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The Three Pillars of Growth

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In 2007, 2008, and 2013, BRW nominated Chan & Naylor is Australia’s fastest-growing accounting practice. In 2013 alone Chan % Naylor grew by 42.8% to $18.6m revenue. 

 

How was Chan & Naylor able to grow so fast, more than doubling in size in one year? We followed the three pillars to growing a successful Accounting firm.

 

The three pillars are as follow:

 

Pillar # 1   Team Structure

You must put the ideal team structure in place to manage the traffic flow of your business. There are two traffic flows – communication traffic and production traffic.

Communication and production traffic require two different types of individuals. It is difficult to find somebody who can manage both traffic flows. Somebody who is good at production traffic is usually not so good at communication and vice versa. 

There are very few superstars and the few that are out there are very expensive to retain so stop dreaming of them.

Separate the traffic flow and then put the right person into the right seat on the right bus. You start out doing everything but as you grow, you need to withdraw and replace yourself with the right person for that particular division of the business.

 

Pillar # 2    Systems and Processes

You must get your systems and processes right. For example, getting the right software package to do the work, but that is only the start. Success lies in how you put them together.

Document your systems and processes. Review them regularly and look for efficiency. There is always potential for more streamlining.

Managing traffic flow is the most important one. If you do not have processes and systems to manage the traffic flow, it will drown you. 

In an accountancy practice, there is a huge amount of traffic. It consists of communication traffic things like emails, phone calls meetings and people expect you to add value to them. And it consists of production traffic, doing the work, BAS, tax returns, etc. Managing these traffic flows is what kills accountancy practices. 

 

Pillar # 3   Leadership

Leadership is the third pillar and the hardest part. Leading people is hard. But if you don’t lead and train your people to lead, then your practice won’t go beyond a $1m per partner. You can get to a $1m per partner with systems, processes, team structure, and brute force, but you can’t go significantly beyond that without leadership.

If you look at the BRW Top 100 accounting firms. Very few pass $1m per partner. Their strategy of growth is to bring in more partners.

The problem with this model is that growth is based on people and not on systems. Their partners are finders. A lot of firms grow by catching butterflies with a butterfly net.  But if you build a garden that attracts butterflies, then you don’t depend on those partners.

The big hurdle is cost. It costs a lot of money to build and maintain the garden, but if you do, you own it.  Partners might leave. Your garden won’t. 

Leadership brings everything together. You can put the best system into your practice, hire the best people, and build the best blueprint. But without leadership, it will just stay there. It will not go anywhere.

The role of a leader is not limited to being the Prime Minister of Australia, Captain of a sports team of CEO of an organisation. Leadership runs throughout an entire organisation – from the CEO to the receptionist who answers the phone. You need to empower all staff on all levels so that they can run the business from the bottom up – and not top-down by brute force.

If you are "at the top' you need to encourage, educate, empower, and motivate. If you have the right person in a seat, they will take that power and run with it.

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