Highlights and Key Takeaways from GrowCon 2023


GrowCon is an annual conference where accounting professionals dedicate time to working ON their business. Organized by Universal Accounting Center, this conference provides unmatched expertise on starting, growing and sustaining a successful accounting firm.


This year’s conference was held at Mountain America Museum of Ancient Life in Lehi, Utah, on May 8 and 9. 


Attendees listened to presentations from leaders across the industry, sharpened their skills with workshops, and networked with other professionals in their field.


In this article, we’ll look at some of the key concepts covered at this year’s conference.


Attracting Clients Using Google Business

Building an eye-catching marketing strategy is crucial for accounting business, but nothing is more important for attracting clients than being found on Google, said Christian Jones, CEO of TaxProMarketing.


“No matter what emails you write, what’s on your website or on your Facebook page, if people can find you, it doesn’t matter,” Jones said in his presentation.


Jones shared strategies for “dominating your local area” on Google without paying to launch your business to the top of search rankings through advertising.


To get the best position you can for your business without paying, there are three key areas to prioritize: 


  1. Backend search engine optimization elements. This is essentially using highly searched keywords in meta descriptions and SEO titles – really in anything you build on your site that people don’t see.
  2. Upgrading and updating the content on your site. Uniqueness is really attractive to Google, Jones said, so making impactful, new content focused on keywords regularly is massive.
  3. Optimize for engagement. Google measures how people click and engage with your site, Jones said, and the algorithm wants to promote sites that easily show people what to click on after they arrive.


Jones also emphasized the importance of updating your company’s Google Business page. There are a number of categories and other fields you need to fill out to get ranked on Google.


Becoming Your Clients’ Trusted Advisor

Small business owners don’t really have many people who they can talk with about the challenges their business is facing. Employees can’t empathize with their concerns. Bookkeepers only look at the business’ past, and bankers don’t understand business strategy.


So who can they turn to? With Adam Lean and Jeff Prager’s The CFO Project, it could be you.


“Business owners crave direction,” Prager said in his presentation. Bookkeepers often provide direction with data, but that’s not what business owners want. The best advisors are those who can tell business owners what they need to do in terms they can easily understand.


Prager and Lean developed The CFO Project to give accountants the proper tools they need to guide a business toward growth. All it takes is a desire to help businesses and a financial background.


Making Magic with Social Media

We all use social media for about two hours a day anyway, so why not use that time to elevate your business and attract high ticket clients? That’s what Alyssa J. Dillon, founder of Moneymaker Maven, pitched attendees at the conference.


She boiled the social media experience down to these three steps: 1. Do cool things to help cool people. 2. Talk about the cool things and the cool people you helped online. 3. Repeat.


Dillon uses the acronym M.A.G.I.C. (My Authenticity Gets Ideal Clients) as a mantra to rely on as she creates her posts. Clients are most likely to want to work with people they see themselves in, and there’s no better way to present your authenticity than using social media.


In Dillon’s experience, most accounting professionals set goals that are easily attainable. She challenged attendees to double their goals, because when you aim higher, even if you don’t reach your goal, you’ll be higher up than you ever anticipated.


Reframing Life’s Challenges to Start an Accounting Business

Teena Chandler had always been interested in numbers. She remembered telling her mom that she wanted to be a bookkeeper when she was 10-years-old, but as she got older, her life became too busy to pursue her childhood goal.


Her past was full of reasons why she shouldn’t try to become a bookkeeper, Chandler said. Raised in rural Utah, Chandler hated door-to-door salesmen and couldn’t imagine herself selling her services. She grew up with parents who had been through the Great Depression and preached against perceived risky financial decisions like starting a business.


Chandler let those challenges become excuses in her life, along with many more. She found herself feeling unfulfilled and without confidence as an adult. Still, she felt the pull of wanting to start her own accounting business, but only after she, “had all of her ducks in a row,” Chandler told the audience.


Chandler brought a backpack full of rocks to her presentation to represent these excuses she made. Everything changed for her in her life when she reframed how she saw those challenges from “excuses” to “realities.” She took responsibility for the obstacles she’d have to overcome, and decided to carry them with her on the way to her goal, like rocks in a backpack.


