I visit CPA firm websites all the time. I want to see what YOU are doing and how you are doing it. I want to see the firms that “get it” and the firms that have no clue. It helps me with ideas for this blog and ways I can assist my clients.
Recently I visited a site and the firm did have a blog link at the top of the page. However, the page was blank. Frequently, I visit CPA firm blog sites and the last blog post was six months ago or longer. If you do blog, do it on a regular schedule – weekly or monthly – be consistent.
Don’t shy away from blogging. You have some great business minds within your firm and CPAs have so much to write about and to share. The writing itself is a great way to reflect upon your work and your professional purpose.
Try blogging, you will like it! It’s only two or three paragraphs. If no one follows, it is still a good mental exercise. The more you blog the better you get. Then people will follow and you’ll attract new clients to your firm.
Watch this short video from Seth Godin, one of the most famous bloggers and Tom Peters.
I do not over-intellectualize the production process. I try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story.
“If YOU don’t believe in YOU enough to invest in YOU then don’t be surprised when others don’t invest in YOU.” – Grant Cardone
I am often disappointed in some less experienced people working in public accounting when I learn that they always EXPECT the firm to pay for ALL of their learning and continuing education.
Some even expect the firm to pay for a book that might help them with self-improvement.
The investment in yourself is the best investment you can ever make. The “firm,” for one reason or another, won’t pay for you to attend a specific conference, seminar or meeting. Maybe you should pay for it yourself if you really believe it will enhance your career advancement. Maybe you should buy some self-improvement books, tapes, podcasts or apps and actually read them and listen to them.
Commuting time could turn into a motivational session.
“The best business advice I’ve ever been given was from my mother, who was never actually in business,” the self-made millionaire tells CNBC. “She said, ‘The best investment you will ever make is in yourself.It’s a no lose deal. It will always give you a return. Nobody can take it from you. It’s yours.'”
I’m not your mother but my advice to you – no matter what your age: Invest in yourself!
Success will not come knock on your front door. You must go find it.
“Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell.” – Seth Godin
Sally, a new manager in a growing CPA firm has just been told that to become a partner in the firm, she must be able to bring new business and increase revenue for the firm.
Sally is in shock. She had never realized that it was absolutely necessary to bring in business if she wanted to be a partner. After all, it is the life-blood of the firm.
Here are three simple tips to help people like Sally in your firm. It might also be very helpful to people who are already partners!
Build a relationship first. You meet someone at a Chamber event or other business mixer. They appear to have a thriving business. Talk to them about business, in general. Follow-up with an invitation to lunch or breakfast but don’t try to “sell” anything until you have connected, met and established common ground. Yes, this might take a while. Get to know them before you sell them.
Listen. Most prospective clients will be anxious to tell you what they want. Listen to them and then be prepared to tell them what they really need. Good listening skills are a critical part of selling.
Tell stories. Tell them success stories about the firm’s team members (including partners). Tell them how a specific team member has succeeded. Tell them success stories about how your firm has solved business challenges for clients. Tell them how you would like to help them (not how you want to sell them services).
You can also use these three steps to win clients via online activities.
Relationship: Use blogs, articles, news items, tax updates and other helpful information to build a relationship. That means you must have a website that is engaging – not something all about the firm. A site that people will visit often because it is helpful.
Listen: Make it easy for them to submit a question or make contact online. Make searching for how to make contact very easy. Offer a free initial consultation that can be done in person, via phone, via email or online video.
Stories: Use interesting bios about your people and how they have become successful. Tell success stories via tweets, Linkedin, Facebook even Instagram. Develop testimonials from some of your best clients and post them on your website. Testimonials are so powerful. The prospect might think, “Oh, Joe Smith uses this firm. His business seems to be growing like crazy!”
Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world.
“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” – Vince Lombardi
Want a simple way to train and develop your people? Try repetition.
Think about how your new college recruits learn to become skilled accountants and CPAs. In many firms, it goes like this. You train them on basic auditing. You may send them to a 3-day training course sponsored by your firm association, state society or inside your own firm. You may do it online. But it is very focused.
Then they are assigned to engagement after engagement where they do the same thing over and over until they “get it.” Then they receive a more difficult task and they do it over and over until they become proficient, and so on. They become more and more skilled, they ask great questions and learn from others, they make mistakes and correct them and over time their confidence and skill become top notch.
People learn from repetition. It is much more effective than a one or two-day training session.
You expect your managers to bring in new business and they aren’t very good at it. This also applies to some partners, they are not able to do the basic function of a partner – perpetuate the firm. Why not apply repetition to teaching people in your firm how to sell.
You best rainmakers are the teachers. Ask them to always have a shadow (less experienced person) when they meet with a client. When they meet with a prospect. When they meet with a referral source. When they attend a business networking event. When they attend a charitable fund-raising function. When they attend a Chamber of Commerce meeting. You get the idea.
