This past week, I went to a conference called Deeper Weekend put on by Thriveal. The conference mainly targeted entrepreneurial CPA firm owners. There were approximately 100 attendees from all over the world who were interested in learning about how to grow and scale their CPA firms in a way that breaks the traditional CPA firm model, and instead focuses on running a CPA firm like a start up.

I first heard about Thriveal about 6 months after starting my own CPA firm. I watched a week long segment called Meet the Firms Week put on by Accountingfly, a company that matches job candidates with fresh, modern accounting and finance jobs. Jeff Phillips, the CEO of Accountingfly interviewed numerous CPAs and CPA firm owners to share their stories with college students on what it’s like to work at accounting firms.

One of those CPA firm owners was Jason Blumer, the CEO of Blumer CPAs and Founder of Thriveal. I was blown away by the interview. Jason talked about how he created a virtual CPA firm that targeted digital marketing agencies.

I remember watching Jason give the interview in his casual clothes and signature round glasses from his home office. He said “crap” a lot and completely broke the stereotypes of every CPA firm I’ve ever encountered. I realized then that I could create a CPA firm that destroyed the traditional CPA firm model that I had been exposed to for most of my career, and I was pretty damn excited about it!

Fast forward 1 year, and I would get to meet Jason Blumer and Jeff Phillips in person at Deeper Weekend.

This year’s Deeper Weekend was all about scaling and growing an entrepreneurial CPA firm using the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) described in the book Traction by Gino Wickman This particular topic and segments were lead by Jason.

The conference also featured Jeff Phillips, who talked about the Strategic Objective concept found in the book The eMyth Revisited by Michael Gerber.

Throughout all of the presentations, workshops, and discussions with other conference attendees, there were three takeaways that come to mind, which I want to highlight:

1. “CPAs could change the world if they weren’t so busy” – Jeff Phillips, CEO of Accountingfly and Publisher at Going Concern

What the hell does that mean?

It means that most CPAs are technicians and don’t have the knowledge or experience to run a CPA firm like an entrepreneurial organization. The time and priorities of most CPAs goes toward getting the client work done, especially during crunch times. Everything else comes second.

I was trained as a technician in college and all of my previous employers wanted me to focus on improving my technical skills over everything else (in addition to meeting insane chargeable hour goals, which is a topic for another day).

I’m now learning that I have to focus on far more than being a technician if I ever want to successfully scale and grow my firm. Jeff and Jason both block off one day a week on their calendar to focus solely on strategy. This was news to my ears.

2. You need to feed your business

Jason discussed that if you want to successfully grow and scale your accounting firm, you need to feed your business.

He also remarked that you need to treat your business like a separate person, and give it the additional time and care it needs to grow into a healthy organization.

This is a tough concept for a founder to swallow, because this means you have to make decisions that are best for the business, and not always based on your personal goals.

3. A community is required to thrive

The truth is that it’s tough being a CPA firm owner. There are moments of struggle all entrepreneurs face when trying to grow and scale a firm. Those thoughts of self-doubt creep in, and you wonder why the hell you decided to start a firm in the first place, what you’re going to do if you run out of money, what direction you’re even going, and so many other things.

I realized on my first day of attending Deeper Weekend that I wasn’t alone. There were at least 100 other entrepreneurial CPA firm owners in attendance that struggle with all of the same things I struggle with. They have similar fears and doubts.

I think the important thing to realize is that these are just normal thoughts that everyone has, and that they are only temporary.

I can also definitively say that my firm wouldn’t be where it is today without being a Thriveal member and being able to share my struggles with this supportive community.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my review of Deeper Weekend 2017.