Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Positive Vibes

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” – Willie Nelson

Most businesses have a busy season. For CPA firms, that season is mid-January until mid-April. For decades CPA firm owners have strived to find ways to keep their people busy all year long and have been very successful in most cases.

Yet, January through April has always been the months of intense focus, numerous distractions, multiple interruptions, on-going questions, constant learning and career-building opportunities.

When the pressure is on, partners and managers sometimes become negative. When the pressure is on, all the other people working at the firm sometimes become negative!

Some people begin to say things like:

  • Joe is never going to make it. He just isn’t getting it.
  • Sally is so slow. What are we going to do?
  • Bill is a loner. He never asks questions and ends up doing it all wrong.
  • The way Betty dresses is horrible.
  • Tim has bad breath. Who is going to talk to him?

In times of stress, people tend to become more negative. The old 80/20 rule surfaces. People are negative 80% of the time and positive 20% of the time.

Let’s change that beginning this week. Begin to focus on things you like about people at least 80% of the time. I have always naturally been an optimist. Maybe that has helped me survive many busy seasons and still remain positive most of the time.

  • "I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter."
  • Walt Disney

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Need A Cartoon To Use For Marketing?

Sometimes accountant cartoons are not very funny to those of us working in the CPA profession. But, there are times when a good laugh will do you some good and be appreciated by your clients. If you need custom cartoons for your newsletter, website or Facebook you might want to contact Jerry King.

I recently heard from Jerry and thought he might be a good resource for some of my readers.

Here’s a sample that I could relate to! Contact Jerry King here.

JerryKing

  • "Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter could be said to remedy anything."
  • Kurt Vonnegut

Friday, January 20th, 2017

All CPA Partners Should Remember This

Many firms have a Managing Partner, CEO or President. Many firms are sole-proprietorships and that owner is the Managing Partner. People within the firm look to the person in this role as the firm leader, the person-in-charge, the visionary.

In firms with multiple partners, the employees also look to the other partners as leaders and expect as much leadership from them as they do from the CEO.

Some of these “other” partners believe that leadership is up to the Managing Partner and that as a client service partner they don’t have to worry as much about inspiring staff or guiding their careers or even about following firm processes and guidelines.

This brings to mind a quote I read recently from Queen Elizabeth I of England. She ruled from 1558 until her death in 1603 and was the last monarch of the Tudor dynasty.

“A thousand eyes see all I do.”

It was rough being the Queen during those times when even her most personal actions and even her health details were observed and closely monitored by not only her personal attendants but also her subjects.

As a CPA partner, many eyes see what you do. Keep that in mind when you short-cut a procedure, delay returning a phone call or answering a question for a team member.

  • "To be a king and wear a crown is a thing more glorious to them that see it then it is pleasant to them that bear it."
  • Queen Elizabeth I

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Talk To Your Clients And Your Team

“The telephone is a good way to talk to people without having to offer them a drink.” – Fran Lebowitz

I know many CPAs who avoid talking to their clients. Yes, they have all kinds of valid excuses. I don’t mean to say that they ignore their clients but they think they save time by emailing almost all of the time.

That’s why the following thought, expressed by Simon Sinek, was meaningful to me.

“A five-minute call replaces the time it takes to read and reply to the original email and read and reply to their reply… or replies. And I no longer spend 20+ minutes crafting the perfect email – no need to.” – – Simon Sinek

So, you say, when I call my client I always get voice mail and we end up playing telephone tag. When they return my call I may be on the phone with another client.

Simple solution – set a telephone appointment.

Sinek’s quote also applies to your team members – a two-minute conversation can keep client work moving through the office rather than having the staffer wait on partners or managers to reply to emails.

Delay in getting answers from partners is one of the most common responses I receive when facilitating upward feedback surveys for partners.

I think the quote, below, applies to accounting firms!

  • "For email, the old postcard rule applies. Nobody else is suppose to read your postcards, but you'd be a fool if you wrote anything private on one."
  • Judith Martin

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Client Accounting Services

Consultants, firm associations, state societies, the media and the AICPA have all been telling you about the opportunities available if you offer Client Accounting Services.

Yes, many firms used to think that “write-up” work was very low margin work. The cloud and technology have made it very lucrative.

galeRead this excellent article from Gale Crosley‘s recent newsletter:  “From ‘Dull’ and “Commoditized’ to an ‘International Star'”.

