- Chartered accountants in regional areas can overcome isolation by connecting with industry initiatives such as CA Catalyst online
- Video conferencing helps build business relationships with face-to-face meetings
- Embracing digital – and going paperless – also helps regional businesses serve more clients
- Social media channels are excellent for connecting with startups – Instagram is surprisingly good for building relationships
Accountants working in the heart of the city have plenty of opportunities to attend networking events where they can build skills, learn from their peers and connect with potential clients. For Stacey Price from Healthy Business Finances in Ballarat, being based in a regional area makes networking a little more challenging.
Though by getting ahead of the curve to adopt digital opportunities, she's building a successful accounting practice in regional area, with the work-life benefits to match.
"Living in Ballarat we don't have a lot of events here in the accounting space I can attend, so online learning is the ultimate," says Price. "I found Catalyst on Facebook through the Chartered Accounting forums. Catalyst has some great online content and they're doing some workshops and webinars as well." And because so much of the content is on-demand online, she can catch up on a webinar at night after enjoying time with her family or log in at lunchtime and do a one hour training session.
Video conferencing and digital office technologies are game changers
Over the past six years, Price has gone from running a business that was very traditional in its modes of operation to one that has cleverly adopted digital opportunities to spread its wings far beyond the regional centre where she lives.
"Six years ago I'd never used Skype, never used Zoom (video conferencing), never used cloud accounting software," says Price. "We now run a paperless office. We don't have a head office. Location used to be a barrier, now it's opened up a whole range of opportunity for us to work with not only the best employees but also the best clients too."
"We don't have a head office. Location used to be a barrier, now it's opened up a whole range of opportunity for us to work with not only the best employees but also the best clients too."
Working with startups? Embrace social media to build relationship
Price says she now finds around half of her business through their engagement with social media on Facebook and Instagram.
"Our clients are startups. All of them are on Facebook and Instagram so I actively made the decision that we needed to be on there to try and get ourselves in front of them."
Yet even with clients from the progressive startup domain, Price still finds there's a lot of training in how to manage their business digitally, helping them to find the best way to overcome some very traditional accounting anxieties.
"Quite often people will come to us and say 'I hate bookkeeping, I hate dealing with my numbers' and that's not actually the problem. The problem they hate is the paper because they can see it, and as soon as they look at a pile of receipts it causes them stress," Price says.
"We drill down to that level, and go 'What if we could take that away? What if we could give you an app or an accounting software where you could take a photo on your smartphone and you could literally put that piece of paper away and you don't have to look at it again?' The look on people's face when they realise it's that easy.
That shift away from the piles of paper to cloud accounting has helped Price to ensure that Healthy Business Finances is delivering advice that helps clients in close to real-time.
"A lot of clients previously would have waited 12 months, brought in a box of receipts and look back at the previous 12 months," says Price. "Now we can say 'For May your sales have gone up 10%. What have you done, where have you gone, what's made that change?'"
"We're not looking backwards, we're predicting what's going to happen in the next two to three months."
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