Redefining the Value of Your Firm’s Business Model

In a recent BILL webinar, we kicked off BILL’s webinar series on Redefining Value. Post-pandemic has left us scrambling with our value, team building, and economic changes that are challenging everyone.

We can’t let these issues control our future - rather we have to recognize that times like this are actually opportunities in disguise. You can leverage the ideas in this webinar to take back control the growth of your firm, and how you feel about your place in this post-pandemic world.  

Redefining Your Business Model

First, what is a business model? This is the model by which you plan to make a profit in your business. Essentially, a business model is meant to be proof of your firm’s justification to remain in business. Accounting firms have fundamental reasons for being in business, namely that the government and other entities require compliance from the small business market. Said another way, we have to have clients. Not all industries have this going for them. 

But is that good? The fact that small businesses must use our services means we can become lax in our pursuit of the market forces that actually make us valuable (and allow us to be more profitable). Because many of our clients are required to use us, we just let others bring us clients. But this approach can lead us to become a commoditized profession where better and better technology can perform a lot of our most basic tasks.

Instead of becoming okay with a mundane business model, let’s talk through some opportunities to become a valuable business, and leverage technology as our partner to present ourselves as more valuable to the world!

Uncommon Sense

In the webinar, we dove into this image above, which is from the book Uncommon Sense, Common Nonsense by Jules Goddard and Tony Eccles. We learned that there are many things we do as a profession that are really just copy-cats of one another. This is known as Common Sense when it is part of what the whole profession does well, and also known as Common Nonsense when it is something we all do in the profession that is both unhelpful and decidedly un-valuable. Though we want to avoid the Common Nonsense in our firms, authors Goddard and Eccles really want us to pursue Uncommon Sense. 

Uncommon Sense are the winning strategies we embody as a firm that can only be found in our firms. They are proprietary and bespoke, so to speak. They represent our creativity and the valuable ways in which we have found out we can serve our markets. Our strategies of Uncommon Sense are the attractive parts of our firm’s particular service that we can price high for because they are highly valuable. 

Uncommon Sense Principles (and some questions for you):

1. Theories that inform how we grow our firms are inevitably based on truths and falsehoods. Are your theories based on truth?

2. What may have been Uncommon Sense in the past can change, and become Common Sense, or even become Common Nonsense in the present. Is your growth theory long term? 

3. We don’t always know which firm growth assumptions are truths or which ones are falsehoods. Do you know what you believe?

4. Winning firms act on the Uncommon Sense that they have in the form of experimental risks. Are you taking risks to prove the value of your firm?

5. Winning firms know something that other firms do not know. What do you know about yourself that will allow you to grow?

The Smile Curve for Accounting Firms 

A few years ago, I developed the Smile Curve for Accounting Firms. We introduced this model of assessing your firm’s value in the BILL Accounting Firm Growth Masterclass. The Smile Curve, originally developed by Stan Shih, Taiwanese entrepreneur and founder of Acer computers, shows where the value of our business model truly lies. 

As we can see from the Smile Curve for Accounting Firms, our highest forms of value in our business model is found earlier in our work where we innovate new services and sell discovery services; and found later in our work where we extract insights for our clients to understand from the numbers we produce. 

We can see the depression in the middle of the smile curve where government compliance produces much lower amounts of value. This is what we discussed earlier where our clients are essentially required to use us - a prime way we can become commoditized as a profession. 

In response to the knowledge gained from the Smile Curve, we are meant to ‘push our services up’ the smile curve to the more innovative and valuable parts of the curve:

This is where our strategies lie in seeking to become more valuable firms with more valuable business models that produce more valuable services. In response, the market we serve will pay us higher prices as our value increases. 

Final Takeaways

There is a response here for firms that can see themselves on the Smile Curve for Accounting Firms. Ask yourself these key questions as you look to change your firm and make the post-pandemic world an opportunity for your firm instead of what is holding you back:

  • What are your top 3 challenges now post-pandemic?

  • What is the 1 main valuable reason your firm exists?

  • What hinders you in your role as the leader of your firm?

  • What 1 change can you make to your business model?

We hope these thoughts help you see more clearly what it takes to create a more valuable firm. Let us know if you have any further questions by emailing us at

Want to learn even more? Bookmark the Redefining Value Webinar Series to hear from today’s industry thought leaders who have been there, done that, and are sharing what they've learned along the way.

About Jason Blumer

CEO, Thriveal Network and Blumer CPAs
 Jason Blumer  |  @JasonMBlumer

Jason Blumer founded Thriveal in 2010 as a way for firm owners to connect. In the ten years that Thriveal has been supporting firm owners, Julie Shipp has become an owner with Jason. Together with their team, they support firms in reaching their goals through live events, a monthly podcast, written content, webinars, coaching, consulting, and more. The heartbeat of Thriveal is the online community where firm owners gather to ask questions and share ideas.

Questions about any Thriveal programs can be asked by contacting

This webinar is part of our Redefining Value webinar series. View the other virtual events and learn more about this series.

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