Capitalise sat down (virtually, of course) with Ben Nacca, founder of Cone Accounting, to discuss what it really means to work remotely and how to build a successful company around this very premise.
Over the past four years since setting up Cone Accounting, he has travelled to over 20 countries - slurped on Soba noodles while pondering GDPR, munching melanzana whilst contemplating MTD.. need I go on?
Overthrowing traditional notions of accounting firms, Ben employed the structures of technology firms that manage to build a company and gain clients whilst working remotely.
“Remote working is being able to work in their own time and working around a schedule that works for them. Everyone knows the deadlines that need to be done and has their own clients. Therefore it is up to them to make it work.”
The Tech stack that makes the cogs turn
Technology is essential to ensure Cone functions. The essential essentials, Ben noted, includes many of the all time favourites: Xero, Receipt Bank, Slack, Zoom and Trello. The one which is an absolutely crucial investment for his employees and the company is 15Five. This allows his employees to give him any feedback at the end of the week.
The ultimate test for technology? “If I lost my laptop would I be able to buy a new one that day and have no real issues?”
What about training the trainees?
Ben has taken the strong stance to only employ trainee accountants. Which begs the question - how on earth do you train someone from a distance?
Zoom or Loom is used for training - which has the added benefit of allowing the employee to re-watch the lesson if they need. Further, all emails in the first month are filtered through Ben, as is all of the work.
No office? More perks
With not having to pay for office space, Ben has managed to use the money and re-invest it in his employees - “Building the company around the employees” . Every month they make the effort to meet up, to celebrate birthdays and to go on a work-cation - Barcelona this year, perhaps Mexico next year.
But what of the clients?
They not only accept that Cone works remotely, they thrive on it. The ability to chat from the comfort of their own office is an added benefit rather than having to physically go into their accountant’s office. Ben notes that their offering is likely not for all; the type of clients that Cone work with are usually those who love everything tech. As long as they are happy with e-signing documents, the rest is down to making sure they are an all round good fit.
Favourite app? → Xero
If you could work at any other firm other than Cone? → Ashton McGill
Best Talent? → Managing (I hope)
If not an accountant what would you be? → Architect (but I can’t draw)
Best piece of advice? → Don’t micromanage
It appears to be a fine balance to strike: granting freedom whilst creating a strong team culture. We take our figurative hat off to you Ben. Perhaps it’s time to start slacking someone in a neighbouring country, rather than what I am currently doing - “Slacking” someone on a neighbouring desk. We are eager to hear your thoughts…