Millennial Business Owners Want To Be Paperless Clients

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As the next generation of business owners, millennials offer an enticing opportunity as prospective clients. The growth potential of these young entrepreneurs can contribute to the profitability of your accounting firm. As they grow, so can your firm.


Based on revenue, almost one-third of millennial business owners averaging $1.1 million to more than $25 million in revenue each year compared to 38% for all respondents, making their firm slightly lower in average revenue than more established firms.

Over half of millennial entrepreneurs lead companies with more than 20 employees.

While word of mouth plays a substantial role in marketing efforts for accounting firms, the younger generation uses a mix of tools to help them find accounting partners.

Business owners 30 and younger display a greater diversification among information resources. After referrals from peers, friends and family (64%), they value internet searches (23%), advertising (18%), and referrals from technology partners (14%).

While social media is highly touted, only 3% of millennials search for professional services through social media.

The data points to the need for accounting firms to diversify marketing strategies and resources. Firms should expand how they find and acquire clients as millennial business owners make more hiring decisions. Beyond nurturing their referral networks, client recruitment measures should expand to an online presence through SEO, social media, and advertising. Firms should also explore partnerships and referral opportunities offered by technology providers

Paperless is the norm – not the exception

According to the most Practice Builder Publishing one-click survey on millennial preferences, paper-based accounting services may soon be the exception rather than the norm.

Millennial business owners overwhelmingly prefer digital-only accounting, with 82% indicating that they would feel “very pleased” or “pleased” if their accounting firm offered paperless services.

Electronic-based accounting services offer millennials numerous benefits: anytime, anywhere access; easy filing, searching, and sharing; and the ability to cut down on office space.

It’s important to note that while all age groups indicate a preference for paper-free accounting, ages 31- 39 have a positive responses of 78% while older clients in the 40-55 range are accepting of paperless at only 66%. Business owners 56+ approve of paperless accounting by 45%, but display the largest proportion of those uncomfortable with the idea (20%).

With all generations – especially younger ones – opting for paperless operations and accounting, it makes sense to evaluate your firm’s paper reliance level. A heavy paper reliance – meaning it touches almost all tasks within your firm and with your clients – indicates that it’s time to explore solutions that enable a paper-light or paperless environment. These include cloud-based technologies, digital bill payment, online invoicing, document management, and more.

The takeaways for these results include:

When pitching younger business owners, emphasize the strategic element of services. Ensure the firm has integrated, technology-driven and efficient processes in place to provide accurate and timely reporting. Integrated cloud-based technologies, along with digital payments, can significantly accelerate the reporting process.

The top-three tools millennial business owners would like from their accounting firms include cloud-based technologies (56%), online invoicing (46%), and digital payments (33%). Mobile access clocks in at 25% as a top tool, ranking slightly above a web portal provided by the accounting firm. For a generation raised on the internet and mobile apps, these tools mesh with operational and mobility preferences and the ability to conduct business from any location or device at any time.

Some millennial business owners not only want to work with leading technologies – they require it. A quarter of millennial business owners said it is critically important to them that their firm use the cloud and mobile technologies.

Support for virtual accounting firms

The fact that millennial business owners show a preference for cloud-based technologies, online invoicing, and digital payments suggests that they are receptive to the virtual accounting firm model. Since these technologies enable accounting services with only a device (laptop, tablet, smartphone) and an internet connection, the need to have an accounting firm nearby or in the same region diminishes.

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A virtual model offers a low overhead and enhanced flexibility for accounting firms. There’s no need for expensive office spaces. The technology that supports these models offers greater efficiency and the ability to take on new clients or offer new services as a result. Plus, it opens the playing field vastly in terms of gaining new clients and employees since regional limits are eliminated. These benefits, and the fact that millennial business owners are highly receptive to virtual accounting firms, offer many opportunities for accounting firms to thrive.

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