Thoughts on Innovation for Accountancy Firms in the New Year

steve jobs quoteI recently finished watching the film ‘Jobs‘. I plugged in my Apple earbuds, watched the film, took a few notes on my iphone, and pulled out my Macbook Air on which to type out this week’s marketing tip on innovation for accountancy firms.

Jobs is a brilliant film, and I’d highly recommend it. But the previous sentence explains why, almost better than this marketing tip could. (I’ll write it anyway, though.)

Steve Jobs was passionate about innovation. About breaking out, challenging what the world said was possible about computers. Innovators, inventors, creators – they all listen to the world saying, “But that’s how it’s done”, and disagree. Some disagree very strongly, others say nothing and let their actions speak. But they disagree – and eventually, if they’re right, the world loves them for it.

If you’re an accountant – or you work for an accountancy firm, or with accountancy firms, or even around them – please listen to this very carefully, because I would love it if it changed your business life.

Accountants don’t innovate.

It’s not seen as the job of the accountant, to think differently. To break out of the mould. You’ve got rules to follow, legislation to obey, deadlines to enforce on behalf of your client. And I’m not telling you now to begin rebelling against the legislative machine. Innovation for accountancy firms? It’s way too far out of the box.

But if you don’t listen to those who do stand out, challenge, think differently – to those who innovate – you will, absolutely will, be missing massive profits as the rest of the world innovates.

Your clients innovate.

That absolutely IS their job. They design buildings and logos. They fix plumbing. They open online shops. They craft new food groups. They deliver top class cars. They look at a black and white world and see colour, and you are there with them every step of the way.

And one thing (well, one of many things) struck me as I watched this film today.

Innovation does not allow loyalty.

At least according to the film, and I’m guessing it’s fairly accurate, Steve Jobs did not protect or help or coddle or hold fast to anyone on the innovation journey with him. He didn’t give stock options to those who started the Apple process simply because they were there at the beginning – he considered whether they were truly great, truly different. After he was cut out as CEO, he didn’t hesitate to do the same thing to someone else several years down the road. Because innovation is not interested in making people happy: it’s interested in coming up with something the world desperately wants, but it never knew it until you told them. “How will the world know they want it, if they haven’t seen what’s possible?” Jobs asked.

And all I’d like to share with you today is that our job here at the Profitable Firm is not to coddle you, or to make you feel good about yourselves as accountants. If you’re worth your salt, you are good as an accountant. You’re great at it. You help businesses all over the world (or all over your portion of the world), and your team enjoy being part of that. But you are not marketers.

And that is absolutely okay….

…because your job is not to innovate. Ours is.

So when we tell you – when I tell you – about all the coolest things that are already on the market, don’t hang your head or groan or tell yourself you’ll get around to it later. The firms of the future have already got around to it. They’re in the cloud, using Google Drive. They use Skype regularly, and live chat, and text messages to clients, and online signatures, and webinars….and all of that is not innovation. Much of it is already standard for the business world, and it’s even beginning to be standard for the profession.

I’ve been working with accountants for over fifteen years, and I remember when social media came out. I remember sitting in a room of 400 accountants, hearing the speaker say, “Get on Twitter now, you’ll be glad you did”. The four or five accountants who heard that, heard ‘innovation’, and implemented it, now have thousands of followers and a great website and the kind of clients who want to change the world. The next twenty or so accountants who got on the bandwagon fairly quickly did something similar. But the other 375 accountants who hesitated, considered, waited, looked around to see who else was holding up their hand? They’re now coming to us asking why they aren’t getting business from Twitter.

And I’ll tell you right now, Twitter will soon be old news. I don’t know what will replace it, but it’s so pervasive that I guarantee the next Steve Jobs is out there in his garage or back bedroom or forest somewhere, dreaming up something that the whole world will claim as the new wave. Facebook, though still a huge giant, is feeling the rumblings of discontent – and if there’s an innovator great enough, they could take that market space in no time.

Get your accountancy firm ahead

So if you want your firm not just to last into the next ten or twenty years, but to excel in an amazing, beautiful, innovative way, start running now. And get ahead of the bandwagon.

We can absolutely get you an amazing new website, business from social media, great videos and SEO.

Or, if you’re up for the challenge, we’d love to help you innovate.

I’ll even go further. If you have an idea, something that no other accountancy firm is doing, we’ll help you develop it. We’re up for that. I really, really hope that one or two of you read this and contact me to say, “I’m in. Here’s what I’m thinking.” Because if you do, chances are in a few years every accountancy firm around you will be doing it as well.

Bring your ideas – and let’s figure out how we can make an art form out of an accountancy firm.