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Conversations can make all the difference in the world.  

There are conversations that can change your perspective or conversations that freak you out so much you walk away and put your head back in the sand.

It’s been a few years since I’ve attended the last SleeterCon. Five years to be exact, though I have followed along virtually.

Back then, it was before Xero had walked onto the scene and morphed this once QuickBooks-centric conference to more of a generally accepted accounting software conference. It was good to be back and reconnect with some old friends and make some new friends, too.

One of the conversations I had with an “old-school” small firm owner was about a start-up bookkeeping/technology company called inDinero. While we were standing in the booth with some software company representatives, the partner kept gushing about inDinero.

It turns out, the back story on inDinero is that Jessica Mah, the founder, made cloud accounting software, couldn’t sell enough of it, and as a result added a service component to her business model realizing it’s a lot easier to sell accounting and tax services as a complete package instead of just cloud accounting software.    

My new friend was in awe of this company and appeared a little threatened by the new cloud accounting (outsourced accounting and tax) business model, as well.  

What really irked me was that I told him he could do the same thing. But he didn’t believe me.

He didn’t believe he could purchase third-party accounting software and sell his services the exact same way.

My firm does exactly that.

You know me - I’m all about teaching the profession how they can change. 

But he kept telling me he couldn’t.  

Then I think I might have freaked him out.

I told him instead of being threatened by inDinero, he should be more concerned about all the “new firm” owners who have adopted the same business model without writing any software. Many of them were even attending the conference - one of whom was all about tech and the web but more interestingly, a second woman tax manager who had snuck a new way of working with clients through the firm’s back door. By this I mean, she made a list of all her clients who had horrific QuickBooks files and after tax season she converted these clients into a cloud product, leading and teaching them along the way. They just use one of the more proficient cloud vendors as their technology backend. She’s not alone; soon there will be thousands more firm owners like this on the scene as well.   

But it’s the stubborn mindset of the partner I was talking to that confuses me.

He obviously thought Mah had a great idea that impressed him. Yet, when offered the same opportunity (aka buy the software from sales reps in the booth), he shook his head and said this product wasn’t for him.

Where do we as a profession go from here? How do we start making this change happen faster? Here we have this partner at this technology conference standing in the booth, in awe of the new business model, yet for whatever reason, he didn’t believe he or his firm could make the change.

My advice to my new friend is simple: Get out of the technology features and instead let’s change the conversation to practice management.

After all, that’s what the radicals have figured out.

Jody L. Padar, CPA, MST, is the CEO and Principal at New Vision CPA Group and author of The Radical CPA at theradicalcpa.com