Saturday, July 23rd, 2016
I’m always urging CPAs to tweet. It is a powerful social media tool that can help build your firm brand and also provide valuable information to your clients and team members.
This week (Friday) I shared how powerful Twitter is for building a niche and a personal brand (@SportsTaxMan).
Heck! Even my son’s dog tweets! (@JackJackDogDog).
- "Every dog has his day, unless he loses his tail, then he has a weak-end."
Friday, July 22nd, 2016
Back in 2012, I blogged about a tax guy.
We became acquainted by doing a panel webinar about unique career paths you can take in the accounting profession for what is now AccountingFly. We continue to stay in touch and we both are passionate about tweeting.
His name is Robert Raiola and he is Director of the Sports & Entertainment Group at PKF O’Connor Davies, LLP.
At the time, Robert (@SportsTaxMan) was tweeting on a regular basis about his specialty – sports – and he had a few thousand followers. As of today, Robert has done over 29,800 tweets and has over 51,500 followers – that’s a home run for a CPA.
Just to show you the power of Twitter, it has helped him expand his reputation for being an expert – something every CPA should do – and he has been featured on a national level via Sports Illustrated, ESPN, etc.
David Maister, the guru advisor to professional service firms, always said you have to decide what “you want to be famous for” and then pursue it with passion. How is that working for you?
Below is a recent example of the great exposure being an expert has gotten for Robert. Over the years I have blogged six times about @SportsTaxMan (just type his name in the Search box on the right).
Robert knows what he wants to be famous for and he is achieving it. How about you – think about it this weekend!
- "I would have changed my last name if being famous were my goal."
Thursday, July 21st, 2016
“The worst curse to befall anyone is stagnation, a banal existence, the quiet desperation that comes out of a need for conformity.” – Deepak Chopra
Stagnate: To stop developing, progressing, moving, etc.: to be or become stagnant.
Stagnation: The state of being still, or not moving, like a sitting puddle of water where stagnation attracts mosquitoes.
I think you get the picture. Are you in a state of stagnation? Is your accounting firm in a state of stagnation?
Some people have an excuse for inactivity during this time of year. They call it the dog days of summer.
Dog days: The sultry part of the summer, supposed to occur during the period Sirius, the Dog Star, rises at the same time as the sun (now often reckoned from July 3 to August 11). It is a period marked by lethargy, inactivity, or indolence.
You should have several things on your firm’s Cultural Action Plan. There are some issues that are a high priority yet you find excuses to postpone action.
Don’t stagnate until you are faced with the fall deadlines! The future of your firm is too valuable. Imagine what you could accomplish in the next few weeks before Labor Day!
Don’t be “some people!” Don’t make your firm a puddle attracting mosquitoes.
- "Stagnation is a slow death."
Wednesday, July 20th, 2016
“A nickel isn’t worth a dime anymore.” – Yogi Berra
I have heard firm leaders discuss return on investment relating to technology costs at many partner retreats and meetings. It always seems to be an elusive number and a never-ending conversation. In most cases, these conversations end with the comment partners apply to many things inside a CPA firm – “It costs too much.”
He also reminds us that there are a few key ideas behind what he discusses. Below are the key ideas. Follow this link to read the worthwhile article.
- That you have a technology plan and budget. Our latest National CPA Firm Survey data indicates that only 14% of CPA firms have an IT budget. Firms “spend what is needed” which may or may not be true.
- That each project should have an estimated return. Understand that some projects are dependent on other projects. For example, it is hard to implement eSignature if you don’t have your paperless project pretty far along.
- That you don’t have to implement the latest technology to be successful. However, you won’t gain a significant competitive advantage if you are a technology laggard.
- That, not every technology is for you.
- "Too many people spend money they earned to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like."
Tuesday, July 19th, 2016
“Be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” – Abraham Lincoln
Today’s post is one of those “this happens in real life inside many CPA firms” type stories.
A firm leader has an idea on how to inspire team members to become more involved in marketing and pursuing new business for the firm. They will give a nice bonus ($1,500) to the team member who brings in the most “leads” to the firm on a quarterly basis. The rules are established and well-communicated. The contest will run for a full year – 4 quarters. Team members seem excited about the opportunity.
After the first quarter, a team member named Mike wins the quarterly contest. After the second quarter, Mike wins again.
One partner hears some whining from a few team members that “Mike always wins.” This isn’t fair, etc. He consults with the other partners and they decide to discontinue the contest after the second quarter.
Just an example of how not to retain and inspire top talent.
Often inside accounting firms, the leaders seem to go whichever way the wind blows. A very small minority is unhappy, so let’s punish everyone equally. How many times has everyone received an email about leaving a mess at the coffee station when everyone knows the ONE person who is the offender?
- "Let your soul sand cool and composed before a million universes."
Monday, July 18th, 2016
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” – Warren Buffett
You are a CPA – Certified Public Accountant. You, because of being a CPA, are known as being the most trusted advisor to business and individual clients.
You are in the service business – a very important service business. Can your clients trust you?
Have you ever:
Not returned a phone call to a client in a timely fashion?
Not returned a phone call because you know the client is upset?
Not answered a phone call and told your Director of First Impressions to send the caller to voicemail?
