Key Business Lessons Learned from the Smithink 'Young Guns' Workshop

Earlier in the year, I was given the opportunity to speak at the Smithink Young Guns Workshop, a two-day conference for young(ish) accounting professionals held at the Hilton, Surfers Paradise.

The theme of the event was personal development, embracing change in the industry and leveraging new technologies. These topics are nothing new in our industry, or in others, however a refresh is always useful and, in this case, I came away with some valuable insights worth sharing. 

Insights from an old timer

The topic of my presentation was ‘lessons from the real world’. Basically, this meant 30 minutes of me talking about what I have learned during my 18+ years as an accountant.

There is too much to say to go into too much detail here, but the key themes I covered were the importance of investing in yourself and your team, looking after your clients, and not being afraid to jump outside your comfort zone and take advantage of opportunities – how often do you do this?

Key lessons learned

While I’m positive my speech could have done with some polishing, the feedback was good and many of the points raised were in line with those explored across the presentation – which I think emphasises the importance of these issues.

So, what lessons stood out?

1. Build a strong team

Mandy Holloway’s (Courageous Leaders) discussion on leadership and developing high performance teams really struck a chord. She raised a number of good points including:

• Be prepared to challenge and be challenged
• Deal with conflict constructively and immediately
• Be clear and honest with yourself on your strengths and abilities

In addition, looking back at my notes, I’m drawn to a comment ‘ditch performance reviews’ – a process I certainly agree is in need of a refresh.

2. Don’t forget the customer experience

I also got a lot out of Mark Holton’s discussion of the Disney customer service philosophy, which came off the back of a trip to the Disney Institute and the concept of ‘On stage: Off stage’. Very few businesses nail the customer experience, often we forget that our ‘on stage’ e.g. our office, our personal interactions, need careful management.

How good is yours?

3. Embrace technological change

Technological change should be seen as an opportunity as much as a potential threat, and David Smith (Smithink) did a good job at reinforcing how it’s impacting everything from the services and products we offer to how we build our teams e.g. the offshoring model.

Wayne Schmidt (Karbon) also brought a hell of a lot of energy to make us think about how we present ourselves to the market with our online strategies. Are we doing enough?

Don’t just learn, act

What was clear from the conference, and a key takeaway for me, is that we should be thinking creatively about how we attack these issues and not simply rolling out the same old ideas.

Whether you’re looking at ways to incentivise your team or boost employee engagement, market your business, incorporate new technologies or improve the client experience, there are plenty of new and innovative ideas out there that should be considered. 

However, without action it’s all nothing more than empty words, ideas and promises, so it’s now on me, and you, to make sure we act to move our businesses, and the industry, forward.

Written by Partner, Scott Brooks

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