Sign up for my newsletter here.

  • "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect."
  • Mark Twain

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Parental Leave

“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” – Benjamin Spock, M.D.

A few months ago I surveyed a small number of CPA firms across the country. I was curious about the kind of parental leave they offered as an employee benefit.

To my dismay, paid maternity leave is almost non-existent. CPA firms seem to approach it with a combination of actions. The employee (the mother) is encouraged to save and/or carry over PTO to be used and they combine it with short term disability options.

As far as any type of paid leave for new Dads, it seems truly non-existent.

Here is a good article from FAST Company – How Paid Parental Leave Changed in 2016. 

Some progress has been made, in general, but 2016 was not an impressive year for paid parental leave. A quarter of new mothers go back to work just 10 days after giving birth.

Just so you know, in 2016, EY announced a new policy to expand its parental benefits to over 35,000 U.S. employees. Both new mothers and fathers are eligible for up to 16 weeks of fully paid parental leave for birth, adoption, surrogacy, foster care, or legal guardianship.

If you want to attract and retain young, top talent. An impressive paid parental leave policy might just be the answer.

 

Monday, January 16th, 2017

Focus On Your Destination

“You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.” – Jim Rohn

Think about this meaningful quote from Jim Rohn. Can you see how it applies to you and how you go about improving and growing your accounting firm?

For example, you finally agree that you need to be TRULY paperless and become a digital firm. – – That’s the destination.

You work with your people to develop a roadmap on how to get there. You start down that road. Something happens (I won’t use the other “S” word), but things do happen. You get delayed, you encounter an unexpected obstacle. Some of the things you planned don’t work well.

By all means, change your approach. Learn from those who have gone before you and adopt some different ways to arrive at your destination.

But, do not give up. Keep focused on results and reach your destination.

Then set a new destination!

  • "I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination."
  • Jimmy Dean

Saturday, January 14th, 2017

Lighten-Up, It’s The Weekend – Bohemian Rhapsody

Enjoy this January weekend by listening to Bohemian Rhapsody played on a 100+-year-old fairground organ. Quite unique.

Speaking of unique, I also shared it performed by the Muppets back in 2013. 

  • "A concert is not a live rendition of our album. It's a theatrical event."
  • Freddie Mercury

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Be An Inspiration

“Eliminate the term motivate. Adopt the term inspire.” – Dan Rockwell

You read about it all the time. How to motivate others. I blogged about it this week – Motivate By Individualizing. I blog about it often. Another example is on February 16, 2015 – Are you doing the right things or just things?

Then, yesterday, I read the above quote from @leadership freak. I think he’s identified the correct term.

In accounting firms, you do all kinds of things to motivate people. You GIVE them an extensive list of benefits. You GIVE them words of encouragement. You GIVE them flexibility. You GIVE them a cool workplace. You even GIVE them opportunity.

The question is, as a leader, do you INSPIRE them? Even if you are not officially in a leadership role, do you inspire your peers?

Don’t GIVE them things continually. Try BEING an inspiration. Be the leader who works hard but is always available to help others. Be the leader who does not complain about peers, subordinates or clients. Be the leader who is active in the community and has even been recognized for charitable and community work. Be the person who has achieved great satisfaction and success from being a professional working in the accounting profession.

  • "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it."
  • Charles Swindoll

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Yes You Can

Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

I have always loved the above quote. It is so very descriptive of many of us and it is a quote that I think needs to be embraced by accountants, CPAs and others working in public accounting.

For the most part, public accounting is very traditional, conservative and risk-adverse. Many times I have heard practitioners state, “We can’t do that yet. Are other firms doing it? We need to see if it works for other firms first.”

I work with a lot of smaller firms and I believe that it is much easier for smaller firms to make significant changes, more quickly, than larger organizations. However, in reality, many small firms are lagging behind.

If you think you can’t become totally paperless. If you think you cannot have virtual employees. If you think you cannot have various flexible work arrangements. If you think your less experienced staff cannot take on more challenging work. If you think one of your long-time partners cannot change their behavior.

You are wrong. Yes, you can!

  • "We generate fears while we sit. We overcome them by action."
  • Dr. Henry Link