Tim Goetz, CPA – 2015 40 Under 40 Honoree
This year’s 40 Under 40 honorees are among the best and brightest talent in the accounting profession. They are all active in the professional community, as well as in their local communities, where many are small business owners and employers.
Sep. 14, 2015
Tim Goetz, CPA – 34
Co-Founder and CEO, Aplos Software
What is the name of one book that has been a great influence to you?
5 Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni has definitely influenced how I shape the culture of our team at Aplos. I structured it as a team environment because we are better together than we are as individuals. This book showed me the importance of making sure we are all in it together when we make group decisions, even when we personally disagree, because we trust each other and we are all responsible for the results. By working as a strong team we are able to create a real and lasting impact on the nonprofit sector.
In what ways have you contributed to your firm/company to make it better?
One of the things I am most proud of is building a team based on the “First who, then what” concept in Jim Collin’s “Good To Great.” I find the right people that create a culture that is enjoyable to work in each day and propels us to do great things. It is also in my DNA to keep pushing to see how can we better serve the needs of nonprofits and their accountants. I am never content to maintain the status quo, which drives me to raise funds, build partnerships, set big goals or lead a team that creates software that is constantly reinventing itself to respond to the evolving needs of the sector.
In what ways do you participate in the professional community to change/improve the accounting profession?
I served as the executive pastor for my church and helped launch a few local nonprofits, so I have a very sincere appreciation for the essential relationship between a nonprofit and its accountant. That is why I focused on removing the barriers that prevent small nonprofits from using an accountant, namely cost and convenience. One of first things we included in Aplos’ Cloud-based nonprofit accounting software was the ability for nonprofits to share real-time access to their books with their accountant for free. Then I worked with several firms that specialize in church or nonprofit accounting to build out the accountant platform to our software. Through this, accountants can efficiently access the books of their nonprofit clients remotely and provide a software solution that meets the needs of the clients that they can use confidently.
In what ways do you participate in your local community to help others?
In 2008, I helped start a thrift store in Fresno, called Neighborhood Thrift, to positively impact the economy of the South Fresno area, which is one of the largest concentrations of poverty in the nation. The thrift store now operates in a 20,000 square foot retail space and employs dozens of people from the surrounding neighborhood.
I also helped start another nonprofit, called Every Neighborhood Partnership (ENP), which connects public elementary schools in Fresno with a partnering church. The partner church provides volunteers to meet the needs of the school and its surrounding neighborhood. I still serve as the Chairman of the Board at ENP.
It was through these nonprofits that I saw the real need for financial software made for the 90% of nonprofits that don’t have a million dollar budget and it led me to found Aplos. Now, I love that there is a steady stream of young nonprofits that stop by our office to borrow a desk or conference room, pick up their mail, use our wifi, or get some advice. We love helping them and staying connected to the people we serve with our software.
What changes do you foresee in the accounting profession of the near future (3-5 years)?
The accounting profession is already on the move to the Cloud; it is impossible to ignore and is rapidly developing. We built Aplos in the Cloud so that a CPA has the tools they need to serve their nonprofits without being physically present. A lot of the new CPA and bookkeeping firms that are signing up for our accountant platform are building practices that are entirely digital, which means they can broaden their service area and secure customers anywhere. This also means that firms will no longer only have geographically-based competitors.
Those that adopt Cloud technology will slowly erode the client base of those that don’t. As Cloud technology develops, SaaS solutions like Aplos will only expand and become more refined and connected to other Cloud systems. This will make accountants even more efficient in managing their clients and increase the number of organizations they are able to support.
How do you see yourself participating in shaping the future of the accounting profession?
Most nonprofits use really good software products that were built for small business, but these products don’t quite handle the nuances that nonprofits have for funds and donation tracking. I think it is worth providing great software for the nonprofit space and advancing technology for the space, not treating it as an afterthought, which is why Aplos has already provided fund accounting software for thousands of nonprofits.
As topics come along like the FASB agenda item of changes to Not-For-Profit reporting, we’ll be there with our ears to the ground to be a part of the solution for how nonprofits and their accountants are able to practically manage their finances.
What is your career philosophy?
Reach your full potential. I not only want to be the best that I can be, but I want the people and organizations around me to reach their full potential as well. If you are capable of more than you are currently doing, it is time to reach for more.
Describe one person who has been an important mentor to you and how that person helped change your life.
Hands down, Eric Hanson has had the biggest impact on my professional career. I’ve always loved starting things and tinkering with inventions. It never even crossed my mind that I could build a game-changing company… until Eric Hanson offered me seed money to chase one of my ideas. He believed in me and shared my vision to build a nonprofit accounting software that the small guys could afford.
When Aplos was growing, but not very fast, I decided I’d like to turn Aplos from a nights and weekends thing into a real company and really make a run of things. I was unsure and called Eric to see if he thought that would be a good idea. By the time I got off the phone, Eric had completely funded me to get things going. At every step, Eric seems to believe in me before I believe in me. He really lets me learn things on my own, despite having his money at risk.
I would likely still be tinkering in my garage with my dumb magnetic hose invention and Aplos would not exist if Eric Hanson didn’t tap me on the shoulder and call me to more… and back that call with his own hard-earned money. I feel so privileged that Eric chose to invest in me and I hope to be able to do the same for others down the road.