Roger Knecht

As president of Salt Lake City-based Universal Accounting, Roger Knecht oversees the operations of a fast-growing company that provides training materials for those in tax preparation, bookkeeping and accounting. A native of Utah, Mr. Knecht received his undergraduate degree in communications from Brigham Young University and brings extensive experience in marketing and business management to his current position, having brought growth to a variety of organizations throughout his career. Under his leadership, Universal Accounting has been named one of the top 500 fastest growing companies five years in a row (2006-2010). In addition to his company duties, Roger is an accomplished presenter and writer, has earned multiple certifications and is a member of or leads several organization’s chapters and boards. He served as vice president of education for the Utah chapter of the Institute of Management Accounts and has received an award of excellence for his work helping convicted felons learn and develop workforce skills.

Pass On Your Passion

When your business is your idea or has your name attached to it, it can be easy to think no one can be as passionate about it as you are. But in order for your company to thrive, roger advises, you must hire people who are committed to the success of your company and passionate about their parts of the business. “Passion isn’t in the policies,” Roger says. “But it’s essential to nurture a culture of workers that go the extra mile.” Their individual passion can translate to passion for a successful company, keeping your passion alive.

Passing on your passion doesn’t mean hiring people to be subservient; rather, it means hiring those who are excellent at their jobs. “When you’re looking for people to champion your business, don’t be afraid to hire people better than you,” Roger says. “You want people to put in the time, to share their insights and to bring things to the table they uniquely bring,” This fuels a dedicated, passionate workforce to help your business thrive.

Manage Growth Wisely

When you first launch a company, long-term planning can often get eclipsed by simply trying to get your idea off the ground. But long-term planning is essential to a company, including reading the market trends, seeing new technological advances and more. Roger advises to watch your margins (because the numbers don’t lie) and to plan smartly for expansion, not just for your business’ products or presence, but for employee growth opportunities. Hire amazing people who can champion their part of the business and give them opportunities for growth. Incredibly talented employees will take jobs at other companies when there’s no opportunities for upward mobility in yours. “You need to create opportunities for growth so people won’t leave,” Roger notes. He suggests not only making that part of your long-term planning but also utilize your workforce to create or envision these opportunities as well. “If they can create something the company can duplicate, you can often create new positions from that,” Roger says. Keeping internal and external growth on your radar will keep your company strong.

Change with the Times

Being successful in your business means making needed changes so your company can keep up with changing technology and market trends. Many new businesses fail because they get stuck in a certain niche or model but don’t grow as changes occur. Roger’s company has adjusted successfully to the changes in the education industry it serves. When independent study became popular, for example, he led Universal Accounting to move from their established brick-and-mortar campuses to developing independent study tools (first send-out packets, then VHS tapes, then DVDs, etc.). “The education world has been dramatically changed by and is in flux because of online training,” Roger says. “Rather than fight the inevitable, we’re adapting to the new paradigm, putting our energies into other areas and complementing training with additional services that make us stand out among the competition.” Plan to adapt your company as needed in order to keep it relevant and successful within changing times.

Don’t Let Your Business Define You

Being an entrepreneur can be a time-consuming thing, but it’s important to find balance and not let your business be all you are or do. “We live in a world where one of the first questions people ask is ‘What do you do for a living?’, which often becomes our status,” Roger notes. But there’s more to life than status, and status isn’t all happiness is made up of. Make sure you have something to regularly disconnect from work that feeds your personal life, whether it’s a hobby, spiritual practice, family time, vacations or a combination thereof. “Well roundedness complements your work,” Roger notes. “If your personal or physical or spiritual needs wane, it will affect your work adversely.” So keeping your business pursuits in balance with the other aspects of your life will not only help your overall happiness but help your work thrive as well.