Sights, Sounds, and Lessons from GrowCon 2024

GrowCon2024 Gala Event and Awards 41

At Universal Accounting Center, we live by the mantra “Your success is our success.” Part of our ongoing mission to empower accounting professionals is GrowCon, an annual conference for owners of bookkeeping, tax preparation, and CFO/advisory businesses. The yearly conference is an unmatched opportunity to learn from leaders in the industry, network with fellow accounting business owners, and dedicate time to actually working ON the business.

This year’s version of the conference was held on May 5 and 6 at the Southbank Hotel in beautiful Jacksonville, Florida. Attendees were enriched by presentations from some of the brightest minds in accounting, including Mark J. Kohler, Terrell Turner, Heather Hurst, and Universal Accounting Center President Roger Knecht.

Over 200 professionals joined in the event, both in person and via a first-time ever virtual simulcast of the presentations. The accounting business owners in attendance raved about the experience, from the lessons shared by presenters, to the gala event, to the VIP events before the conference officially began.

“There were so many times where it seemed like the speaker was giving advice directly to me,” one attendee said. “I am so excited to get home and get to work.”

Pre-Con VIP Experience

Part of what makes GrowCon special is the organizers’ special emphasis on making the experience enjoyable beyond the typical conference offerings.

“I’ve travelled all over for business conferences,” Knecht told the audience of attendees. “But oftentimes, all I’d get to see while traveling for these event was the airport and the hotel where it was being held. That’s why we like to give you the opportunity to do a little sight seeing while you travel for work.”

Many accounting business owners don’t get many opportunities to relax and let their hair down. That’s the goal of the Pre-Con V.I.P. Experience.

Attendees who sign up for the V.I.P. package arrive the weekend before the conference, and gather with members of Universal Accounting’s team for a weekend full of fun.

In Jacksonville, V.I.P.s enjoyed an airboat wildlife tour through the swamps, filled up on downhome southern barbeque, and ended the night with a special dinner and a show event.

“Pre-Con is definitely the way to go,” said Andrea Walker. “There’s so many unique opportunities to get to know people and enjoy yourself before the conference.”

Presentations from the Industry’s Best

The meat and potatoes of GrowCon is obviously the presentations from accounting experts. Jacksonville native and CEO of Growth Amplifiers, Kenny Harper, was the first to address the audience, and he gave a powerful presentation on how to authentically attract and enroll more clients.

“Small hinges open big doors,” Harper admonished the audience.

Highly respected founding and senior partner of KKOS Lawyers, Mark J. Kohler, shared a number of specific insights firm owners can use to save their clients money come tax season next. Kohler named 5 strategies that every accounting professional needs to know in order to “wow” their clients: using a “trifecta” framework with clients, capitalizing on S-corporations, real estate losses, using boards of directors and advisors, and self-directing real estate for retirement savings.

The strategies he shared were all practical and applicable without scores of legwork, both for accounting business owners and their clients.

David Safeer, founder of Cash is Clear Learning Systems, highlighted some of the common misconceptions that businesses fall into when they’re facing cash flow problems. Many of the common strategies the internet presents for improving cash flow actually make the problem worse, Safeer said.

Terrell Turner, founder of TL Turner Group, shared a powerful model for measuring and improving the performance of employees at the firm called “The Golden AGE Model.” Essentially, you grade employees on a three point scale: “Average,” “Good,” and “Excellent.” When everyone achieves at an “average” level, the company will reach its goals. Employees have a lot going on in their life that can affect performance. Turner’s model encourages the employees to not overextend themselves when real life come calling, and rewards them for excelling when the moment is right.

The conference featured a number of great insights on how to make the most of your business as an asset. Renowned financial literacy expert Adam Carroll outlined a model for growing wealth outside of your business called the Shred Method. This is a process of shifting habits outside of the business in order to view it as an asset that the owner will eventually sell. It’s also crucial to attack debt in a comprehensive way, Carroll said, in order to increase your own cash flow and allow you as a business owner to build wealth.

Attendees were also delighted with the stylings of productivity and technology expert Vanessa Vasquez. Vasquez shared a number of practical software and other resources for making an accounting firm more efficient, and encouraged the audience to embrace technological change in their business, including when it comes to automation.

Resources Designed to Take Your Firm to New Heights

A key element of GrowCon outside of the presentations themselves were the sponsors, who each offered valuable resources for the owners of bookkeeping, tax preparation and accounting businesses in attendance during lunch time, breaks, and other free periods.

In these pauses, attendees browsed the booths of the different sponsors. The professionals in attendance received a passport at the start of the event that they took with them to each of the booths, where the sponsor would give them a sticker for learning more about their services. If attendees collected stamps from all 13 sponsors, they were entered into an end-of-event raffle, with a range of fantastic prizes given out from the sponsors, including a Smart TV, a drone, a $200 Amazon gift card, and Apple Airpod headphones. Let’s take a moment to highlight our sponsors and the valuable resources they offered to attendees.

Anchor is an autonomous billing and collections service that makes proposals, invoices, and payments easy to manage. They presented a tech demo of their services on Day 2, showing off their powerful dashboard for tracking finances with clients. Their system allows accounting business owners to easily create a library of their accounting services to quickly make proposals, makes signs documents from any device easy, and harnesses the power of automated invoicing. Learn more about how to use Anchor here.

