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Rules for scaling your business – Join the Elites with Bruce Coombes

Join the Elites – Insights from the minds of the super successful

Our Managing Director, Bruce Coombes, was recently invited to participate in the first-ever episode of the webinar series Join the Elites. Host Taryn Holman, National Sales Manager at Seamless SMSF, is joined by a different accounting industry expert each episode to hear about their formula for success and seamless profitability.

According to Bruce, the accounting formula that gives you less frustration, more profits, and more time to yourself is one where you position “the right customers, the right staff, doing the right things that you want to do. So it stops being work and starts becoming fun.”

With 42 years of industry knowledge, Bruce outlined his key insights to help you get to that end goal and enjoy yourself along the way.



Surround yourself with good people

With the amount of time you spend at work, it’s essential to surround yourself with good people. Most successful businesses will agree that it is easier to find good clients than find good staff. However, once you find nice clients, they will gladly refer like-minded people if they are happy with your service. Likewise, nice employees will refer good people to work with you if they feel valued. Ensuring you invest the time to keep good people by investing in your culture and refining your processes builds an environment where you have the right people in the right positions doing the right jobs with a positive mindset.

Don’t try to solve all of the problems

The impact of the pandemic on Australian business has unfortunately meant an increase in the number of business closures. The flow-on effect to the accounting industry has been significant in terms of work volume. Accountants across Australia have been working tirelessly to support their clients as we work through the economic impact of the pandemic. According to Bruce, the “sheer fatigue in our profession needs to stop” as you can’t solve every problem for every person.

Being realistic about what clients should be a part of your practice is vital to the long term success of your business, and you will need to manage your clients to ensure you have the right ones on board.

Triage your clients

Helping struggling clients is one thing, but when you overload your books with too many of these clients, you will start to see the impact on the macro level. You are a business, not a charity.

Bruce identifies three criteria for good clients;

  1. They have the ability to take advice
  2. They have the capacity to listen
  3. They pay

Simply put, clients that don’t take your advice or don’t pay should not be your clients.

A business that can balance helping clients in crisis and getting paid what they deserve will survive and thrive. Ultimately, you have an obligation to your primary stakeholder – your family. However, you do not have an obligation to a failing business that will not take your advice.

Finding good clients makes it easier for you and your team to do the work they enjoy. Don’t put up with the difficult clients – if they don’t align with your vision and culture, help them find a better-suited firm.

Don’t undervalue yourself

Consider this analogy, would you choose a discount heart surgeon or the best, most expensive one when it comes to your health? There is no doubt that surgeons deliver fantastic value to their clients – but they do not do it for free, and nor should you.

When you lower your costs, you undervalue yourself and the service you provide your clients. Which is a trend that Taryn says is all too common in accountants as, by and large, they are genuinely caring, good people and feel that minimizing their costs is the best way to help their clients. Remember that your clients are not paying for an hour of your time – they are paying for your experience.

Book a meeting with yourself

There will always be something that demands your attention, but according to Bruce, “being busy is not a badge of honour”. Instead, ensure you block time in your diary to allow yourself time to think and reflect. By taking back control of your time, you have the chance to properly digest information and create the opportunity for innovative thought.

Rules for scaling your business

According to Bruce, there are two basic rules for scaling your business.

  1. “Growth for growth’s sake is absolutely pointless. There is no point in having a chart that goes up and profit that doesn’t move. You are in business to make money.”
  2. You are in business to make money!

These rules mean that you simply will not stay in business in the absence of making money, and to stay in business, you must have a clear vision of your end goal in mind, value and invest in yourself, and surround yourself with good people.


About Seamless SMSF

Seamless SMSF is an Australian, privately owned Self-Managed Superannuation Fund (SMSF) Audit Firm that offers SMSF Audit services to accounting firms. Having built a Live, Fully Integrated Workflow Portal, accountants can access contractors who supply back-office labour to assist them with functions necessary to run their accounting businesses successfully. This unique portal, paired with outstanding service, has made Seamless SMSF Australia’s #1 SMSF provider for accounting firms, now auditing in excess of 19,114 funds. Click here to enquire.