A culture of growth can bring many long-lasting benefits to your firm. Discover what it takes to create one.

Many accounting firms focus the most attention on the clients. This makes sense as it’s vital to keep your clients satisfied if you’re to nurture fruitful long-term relationships.

But what about your employees?

Are you doing enough to make sure that they’re happy over the long haul?

Because if you’re not, it’s a clear sign that you need to work on your company culture. 

According to a Deloitte study, both employees and executives believe that this is crucial. 94% of executives and 88% of employees said that a distinct culture plays an important role in business success. 

The same study showed that there’s a strong link between a strong culture and happy employees. A well-developed culture makes employees feel valued and appreciated, which is key to long-term success.

Because of this, a culture of growth can create a positive climate in your firm. It can be the catalyst for major changes that you can use to grow your accounting practice.

In this article, you’ll investigate the best ways to build a culture of growth. But before we get into that, let’s see what it means in the first place.

What Is a Culture of Growth?

The accounting profession is highly competitive. There are likely many firms that you have to contend with. And when you land a client, you need to do everything in your power to deliver premium services.

This makes it very easy to put most of your focus on performance. After all, there’s always a process that you can improve on.

However, this also puts you at risk of prioritizing performance and results over people. This is often referred to as a high-performance culture. 

Such a culture can bring short-term boosts in performance, but it always does more harm than good in the long run. It’s very unhealthy and almost never sustainable.

Since your company culture is a collection of values, you’ll overshadow your employees’ personal values if you only pay attention to performance. Over time, this might make your employees feel undervalued and dissociated. They won’t feel like they belong in your firm. Rather, they’ll feel like you’re using them to drive the highest possible returns.

It’s easy to see that this will affect their morale and underperformance is the result. Not only will this create a toxic work atmosphere, but you’ll have a hard time sustaining the high performance you’re looking for. 

This is why it’s crucial that you develop a growth culture. This growth applies to both your firm and your employees.

People have a need to develop themselves and evolve, which a culture of growth supports. It shows people that they can improve both personally and professionally. They’ll put in their work because they want to and not because they have to.

As a result, they’ll connect with your firm and support its growth in all areas. They’ll have the internal drive to do better work, which will translate to higher performance and results.

Our client Mackey McNeill strikes a perfect example. She built a culture of growth in her firm and the results speak for themselves.

While he was away on vacation, her team sold $54,000 in CFO financial planning and analysis (FPA). In addition, they sold $15,600 in controllership services. All of this was on top of the existing $30,000/year bookkeeping contract. 

The client relationship went up to an annual fee of $99,600, and her team did it all on its own. That’s what’s possible when people work in a growth culture.

Would you like this kind of result?

It’s possible with a culture of growth, and here are five ways to build such a culture in your firm:

1. Focus on Learning Over Talent

A high-flying accounting firm needs a diverse team of people with diverse talents. This ensures top-quality services and high standards in the firm. But talent will only take you so far, especially if you take it for granted.

Not pushing people to learn will leave them in the same place regardless of talent. It’s very common for hard-workers to surpass those who rely solely on their talent.

For this reason, the first pillar of a growth culture is continuous learning and improvement. You need to support your employees’ growth, both personal and professional.

The good news is that you can do this in many different ways. From training and seminars to team building activities, you can help your people learn from one another and perform better.

2. Challenge the Status Quo

Just because something works today doesn’t mean it will continue to work tomorrow. The worst thing that you can do is to rely on the way you’ve always done things. This will only lead to stagnation and complacency.

No matter how successful you are, there’s always something that you can do to improve. And this is what you should convey to your employees.

Every once in a while, you might want to ask some of the following questions:

  • How valuable are our services?
  • How big is our niche?
  • What’s the biggest problem we solve?
  • Can we grow faster and more efficiently? If so, how?

Frequent revisits of these questions will keep your employees engaged. They’ll keep an eye out for new ways of growing your firm.

For one, our client Nancy Ward had a smashing tax season this year. Her firm’s revenue grew by $200,000 year over year and expanded the client base. They can credit this performance boost to revisiting their fees and the subsequent discovery that they should raise them.

This is only one example. Challenge the status quo with regularity and consistent growth will follow.

3. Embrace All Contributions

Building a growth culture isn’t just in the hands of the executives. Over and beyond, every employee needs to play a part. This is how you can create a culture that everybody wants to be a part of.

Your people need to know that you value their contribution. This makes them feel belonging to something bigger than themselves. They’re not working for a paycheck but to add their piece of the puzzle to the growth of the firm.

Besides, this works wonders for your employees’ happiness and confidence. And confidence is vital to both personal and professional growth.

Just look at our client Paula Field. She recently got her first niche client and sold the test run program for $2,850 per month, which gave her a big confidence boost. Realizing the program’s potential spurs her on and makes her want to develop a high-quality product for her client.

4. Stop the Blame Game

Nobody is immune to making mistakes. This is especially true in the accounting industry where human error is an overarching issue. No matter how hard you try, there’s always a chance for something to go wrong.

This applies to every person in your firm. Nobody feels good about messing up. That when you should preserve rather than shatter their confidence.

Pinning the blame on your employees will make them hesitant to report any problems that may arise. It’s only a matter of time before your business runs into a big issue that you can’t even identify.

That’s not to say that you should never point out someone’s mistakes. It’s just that you should do it in a constructive way. Make every mistake an opportunity to learn and grow. With this perspective, your people will feel a lot more encouraged to participate in your growth culture.

5. Encourage Controlled Experimentation

Take a look at the titans of industries and you’ll see a common thread. They all made it through unconventional, unexpected means. Innovation has always been the main driver of success across industries.

But how can your people innovate if they are under piles of monotonous work?

If you want your business to grow, you must leave people with enough room to flourish. Let them experiment with new processes and ways of improving your services. You never know when an idea can turn into a competitive advantage.

Obvious, you’re not going to just let people create chaos. This is why you should still have a degree of control over their creative processes. But as long as you encourage innovative thinking, you’ll boost your firm’s chances of making smart and unique decisions.

In Celebration of Growth

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what a culture of growth looks like. As you can see, it can bring a plethora of benefits and help your business to grow more rapidly. It can improve your practices and assist you in your quest to provide your clients with premium-quality services.

Make sure that everyone participates in the company culture, with the freedom to contribute to it and voice their opinions. It’s the best way to create an atmosphere in which everyone can flourish.