours a week – which is huge.
MK: How does your firm use social media to its advantage?
CSP: We’ve found social media is a great way to get our message across. The top two platforms we use the most are LinkedIn and Facebook, and a little on Twitter. We’ve often found people come to our Facebook page to see our reviews, and in general, social media really helps with word-of-mouth marketing.
MK: For accounting firms not yet using social media, what would your advice be for them to take the first step?
CSP: I would tell them they should get on the train! Social media is a great way to grow your firm – clients love the interaction and seeing that you’re present on social. It makes your firm more relevant.
MK: How do you balance between marketing your firm and run-the-business type work?
CSP: First and foremost, I really love and trust my team! They help me balance both the business operations side and the marketing side. Technology also really helps with marketing because you can automate so much and social media is a great way to market.
MK: What’s your advice for getting online and adopting cloud technologies?
CSP: It’s a must. When I was moving houses one year, I realized there was like 30 boxes of paperwork. That’s when I knew that if we were going to go anywhere, we had to go paperless and get in the cloud – and fast. I know a lot of people are weary or afraid, but I’d reassure them that there’s so many ways to back the data up.
MK: How would you encourage firms to employ a value-based billing model?
CSP: Personally, I feel like my business changed so much for the better when I brought in the value-based model. We get paid upfront and charge what we’re worth. When people ask why we’re not hourly or hesitate, I give them the example of a dentist. A dentist charges the same for a root canal – even if it only takes 20 minutes. You’re not paying for the time; you’re paying to get the pain taken away and there’s no price on that. My business is the same way – I’m here to take my customers’ pain points away.
MK: What future invention are you most looking forward to?
CSP: We’re a QuickBooks-only firm, so I’m always looking forward to any innovations QuickBooks has. It’s always exciting when QuickBooks Online Accountant has new features and to see how the product is evolving to make life easier for us.
MK: What’s the biggest impact you have had on a client’s small business? Any favorite client stories worth sharing?
CSP: There are so many! That’s exactly what we do here, so it’s hard to think of one that sticks out. We do a lot of tax planning, and most of the time people come to us because their books are a mess. After we clean things up, they usually save thousands.
MK: If you weren’t an accountant, what would you be and why?
CSP: I love to give back to my community and those in need, so if I wasn’t an accountant, I’d love to be a philanthropist.
MK: What advice would you give to a firm trying to transition from their old ways to become a Firm of the Future?
CSP: The best advice I can give is to focus on work/life balance. Ever since I had my girls, the need to automate, revamp and become a Firm of the Future was crucial because it saves so much time. In addition, becoming a Firm of the Future is the only way to stay ahead of the competition. It might be a little scary at first, but it’s worth it!