Expose them over and over again to business development situations. Have them try it on their own – over and over again. Repetition solidifies skills.
Don't join an easy crowd. You won't grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are achieve are igh.
“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” – Socrates
Last week during a partner retreat I was facilitating, the “busy” topic came up and was explored.
The participants all indicated that they truly felt they were too busy to focus on some of the important challenges facing the firm. They didn’t like feeling like that, but never the less, they did.
When you dig deep into why you are too busy it usually uncovers the fact that it is because of the choices you make.
Kids these days are scheduled almost 24/7. When do they have time to play outside, wade in a stream or collect beautiful colored leaves in the fall?
Adults have work that is filled with answering emails and attending meetings plus responsibilities on the home front, such as raising children. When do they have time to actually think, daydream, relax and examine the life they are living?
Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” What did he mean by that? Here’s an explanation:
Socrates‘ claim that the unexamined life is not worth living makes a satisfying climax for the deeply principled arguments that Socrates presents on behalf of the philosophical life. The claim is that only in striving to come to know ourselves and to understand ourselves do our lives have any meaning or value.
In your CPA work life, if you are always saying you are so busy or too busy, why would clients and referral sources refer others to you? Make it a rule to never say the “B” (busy) word in the office. Anyone caught saying BUSY must drop $1.00 into the money jar in the break room. Soon you will have enough for a great party!
It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?
“Timid salespeople have skinny kids.” – Zig Ziglar
As I am wrapping up my retreat season, some things have been on my mind. When facilitating retreats, I often see the Good, the Bad and the Ugly!
As your firm grows, be sure to free-up the managing partner and other partners from being responsible for management items. Hire people to build and maintain the management infrastructure and hold the partners accountable for partner-type activities.
CPAs were not and are not trained in HR, marketing, administration, technology… they are trained accountants and financial advisors. They should focus on what they are good at and do what the most skilled CPA partners do. That is, take care of clients, train and mentor younger accountants and bring in new business for the firm. Even if they are not strong rainmakers, they do have strong client relationships and should focus on increased services for current clients.
If you are not taking care of your client, your competitor will.
I enjoyed a recent post from Leadership Freak (Dan Rockwell) discussing ways leaders drive people nuts.
It won’t surprise any of you that this topic applies to the CPA profession.
I hear reports from my clients (and other firms) frequently about certain partners being a problem.
There is the KNOW IT ALL partner, talks constantly often repeating the same theme over and over again and never listening to others. Often, nothing is done about this partner’s behavior.
There is the WILD CARD partner, the one people actually worry about how they are advising their clients. Often, nothing is done about this partner’s behavior.
There is the RETIRED IN PLACE partner, the one who comes in late, leaves early, plays a lot of golf and contributes very little toward moving the firm forward. Often, nothing is done about this partner’s behavior.
There is the CONTROL FREAK partner, actually works too hard and doesn’t seem to trust staff members, support professionals, admin, or even other partners, to help them with their workload. Often, nothing is done about this partner’s behavior.
Here are Leadership Freak’s 3 ways leaders drive people nuts – see if you agree (or see if it sound like you)!
#1 They respond emotionally to problems, failure, or tough situations.
#2 They show up unprepared for meetings.
#3 They appear disinterested during one on ones.
He also lists seven more ways…. read his article here. To me, these 7 Ways certainly apply to some public accounting firm bosses.
Oh yes, about those partners’ behaviors, maybe you should coach them up!
The speed with which the future is demolishing the present was a major concern for many of the profession’s leaders, who worry that accountants are “not adapting to the fast pace of change fast enough,” according to Maryland Association of CPAs CEO Tom Hood. “Many CPAs are stuck in the current state and not taking the time to be aware, predictive and adaptive to the changes facing our profession. This is causing them to delay making changes necessary to leverage technology, develop succession plans and next-generation leaders.”
The rate at which technology changes —and the slower rate at which accountants adapt to it — was a frequent worry. “It is difficult to keep up with the pace of innovation today,” said Antonio Argiz, chairman and CEO of Top 100 Firm MBAF. “More firms are moving towards cloud computing, which raises more cybersecurity issues than we have had to account for before. Also, staying up-to-date with the changes in technology and innovation in the audit field will be challenging, especially for smaller firms where upgrading can be cost prohibitive.”
Technology thought leader and partner at WithumSmith+Brown Jim Bourke echoed that: “The impact of technological changes in the profession … is changing the game and how financial information will be viewed in the future. Firms that are stuck in the traditional compliance reporting role will be forced to change or will be left behind.”
Avoiding that fate will require accountants to develop greater expertise, said Confirmation.com founder Brian Fox. “The most important issue is the change that needs to take place in order for our CPAs to be effective in the future — specifically I’m referring to the need for CPAs to have a much higher level of education when it comes to technology.”