A Productivity in Practice Feature
From the April/May 2011 Issue
In economic climates such as this, when jobs are somewhat scarce, markets are in flux and retirement can seem so far away, it’s natural for some to cling to what levels of stability they have, whether it’s Linus and his “security blanket,” or a comfortably permanent job as an in-house accountant for a large organization.
But others, especially those endowed with the entrepreneurial spirit, often can see through temporary uncertainties in the financial forecast to potentials that can take them further and lead them to greater success. Philadelphia’s Scott Kregel is just such a person.
At the peak of the recession in 2009, having served as the director of finance and operations for the large (3,000+ member) Calvary Church (www.calvary-church.com), this CPA saw the opportunity to open his own practice, Kregel & Company CPA (www.kregel-cpa.com), with specialization in tax planning and business advisory services for professional service businesses and organizations equally committed to doing good in their sphere of influence.
During his six years at Calvary, Scott managed all financial and administrative functions of the church by providing staff leadership and management in the areas of finance, human resources, building operations, construction management and stewardship/fundraising, which included an $11 million capital campaign. Prior to joining the church’s staff, Scott worked as a tax manager at Kreischer Miller (www.kmco.com), one of the largest full-service accounting practices in the Philadelphia area.
Scott was already a member of the church, but it was the experience he gained while at this large practice that first drew the attention of Calvary’s leadership, which offered him the position on April 16 in 2003.
“Although Pastor Meredith had offered me the position earlier, when he asked again it felt like the right time,” Scott said. “It seemed like a good thing to do, with the opportunity to help others and work closely with people on things that are important to them.” When he took the position, he also kept his hand in the public accounting space, retaining a few private clients for which he continued to provide tax and business consulting.
By 2009, Scott had the urge to once again return to public practice full-time, but this time on his own terms. And he found that not only was he ready, but he also had the passion, commitment and confidence s to open his own firm. The question, however, was how to go about it. Should he purchase a practice or build one? While Scott could have pursued acquisition opportunities with small firms, he discounted that method in favor of starting with a blank client roster and building from there.
“If an existing practice is bought out, it’s likely being purchased from a professional who is looking to retire, which means that the firm likely has older technologies and workflow practices,” Scott noted. “It also means that the clients are likely to be accustomed to those workflows. But if you have the mindset for building a practice, you can instead invest that financial and emotional capital into building one that meets your idea of what your practice should be, including choosing the types of clients you want. And this is critical if you’re looking for businesses managed by younger, more tech-savvy people.”
Of course, there’s also the matter of sweat equity, since as the founder of the firm, drumming up clients would fall squarely on his back. While his professional networking skills brought some businesses to his door, he also relied upon technology to help position his new practice. This included social media like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but he says that developing a technology strategy was a core component of the firm’s ability to achieve early success.