Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

Problems

“The work is to solve problems in a way that you’re proud of.” – Seth Godin

I love the above quotation from a post by Seth Godin. He is describing what it means to be an entrepreneur.

I believe that this quote describes my mission. I work to help my CPA firm clients solve problems, as the quote says, in a way that I am proud of. Often, it is very challenging, mostly because the problems I am trying to help solve can be solved by a simple solution – change.

You, working in a CPA firm, have the same exact mission. It’s not preparing tax returns or financial statements, it is solving problems for your clients and helping them make needed changes to be more profitable and successful.

Begin looking at your work this way. If you are solving problems, word will spread and you will have more clients. Solving problems is a great way to market.

  • "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."
  • Albert Einstein

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

Processes

“I follow three rules: Do the right thing, do the best you can, and always show people you care.” – Lou Holtz

How did your processes and procedures work during your busy season? Be sure you contemplate this question. Also, be sure you ask your people how they thought the processes worked this season.

Now is the time to work toward making NEXT year better. Identify trouble spots and spend some time analyzing.

I have observed that in many firms they have very well-thought-out processes and they work well until you get to the partner level and then things fall apart.

As a partner, are you a partner or a sole-proprietor working in a multi-partner firm? Is your firm a one-firm firm or a silo firm? Do you act as though, because you are a partner, the rules don’t apply to you?

One-firm firms grow and prosper much quicker and easier than silo firms.

If you are the leader of the firm, maybe you need a partner commitment statement that declares partners will follow the firm’s processes, procedures, and guidelines. Your people will thank you!

  • "If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun."
  • Katharine Hepburn

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

Merger & Acquisition

“I always say, complacency is the kiss of death.” – Shari Redstone

So many firms that I have known over my many years in public accounting have disappeared. Yes, they have merged-up or merged-in. As founders of many firms have moved into retirement they have chosen to merge rather than pass the firm along to others.

Many other firms I know have become the acquirers. With them, the original firm has also disappeared to be replaced by a new name that incorporates names of firms they have acquired (usually if those other firms are large enough that their name carries significant weight).

Then there are the doubters, the undecideds. They want to grow by acquiring other firms or they want to enjoy less stress from management responsibilities by being part of a larger firm. This group wavers and worries especially if it is their first venture into the M&A world. They are afraid of the risk and wonder if they will actually like being part of something bigger. They worry if they will like their new partners. My advice? Get over it and move ahead. Don’t delay too long or some wonderful opportunities might pass you by.

  • "The tragedy of life is often not in our failure, but rather in our complacency; not in our doing too much, but rather in our doing too little; not in our living above our ability, but rather in our living below our capacities."
  • Benjamin E. Mays

Friday, April 20th, 2018

Flashback Friday – Incentives For New Business

There is a lot of discussion in CPA circles about paying an incentive to team members for assisting in bringing in new business to the firm.

Here’s a flashback post on this topic – Incentive For New Business – Keep It Simple.

Have a great Friday!

  • "In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours."
  • Mark Twain

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

Guidelines For Clients

“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” – Napoleon Hill

You have them. You keep them. Sometimes you shouldn’t keep them. But, if you do, figure out how to deal with them. I am talking about those clients that drive you crazy!

Talk to new clients and current clients about how to help YOU serve THEM better (How to be a better client.)

Here’s a sample that you discuss with clients and include in your new client packet.

To facilitate our efforts in providing the highest level of service, we ask the following of you.

  • You will be open, frank and honest with us at all times. You will let us know immediately of any concerns you have about our work together.
  • You will give us all the information we need to complete our assignments.
  • You will meet mutually agreed upon deadlines. In the case of circumstances beyond your control, you will notify us immediately of the situation.
  • You will pay our fees per our engagement letter. If you cannot pay, you will call and talk to us immediately.
  • You will give consideration to referring us to at least one other business that might benefit from our services.
  • "Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting and growing, practicing patience and being persistent."
  • Billy Graham

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

Urgency

“Progressive improvement beats delayed perfection.” – Mark Twain

The heat is off. That is the way many CPAs are feeling today (even though the IRS gave taxpayers one more day).

Many CPAs working in public accounting will be taking a few days off to recuperate. I call it the after-tax-season coma. They certainly deserve some down time but often it turns into a few days off followed by a few weeks of inactivity.