“There are days that the best I can do is just show up, even if I bring along all the weight of my realities. I still show up. And that is enough,” Chandler said.


After she discovered Universal Accounting Center, she started to pass off those burdens onto Universal’s team of expert coaches. She had no idea how to run a business, but had Universal Accounting President Roger Knecht at her side helping shoulder the burden. She felt “yucky” about sales, but Vice President of Enrollment Clay Neves helped her reframe how she thought of selling to help her focus on the ability she’d have to give clients what they desperately need.


Now, she runs a successful accounting firm. She said she was amazed at the help she received from UAC coaches.


Being vs. Doing. How to Scale Your Business Intentionally

What is the difference between being and doing? Michelle Quinonez, CEO of MR Books Advisory, said it’s a crucial question to consider for your business and for yourself.


Being, in this context, is not about the verb, but rather the noun – who you are, and what you desire. It’s about asking and answering the question “How?” Doing, on the other hand, is more about answering “Why?”


You should have inwardly focused goals for yourself and the business. Lifestyle and personal goals you want to achieve, like financial freedom, more free time, leaving a legacy or helping people, Quinonez said.


But it’s equally important to look outward and see the value in providing good outcomes for your employees, customers, community and the industry as a whole.


Quinonez shared valuable insights for making the most of your time as an accounting business owner. She recommended time blocking and setting your phone silent mode so you’ll only use it when you intentionally decide to.


Embracing Cloud Technology

Change is hard. But not changing will be harder, said Kellie Parks with Cloud Accounting Resources. Instead of fearing change, you have to embrace it to stay ahead.


Embracing change doesn’t just mean automating everything, Parks said. She recommends building out your processes and developing backup plans for them if they don’t work out. That should definitely involve some automation, but on your terms.


“Accountants who don’t change won’t be replaced by AI,” Parks said. “But they will be replaced by accountants who embrace AI.”


She encouraged attendees to adopt a “leap of faith” mentality and review their processes to look for ways they could be optimized using cloud based technology.

Takeaways from Other Amazing Speakers

Mike Milan shared his journey from state trooper to leading business advisor with his proven tools for increasing cash flow in businesses. Milan emphasized the importance of speaking in plain language when consulting your clients. Milan has also developed a number of tools for improving a business’ cash flow. Learn more on his website.


Randy Crabtree, Co-Founder & Partner at Tri-Merit Specialty Tax Professionals, shared ways to save money on taxes for clients through recently passed environmentally focused building code legislation.


Robyn Mons, a Life Coach who works with Universal Accounting Center to help professionals start their own businesses, talked about the importance of learning to recover after failure. Failure is only natural, she said. Everyone encounters it at some point in their life, but we still tend to allow failure to contaminate our self-perception. Growth, decay, and rebirth form the natural cycle of life in nature. She recommends avoiding indulging in perfectionism. Your business does not require that you execute perfectly.


Troy Ballard, owner of MTB Services Etc, LLC, shared her experience learning the Universal Accounting Center trainings and building a successful accounting firm with her experience. She emphasized the importance of building solid relationships with clients by communicating directly and regularly.


Alicia Katz Pollock, who runs QuickBooks Online training programs at Royalwise.com, shared a number of useful tips for using QBO. 


Tanisha Waddell, Ceo of TLH Financial, LLC, told the audience about her life changing experience learning from Universal Accounting Center’s coaches. She’s built a booming accounting business over the last 10 years, and emphasized the importance of selling clients on the power of the problem being solved. They don’t care as much about your qualifications as much as your ability to help them in their time of need.


Liz Szporn, with Profit First Professionals, spoke on the power of not being a “normal” accountant by being able to offer advisory services. Good advisors future proof their clients business as much as they can be, Szporn said, and noted that profit margins for firms that added advisory services increased massively after the COVID-19 pandemic surfaced.


Positions are filling up quickly for GrowCon 2024 in Jacksonville, Florida. Sign up now for special pre-conference bonuses to get the expertise you need to take your accounting business to a new level.

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