Strategic Partner Retreats … It All Starts with a Vision

We just completed the first Strategic Partner Retreat as I write this. This was the first in our series of three, and was hosted in balmy Tampa, Florida. I’m happy to report that we presented to a room full of firm partners and several of their trusted administrators—all eager to learn how to elevate their firms to Next Generation Accounting Firm status.

Over the course of a day and a half, we discussed the processes and challenges to building a Next Generation Accounting Firm within a peer-supportive and highly interactive forum. Participants were active with their questions, concerns, challenges and, in many cases, insecurities, about how to move their firms forward given the environment we live in. Overall, we focused on strategy to get firms going.

Randy Johnston and I took turns facilitating the different sections during the two-day event. The following is a list of the big takeaways that I believe will be helpful for you:

  • Vision Challenged — Most firms, and I see in firms across the country, have not taken the time to define exactly what they want from their businesses. The fact is that more than 90% of firms in the U.S. are small firms, and the partners within these firms continue to “just do their thing” each day with no clear vision on where they want their business to go.

Michael Gerber, author of the popular E-Myth book, talks about the E-Myth Five Core Principles. At the heart of these principles is LIFE: “The principle that your business should be a way to get more of what you want out of life … a vehicle through which you gain personal and financial freedom.” Unfortunately, too many firms are not living by the LIFE principle. They like what they do for a living, but not the way they do it.

  • Software Direction — Partners lacking a clear direction on where they want their businesses to go tend to select software with no clear understanding of how all the pieces and parts fit together. For example, if firm leaders wish to provide a certain level of client service, they might indicate: “We believe that the information we create for our clients should be available anytime, anywhere and on any device.” However, if their vision for how to offer this level of service is unclear, often they will select technology that does not work together—such as a document management system that does not integrate with their portal solution.
  • Firm Infrastructure — Many of the firms we see are really struggling with the decision of whether to move to the cloud, stay on premise, or go with a hybrid. This is not an easy issue to solve. And it’s even more difficult to solve if you have no idea about what your firm infrastructure should look like.

This is just a sampling of the many topics covered in our Strategic Partner Retreats. Randy and I lead these events and do our best to help firms develop the key components they need to advance their firms. It’s important to understand that advancing one’s firm is not an event; it’s a process. And it’s a process that is ongoing and requires thoughtful focus and help from those who have already been down this road and found success.

There are still two Strategic Partner Summits on the calendar. Don’t miss the opportunity to see how your firm can reach Next Generation status. For more information, check out our website at and register today.


Darren is the Executive Editor of CPA Practice Advisor. He remains in public practice as the principal of Root & Associates, LLC, in Bloomington, Indiana, and is president of his consulting practice, RootWorks. He formerly served on the Board of the AICPA’s CITP Credentials Committee and is a former member of the Board of Directors for the Indiana CPA Society. He speaks at dozens of professional organizations each year and frequently serves as a guest lecturer at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.