How do our partners run a company with "at-home" offices in four states when they are on the road in separate locations much of the time? K2 Enterprises, which produces and delivers technology seminars, practices what it preaches: It uses the Internet to keep in touch, to market itself and to support its services. The company's business is making in-person presentations; the Internet makes that business possible. Although K2 is a singular entity, its achievements and solutions have implications for any small firm that wants to conduct business outside its hometown. K2 serves as a case study for its message.
FLUID ORGANIZATION, FLUID TECHNOLOGY
On the surface, K2 looks like a small accounting firm; three of the four partners are CPAs. However, it is technically a company organized as a partnership. Although it does some consulting work, the vast majority of its business is preparing and delivering seminars and conferences on information technology. "We formalized what began as an affiliation about four years ago," said Val Steed, K2's chief executive officer. K2's partners have experience in public accounting, information technology consulting and academia. For example, Steed himself worked for both Big 8 and small accounting firms and specializes in tax. Partner J. Carlton Collins managed audit engagements and is an accounting software authority. They turned their communications skills, honed by delivering talks at seminars and writing books and articles, into the full-time business of performing speaking engagements. And while helping other CPAs keep up with technology, K2 addressed its own company-management issues.
Have a conference anywhere. Here's an example of a problem K2 faces that CPAs in traditional firms also have to deal with: Most CPAs in public practice know what it's like to travel extensively to perform engagements. And of course, they need to attend technical conferences around the country just to keep up. The K2 staff travels as well, delivering about 530 sessions at conferences around the country each year. "And when we aren't teaching, we're watching others teach to learn more ourselves," said K2 partner Will Fleenor. Time on the road led to massive phone bills as the partners and staff attempted to stay in touch with each other. The Internet helped solve the problem: Microsoft has a free software product called "NetMeeting" that allows real-time voice and video conferences through the Internet. It works with Internet...