Success in business is rarely achieved overnight. Instead, it takes years of careful thinking, planning and refining – and learning from the experience of others. Mark O’Brien from Count’s Member Firm of the Year, O’Brien Accountants & Advisors, shares the secrets of his firm’s success.
What were your biggest achievements this year?
I don’t consciously think about each year’s achievements. I believe our successes are more a culmination of what we’ve been working on over a number of years.
Recently, we’ve focused on identifying the ideal clients we’d like to be doing more work for. We then grouped these clients by common needs so we could develop offerings to meet the needs of our preferred client segments. It’s taken years of thinking to develop those offerings into what they are today.
You’re a strong advocate of leadership training and coaching. How has it helped you manage growth?
Working with a coach has helped us to grow sustainably. We’ve also learned how to price our work better and make the financial planning side of our business more profitable, by confidently articulating the value we bring to clients.
By understanding our value proposition, we know where we need to focus our energy and time – not only to achieve the greatest rewards for our firm, but also for each client. We’ve also thought about all the components of our work to find options for outsourcing as a way to manage costs.
What’s the secret of successful teamwork?
We place a lot of emphasis on staff training and development. Just as importantly, we want to our team members to enjoy each other’s company.
We’ve also developed a fairly informal interview process, where members of the team go for a coffee with each prospective employee. By finding out what they have in common, this helps to build good relationships.
The new prospect may be very technically strong or may appear to have the makings of a great team member – but if the others don’t enjoy their company, it could be a deal breaker.
What did winning Member Firm of the Year mean to you?
There are so many great firms in the Count group – so it was great to be acknowledged among our peers and contemporaries, and to know they think we’re worthy of the award.
It was fantastic just being nominated – but getting over the line this time was an incredible experience.
How has Count helped you deliver exceptional service to your clients?
All the best initiatives we've introduced into our business have been a result of the Count relationship – including Xero, Class Super and coaching and training program. We’ve also met some really great thought leaders through Count’s 2017 study tour to Wharton Business School in Philadelphia.
Count’s initiatives have driven our success and challenged us. They’ve also given us the opportunity to meet some very progressive thinkers who want to run good businesses and are willing to share their knowledge and experience.