Every month, PEX Card hosts a monthly conversation on Twitter called #PEXCardChat. In the July #PEXCardchat on Twitter, our guest was Jennifer Warawa, Global Vice President of Product Marketing to Accountants at Sage Group PLC. She provided our followers with incredible insights and some very good advice for running smart businesses. We also talked about the upcoming Sage Summit conference taking place in New Orleans. Below is a summary of our discussion.
PEX Card: What are the biggest challenges facing accountants/CPAs today?
Jennifer Warawa: The biggest challenge for accountants and CPAs is transitioning from providing simple tax/compliance services to being more of a financial advisor to clients. Time is also a big challenge. Finding time to implement new technologies like cloud and mobile can be difficult. Convincing clients to get “on-board” with new technologies is tough. Communicating the payoff to clients can be hard.
PEX Card: Within these challenges facing accountants and CPAs, what are some of the opportunities you see?
Jennifer Warawa: Moving beyond a tax specialist and becoming a financial advisor opens up a whole new world to grow your business. It can mean more clients, more services to existing clients, and more success. Accountants are primed to capitalize on this opportunity. With technology, it helps to automate many manual processes, so there’s less room for errors that can occur. Technology frees up time; it gets you out of the office so you can see friends and family, whether you are at home, on vacation, or somewhere in between.
PEX Card: How can accountants make better use of social media to engage with their SMB clients and/or potential clients?
Jennifer Warawa: When a business owner is looking for an Accountant, online is their starting point (e.g. your website or a social media platform). Done correctly, a website and social media can be great ways to showcase your personal brand and humanize yourself. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn are just some of the ways Accountants can engage with their clients.
PEX Card: Let's switch the focus to SMBs and entrepreneurs. What are some of the latest financial trends for SMBs (e.g. cash flow, expenses, financing)?
Jennifer Warawa: Cash flow is the lifeblood of any successful small or midsize company. It keeps the doors open. Business owners should look to their Accountants for recommendations and insights on cash flow issues. In today’s economy, a relatively calm one, it makes sense to review different scenarios in the future with your Accountant so your business is prepared for any changes in the economy.
PEX Card: Are SMBs and accountants migrating to the Cloud together?
Jennifer Warawa: Slowly. Age used to be a big factor where millennials were on board and baby boomers weren’t when it came to moving a business to the Cloud. Now, age isn’t as much of a factor. The challenge today is finding the time to invest in something new. If Accountants and small business owners make the time to move to the cloud together, they should find the rewards for their efforts.
PEX Card: What concerns are facing business owners entering global markets?
Jennifer Warawa: A lot of the concerns are around technology. To go global, your business must be in the cloud. This can be intimidating at times because it means change. However, putting the time (and money) into a cloud-based solution will pay off in the end.
PEX Card: Given your expertise in marketing, what tips can you give to business owners today?
Jennifer Warawa: Be real; don’t be phony. Make sure your sincerity comes across in everything you do, be it online or when you meet face-to-face. Convey how much you love what you’re doing and your customers will gravitate towards you. Also, if you’re not on social media, you need to be. It’s low cost and a great way to market your personal brand.
PEX Card: Sage Summit is coming up on July 27-30th in New Orleans. Who will be attending?
Jennifer Warawa: Thousands of attendees, from SMBs, to accountants, to thought leaders; there’s something for everyone. We’re excited to be in New Orleans for the first time, and the speakers are sensational. We even have live streaming videos of Sage Summit’s featured conversations: https://na.sage.com/sage-summit/videos. If you can’t make it to New Orleans, join us for the excitement online.
PEX Card: What can Sage Summit attendees expect to find at the event?
Jennifer Warawa: Each day, we have amazing conversations on stage with people such as General Colin Powell, Deepak Chopra, Tony Hawk, Jane Seymour, Chad Hurley, and more. The rest of the days include learning sessions from top thought leaders across multiple industries. This year, Sage Summit is a global event, with attendees and speakers from around the world. There will be lots of excitement, energy, knowledge, and fun! Oh, and food, too. Did I mention it’s in New Orleans?
PEX Card: That’s awesome! We are looking forward to Sage Summit. Now, do you have any final thoughts for accountants and small biz owners trying to get ahead?
Jennifer Warawa: Be true to yourself, and be true to your clients. When your clients come and talk to you about taxes, take that opportunity to be much more to them. You’ll be surprised how eager they are to get financial advice from you. For business owners, keep your accountants in mind when it comes to running your business. They know your business inside and out; tap into that resource. It will lead to greater success for everyone.
PEX Card: Thanks again to Jennifer Warawa for being our guest today. Great tips for accountants and small business owners!