During busy season, most people working in an accounting firm feel a great sense of urgency and work flows like water out the door. After mid-April, that sense of urgency dissipates.

This year it is even more important to take action on firm management matters sooner rather than later. Big change is approaching and leaders need to make decisions and outline plans for how the firm will grow and evolve into a consulting organization.

Don’t lose that sense of urgency.

  • "Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value. "
  • Jim Rohn

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

Taxman – Just For Fun Today

“When you’ve seen beyond yourself, then you may find, peace of mind is waiting there.” – George Harrison

TAXMAN – The Beatles

Let me tell you how it will be
There’s one for you, nineteen for me
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
Should five per cent appear too small
Be thankful I don’t take it all
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah I’m the taxman
If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.
Don’t ask me what I want it for
If you don’t want to pay some more
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
Now my advice for those who die
Declare the pennies on your eyes
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
And you’re working for no one but me.
Songwriter: George Harrison
Taxman lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Want to hear it? Click here.
  • "Gossip is the Devil's radio."
  • George Harrison

Monday, April 16th, 2018

Pretending

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

Do you ever feel yourself pretending that you love your work, your career, and your firm?

From time to time, perhaps we all feel that way. As busy season comes to a close for accountants and their teams, this might be something that enters your mind if you work at a CPA firm.

Don’t hide from it, explore it. Public accounting is a challenging profession. Even though firms have done so much to make work life more enjoyable for their employees, there are still long hours, a certain amount of stress, difficult clients, and various other challenges. If you dread going into the office and feel like you are pretending to be something you are not, don’t ignore those feelings. Decide what you really want to be doing with your life.

The good thing is most accountants working in a CPA firm tell me (via surveys and conversations) that the thing they enjoy most about their career is the work. They love working with clients and helping them succeed. They love the work but not most of the other things that surround the work. Things like keeping track of their time, the long hours, the expectation to bring in new business, the human resources challenges and other internal management issues.

Do you love the work and the firm or are you pretending?

Here’s a good article the gives you a list of the top 10 signs that you feel like an imposter at work.

  • "It's all about quality of life and finding a happy balance between work and friends and family."
  • Phillip Green

Sunday, April 15th, 2018

Entry-Level Hiring Is Changing Quickly

“Be Prepared” – The Boy Scout Motto

Be aware. You will not need the same type of talent going into the future. Here’s a brief excerpt from an article by Dustin Hostetler via CPA Practice Advisor:

The convergence of technology (namely more artificial intelligence), along with the gig economy, is going to change the way CPA firms hire entry-level staff in the very near future. Basic compliance work will be automated through technology and what isn’t fully automated will be sourced to the gig economy. The new staff you bring in must demonstrate the ability to grow/develop into a client-facing advisor much earlier in their careers than has historically been the case. They also need to possess more skills in the areas of data analytics, financial analysis and strategic thinking.

Now is the time to plan.

  • "Preparedness, when properly pursued, is a way of life, not a sudden, spectacular program."
  • Spencer Kimball

Friday, April 13th, 2018

Paraskevidekatriaphobics – Big Word for a Big Fear

Are you familiar with the word Paraskevidekatriaphobics?

Thank goodness for “cut & paste” because I don’t think I could even type it correctly while looking directly at it!

Here is some background – paraskevidekatriaphobia. The term was first coined in the early nineties by Dr. Donald E. Dossey, an American psychotherapist specializing in phobias and stress management, who reputedly claimed that when someone was able to pronounce the word they were cured.

I don’t have it and I hope you don’t either. It’s the fear of Friday the 13th – not the movie – the day. I’m afraid of the movie.

Like many human beliefs, the fear of Friday the 13th isn’t exactly grounded in scientific logic. If you want to know more about its origins click here.

As for today, inside your CPA firm or accounting department, why not lighten things up and do something fun for your team. How about a spur of the moment contest during lunch break. Have a spelling bee – use accounting words and then spring Paraskevidekatriaphobics on them if you can pronounce it! Of course, have a nice prize for the winner. Doesn’t have to be anything huge – perhaps a $20 bill.

As you go through the day, don’t give into the morbid and depressing. Keep with my motto, one that I have shared with you often: Life Is Good.

  • "There is something terribly morbid in the modern sympathy with pain. One should sympathise with the colour, the beauty, the joy of life. The less said about life's sores the better."
  • Oscar Wilde