You know a client is waiting on an answer from you so you avoid eating lunch at a restaurant that the client frequents?
Blamed someone else at your firm for a delay in client service when you know it is your fault?
Routinely let your ringing phone go to voicemail even when you know it might a client?
Found out, via an administrative person, that a client is upset about their invoice and want to discuss it with you. They ask that you call them and then you don’t.
It all seems like little things. Sure, you eventually talk to these people and address various issues.
But little things make the biggest difference.
- "Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters."
Sunday, July 17th, 2016
Accountants love numbers. So do teachers. This guy has some interesting numbers for you. Teachers need bumper numbers, too!
Friday, July 15th, 2016
“You seek too much information and not enough transformation.” – Sai Baba
Many CPA firms are struggling with change. It has been going on for years.
I am amazed by this because:
- Change is part of the character of a CPA firm.
- Change is forced upon CPAs all the time.
- The government forces changes on CPAs and they get educated and deal with it.
- CPAs eagerly attend CPE sessions to learn about the new tax “whatever” or to be absolutely positive that they understand the new audit “whatever.”
- So, why do so many lag behind when it comes to internal changes that can make the firm more profitable and competitive in the future?
Now is not the time for making small changes to how your firm operates. It is not the time to defend your daily routine by thinking what you have been doing has worked for years so why change.
Time is running out. More and more of your experienced leaders are nearing retirement. The firm will be forced to address trying to pass the firm down to the next generation or to merge-up in the hopes of solving the problem more quickly.
It’s not time for simple change. It is time for major TRANSFORMATION. Because your firm will not be attractive to people within your firm or to the acquiring firms if you don’t transform your firm.
From the market’s viewpoint all CPA firms look a lot alike. They offer tax, accounting and auditing services. As Seth Godin puts it, “You can buy this from anyone and we’re anyone.”
Don’t just be an “anyone” firm!
It’s Friday. It’s July. Summer is passing by quickly. Think about it this weekend and take proactive steps on Monday to begin your transformation process. Let me know if I can help.
- "Nothing happens until the pain of remaining the same outweighs the pain of change."
Thursday, July 14th, 2016
“If you want to change people’s minds, you need more than evidence. You need persistence.” – Seth Godin
Recently, when I spoke to the 200+ people at this year’s CPAFMA National Practice Management Conference in Baltimore, I stressed to the firm management leaders that PERSEVERANCE pays off when tackling CHANGE in accounting firms. Yes, PERSEVERANCE and PERSISTENCE are the weapons of change.
Change does not come easy for traditional, conservative, risk-adverse CPAs.
That’s why I wanted to share a blog post from Seth Godin. I periodically share a complete post by Godin and I thought the following one SPOKE to those fighting the War For Change inside accounting firms.
The Flip Is Elusive by Seth Godin
For a generation after people realized that smoking would kill them, many smart, informed people still smoked. Then, many of them stopped.
After discovering that an expensive luxury good is made out of the same materials as a cheaper alternative, many people stick with the expensive one. And then they gradually stop going out of their way to pay more.
After a technology breakthrough makes it clear that a new approach is faster, cheaper and more reliable, many people stick with the old way. Until they don’t.
And inevitably, it doesn’t matter how much people discover about their favorite candidate, they seem impervious to revelations, facts and the opinions of others. For a while, sometimes a very long while. But then, they assert that all along they knew something was amiss and find a new person to align with.
Computers don’t work this way. Cats don’t have a relationship like this with hot stoves. Imaginary logical detectives always get the message the first time.
For the rest of us, though, the flip isn’t something that happens at the first glance or encounter with new evidence.
This doesn’t mean the evidence doesn’t matter.
It means that we’re bad at admitting we were wrong.
Bad at giving up one view of the world to embrace the other.
Mostly, we’re bad at abandoning our peers, our habits and our view of ourselves.
If you want to change people’s minds, you need more than evidence. You need persistence. And empathy. And mostly, you need the resources to keep showing up, peeling off one person after another, surrounding a cultural problem with a cultural solution.
- "If you are going through Hell, keep going."
Wednesday, July 13th, 2016
There are a lot of new trends in public accounting. You have read about them here on this blog, in my newsletter and in various publications and blogs for CPAs.
Of course, there are also new trends in other disciplines that affect public accounting. Branding for example.
Per HR Bartender, employment branding is disappearing. Employment branding and consumer branding are being merged together to form ONE company brand. That strong brand will be used to attract and retain clients and employees.
Many firms have done a great job of building a firm brand but most do still have sub-categories under that one brand to attract clients and future employees.
Building ONE brand can serve three purposes: Attract new clients, attract employees and make current employees proud to be part of the firm.
Maybe your brand is unclear, split, confusing or even non-existent. Check out this article on HR Bartender and view the video example from Go Daddy. It is a brand that stresses lots of things, including hard work!
Here’s an excerpt:
If I’m a customer, I know exactly how GoDaddy is going to support me and my business. If I’m a candidate, I understand the GoDaddy culture – the everyday hard work that’s expected to keep customers’ business dreams alive. And if I’m an employee, I’m proud to be a part of that success. One brand. One video. For multiple audiences.
- "You can't get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you're doing. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover will be yourself."