Taking Your Firm Virtual 2023 – Day 1 Recap
It’s that time of year again! The Taking Your Firm Virtual conference, hosted by Nayo Carter-Gray, EA, is back in its 4th year. From August 1st through August 3rd, an all-star lineup of 20+ speakers will cover essential topics for firm success with remote clients and staff, including selecting and setting up the apps you need, marketing yourself and your firm, onboarding, pricing, working efficiently with automation using AI and Bots, and more. You can join the live event for FREE or get a paid All-Access Pass with lifetime access to the sessions.
This is the best virtual conference I have ever attended or heard of. I’ve been to all but the first and have written recaps for Tax Practice News (2021) and Bookkeep (2022). There is so much “good” to say about it. The entire experience knocks it out of the park and exceeds expectations every year. The platform is easy to use and engaging, and the sessions are short, engaging, and full of thoughtful content. She schedules the perfect amount of time between sessions. You can take a break, make a snack, walk your dog, check emails, etc., during the breaks, or hang out with others in the fluid space for “hallway conversations.”. Attendees can interact with the session, speaker, and other attendees through chat, and there are reactions and closed captions. Plus, all the presentations, worksheets, and transcriptions are accessible for download.
Great sponsors like Relay, FinancialCents, FinDaily.io, Gusto, Keeper, Rippling, Synder, and Nayo’s firm 1st Step Accounting stepped up this year to support the event, and some even have virtual booths. This conference is the perfect place to get inspired and elevate your firm to new heights of efficiency and excellence! If you couldn’t attend Day 1, read on to hear about it.
Day 1 was jam-packed and full of necessary and relevant information. The first session was Nayo’s Welcome Session – The Bots are Coming. She said, “The bots are here,” and AI and automation themes are throughout the conference. She even introduced us to her AI sidekick Sara and talked about how she can help with your transition to a virtual firm by writing emails, crunching numbers, etc., to let you focus on the things that need a human touch. Now that was pretty cool! With these tools, Nayo can do what she wants, like spending more time building and nurturing client relationships.
Next up was Megan Genest Tarnow with Base Tech: Technology Tools Needed to Run A Virtual Firm. If you are thinking about running a virtual firm, there is essential technology you will want to consider using to serve clients and interact with your team successfully. She called technology a “sequential vortex,” a force that can easily engulf and overwhelm individuals because there are so many different apps, and it’s hard to know what works together and what will work for your firm. Megan brought up technology recommendations for websites, domains, emails, calendars, meetings, scheduling, practice management, and more. “Taking time to set up the processes and tools now gives you a solid foundation that will serve you well, ideally for years to come,” she says.
Following Megan, Nayo was back up to present Protect your PC – Avoiding the hackers. First, she brought up five common cybersecurity threats: social engineering, phishing, spear phishing, malware, and ransomware. Next, she discussed vulnerabilities we all have with our devices, such as outdated software, using unsecured WiFi, giving out your WiFi password or never changing it, using easily guessable passwords, or reusing passwords. She talked about how to protect your devices, create an incident response plan for your firm, and reflect after an incident to better prepare for the future.
Kelly G (Gonsalves) presented App Stacking: How to Choose the Right App. I loved the quote on the opening slide, “The technology you use impresses no one. The EXPERIENCE you create with it is everything,” by Sean Gerety. She talked about the challenge areas, client work, teamwork, practice management, and how technology could alleviate or better organize your work. Apps to consider include document storage, data transformation, internal and external communication, add-on services, project/task management, time management, CRM, and security. She listed several in each category and discussed what had worked for her. My biggest takeaway from that session was at the end of the chat when Kelly pointed out that the apps are for you (the practitioner) to work efficiently, not for the client.
FinancialCents hosted the Lunch & Learn session to allow attendees to learn more about them. If you are looking for an integrated workflow solution that helps you track client work, get client responses faster, organize everything, and hit your deadlines with one easy-to-use app that your team will love, check them out. Then, after a tech-stacked morning (see what I did there), the afternoon was all about marketing and strategy.
Alex Miles presented Being Social On Social Media. She talked through the dos and don’ts of social media. In the comments, most people said they struggled with knowing what to post, and therefore, they also find posting consistently challenging. Alex’s focal message was to “be human” and make your social media presence interactive. To close out, she touched on the convenience of AI and how it’s more important now to maintain the human touch.
Next up was Shanita Jones, CPA, discussing Crafting a Marketing Plan with her KNOW, GO, GROW method. Her accompanying worksheet was incredibly helpful in having the attendees reflect on themselves and their businesses to build a marketing plan tailored to their target audience. I loved how she broke down each process step to customize and create a marketing plan.
The last session of the day was Jason Staats, CPA, presenting Finding Your Dream Client Using AI. This discussion had attendees thinking about maximizing revenue with their ideal clients. It can be valuable to niche down or specialize in a particular industry with various clients because the firm can work more efficiently with their resources, cue AI. With AI, firms can easily create internal and external documentation, write blogs, and use a chatbot to answer questions. He encouraged attendees to learn more, and take advantage of AI in their firm. In Jason’s words, when using AI, keep it practical. Figure out how it can solve a meaningful problem for you today.
As always, it was a great first day at the Taking Your Firm Virtual conference. First-timers and repeat attendees commented about enjoying all the sessions and excitement for Day 2. If you missed out, you still have time to join live or grab an All Access Pass to view these fantastic sessions. Hope to see you there!
Grab your All Access Pass here!