Nine Two Media makes the process of finding ideal leads for accounting, CFO, and tax firms easier using the power of LinkedIn. This company finds prospective leads on LinkedIn, calls them to book an initial consultation, reminds them of the meeting, and then passes the control over to the firm owner to meet with the client and send a proposal. James Donovan, founder of Nine Two Media, joined a panel of analysts who answered a plethora of questions from attendees, and shared valuable insights on how to leverage social media to generate leads. Learn more about how to sign up for their services here.

The CFO Project is a turnkey, foolproof system for CPAs, accountants and bookkeepers looking to add outsourced CFO services to their arsenal. Essentially, The CFO Project provides accounting business owners with training, certifications, and resources to carry out the responsibilities of a CFO with their clients. Their system includes a powerful “scoreboard” to use in tracking the performance of key metrics, as well as a model for client acquisition that guarantees you’ll get the leads you need to meet your goals. The company’s founders, Adam Lean and Jeff Prager, spoke at GrowCon 2023. Here’s a link to more information about The CFO Project, as well as how to sign up.

Mark J. Kohler is the founder of KKOS Lawyers and developer of the Main Street Tax Pro certification course. In addition to speaking at the conference, Kohler shared a number of actionable insights with attendees. He champions alternative investing models and out of the box tax solutions designed to save the small business owners of America as much as they can each tax season. His experience, bravado, and ingenuity shined brightly throughout the conference.

Directed IRA is an investment company co-founded by Kohler that allows business owner to self-direct the earnings they receive from their retirement Roth IRA plans. Kohler noted at the conference that most investment groups put retirement funds into the same types of investments, like the S&P 500 for example. But the truth is that anyone can invest their retirement into just about anything they want. Directed IRA gives people agency over how their money is invested and allows them to capitalize on overlooked markets and opportunities.

Alpha Accounting Services provides a number of solutions in the accounting space, including full service bookkeeping, tax preparation and more. But Alpha goes beyond providing services directly to businesses, their goal is to be a trusted outsourcing partner for entrepreneurs in all industries, and especially for accounting firm owners. This includes opportunities to outsource certain tasks to overseas accounting professionals connected to Alpha Accounting Services.

Alyssa J. Dillon is an expert marketing coach and business analyst with lived experience building an accounting firm from the ground up. Dillon has developed a comprehensive model for marketing accounting services, including strategies for leveraging social media, email outreach, blogs and webinars to generate new leads. She shares life-strategies that help accountants and advisory firm owners create wealth for themselves and make a giant impact in their communities, and shared great advice to the accounting firm owners in attendance at her booth.

BooXkeeping offers outsourced bookkeeping services that can eliminate the burden of tracking expenses and keeping financial records organized. The company also provides a model for starting an accounting business through franchising, which can be an attractive model for many bookkeepers and tax preparers. Learn more about BooXkeeping and how to sign up here.

Ignite Funding offers real estate investments backed by collateral – you are the bank, earning monthly income for the use of your investment dollars. Ignite provides an alternative investment option that matches quality real estate borrowers with investors seeking capital preservation in collateralized turn-key real estate investments, while earning a 10% to 12% annualized return.

Bookkeep is a software that allows you to automatically book and reconcile selling and payment platforms. It imports that data right into your accounting software, allowing you to complete accurate daily sales and payment summaries, and more. Bookkeep integrates over 60 ecommerce and point of sale platforms, making niche platforms and multichannel selling seamless to integrate into your bookkeeping software. Vice President of Marketing & Communications Alison Ball presented at the conference on how to build resiliency in the face of change.

CLOUDIT Automation & Accounting Services delivers a seamless process that integrates the best of automation and remote staffing to revolutionize back-office operations for accounting firms. By combining the precision of automation with the expertise of remote staffing, CLOUDIT empowers your accounting firm to operate more efficiently, reduce costs, and focus on growth.

Thank you to all of the wonderful sponsors who helped make the event a boon for small business accounting firm owners. A special thanks as well for the items they donated for the raffle at the end of the event. What a collection of resources for accounting professionals!

Celebrating the Unsung Heroes of the Accounting Industry at the GrowCon Gala

One of the most difficult parts of being a small business owner, regardless of industry, is the lack of recognition that comes for the hard work of running the business. That certainly rings true for accountants. No matter how hard a firm owner may work, they’re rarely, if ever, celebrated for the progress they led.GrowCon Gala

A major focus of GrowCon is filling that void of celebration with an Academy Awards style gala for the hard working firm owners who give so much time and effort to their business.

At the end of the first day’s presentations at GrowCon 2024, attendees gathered in the Ballroom of the Southbank hotel and were treated to dinner, live entertainment, and award presentations. Universal Accounting Center President Roger Knecht and Event Director, Christi Richards, handed out 28 awards in total to attendees for their performance at their business in 2023.

The awards range from the fastest completion of Universal Accounting online courses, to best logo, to most improved business. Congratulations to the award winners. For a full list of the award winners, click here.

Getting Ready for GrowCon 2025

GrowCon 2025 will be held in Provo, Utah, from May 5 to 7 at the Utah Valley Convention Center. Marriott Provo will be the host hotel for the event.

To learn more and register for this can’t miss event for owners of accounting businesses, follow this link.

The lineup of speakers will include experts in tax planning, business development, and client advisory services. Check out highlights from previous GrowCons for free here.

For more information on how you can start your own accounting business and be recognized at GrowCon 2025, call 435-344-2060, or schedule an appointment online to discuss your future when it’s convenient for you using this calendar:

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