Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

The Cloud Accountant

“Those without self-awareness do not look to improve, often because they do not think they need to.” – Jessica Daley

I talk with so many practitioners who struggle with the belief that they should employ remote employees. Whether you are convinced or not, it is a rapidly growing component of the accounting profession.

I recently read an article, 3 Essential Personality Traits of a Cloud Accountant by Jessica Daley of Xcelerate Business Solutions.

I enjoyed her article but was even more impressed when I visited the Xcelerate website.

Here’s the opening paragraph of the article. Does it sound like you and your team?

Today, flourishing in accounting requires a new way of thinking. It is less about the technical expertise and number-crunching, and more about whether you can handle systems, communicate well, innovate, solve problems, and build a rapport with your clients. If someone on your team is unable to do this, their accounting expertise does not matter—they simply will not be a very good accountant in the client’s eyes.

The 3 essential personality traits:

Curiosity – Your have to be curious about all the apps and technology so you can help your clients make the most of them.

Pride – You and your staff must have pride in what you do. You take ownership of your work and solve client problems.

Self-awareness – In the author’s opinion, this is the most important trait. You need to be aware of what you do not know.

Read more about these 3 traits here.

  • My best staff are relentless in their ownership of a client.
  • Jessica Daley

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

Never Be Complacent About Collections

“The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.” – Theodore Roosevelt

When you don’t have a documented collection policy and procedures to facilitate collection of past due accounts, you are demotivating your people.

You might think that the team members don’t realize which clients are late on payment. Get real, they all know. If you ask them to work on assignments and they fully realize that this particular client is a “collection problem,” why would they be excited about doing the work efficiently and timely?

More importantly, why loan money to slow paying clients? That is what you are doing and your CPA firm is acting as a lender for the client.

Why does this happen so often inside CPA firms and other SME’s? It is because leaders are afraid that chasing payments might negatively impact the client relationship. Remember this, if you have a client who does not pay….. they are not a client. “I provide the service and you pay me.” – that is the basis for a client relationship.

Of course, there are times when certain clients might be struggling and delaying payment is an alternative. But, work out a payment plan, spread over several months so that they can eventually catch-up. The most important thing is communication with the client before they get too far behind.

Communicate your billing and collection policies upfront when you initially meet with a new client. When a client becomes “past due,” do not wait until they are 120 days past due to contact them. If you expect payment at 30 days and they have not paid, send them an email on day 31. Call them on day 40. Always send monthly accounts receivable statements. Designate a person to handle collections and make it their highest priority.

Communication is key. I have encountered partners who would actually dodge a phone call from a client if it was about collection!

Most progressive firms have a stop work policy. If a client is past due by 90 days (you decide on how many), all work stops until they make full payment or work out a payment plan and make the first payment. If they miss a payment, work stops.

I often get questions about 1040 clients who are slow to pay. If they are a collection problem this year, they are a COD client next year (they must pay before their work is released). If they are a continuing collection problem, they pay upfront before work begins.

I’m not talking about harassing clients, I am talking about embracing good business practices – collect what is owed to you and encourage your clients to do the same with their customers.

  • You do not lead by hitting people over the head - that's assault, not leadership.
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

Four Important Questions

rob-nixon-blogprofile2copy“Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.” – Carol Burnett

Today, I want you to read an insightful and empowering post by Rob Nixon, founder of Panalitix, titled The 4 Most Important Questions to Ask

Here’s an excerpt to lead you in….

Let’s park the issues and reasons why you should not be a time selling business and focus on the intellectual capital business. That’s what you really sell so let’s focus on that.

 

  • Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.
  • Helen Keller

Monday, January 8th, 2018

Time

“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” – Bruce Lee

A good friend sent me this. We are all so obsessed with time yet we waste so much of it.

Be More Respectful to Time: I heard someone last year say, “if we see someone throwing money away, we call that person crazy. Yet we see others, and ourselves, throwing “time” away almost every day and think or say nothing of it.” I constantly have to remind myself of the importance of time and the fact it is truly a finite, expendable resource. What makes it so difficult to value is the fact we never know when it will run out or completely end. What’s even more crazy is the fact we can’t make any more once it’s gone! An English author named Arnold Bennett once said, “You have to live on this 24 hours of time. Out of it you have to spin health, pleasure, money, content, respect and the evolution of your immortal soul. Its right use…is a matter of the highest urgency.”

  • The strongest of all warriors are these two - - Time and Patience.
  • Leo Tolstoy

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

Searching For a Mentor

“My mentor said, ‘Let’s go do it,’ not ‘You go do it.’ How powerful when someone says, ‘Let’s!'” – Jim Rohn

So, you want to make some changes this year. You want to implement some important initiatives at the firm and you also want to make some changes, personally.

A mentor would be a good idea. Someone to hold you accountable and to actually help you along the road of change.

How do you choose a mentor? Here are some things to consider:

Experience – Make sure your potential mentor has been through what you are facing. Do they have the appropriate background to help answer your questions and give you guidance?

Communication – Determine what communication style works best for both of you. A potential mentor might prefer conversations in person or by phone. Another might prefer to have more of an online type relationship.

Life-stage: Has the potential mentor been through the life-stage that is currently giving you significant challenges? Can they give you practical and applicable advice and tools?

Over the last couple of years, mentoring and coaching people working in the CPA profession has become my most requested service. In fact, I only have a couple of slots open for monthly mentoring clients. Maybe I can help you. Contact me if you want to just talk about your situation. I offer a no obligation consultation.

  • Our chief want in life is somebody who will make us do what we can.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

Beat The Clock

“We didn’t lose the game, we just ran out of time.” – Vince Lombardi

Seth Godin blogged recently and asked, “What about sprints?”

My husband, in his youth, was a track athlete, plus baseball, basketball and whatever other sport was offered. Track was his best and favorite. He trained by doing sprints.

Many people training for their first 5k, walk for a while and then sprint for a minute or two (or more). Most people can’t sustain sprints for very long.

Maybe in your work, you need to try some sprints. Rather than having two speeds – work hard then rest (watching Netflix.. whatever you do when you go home), add a third speed… sprint.

Sometimes it is amazing what you can get done in a short period of time when you completely focus, shut out the rest of the world and just sprint.

A good friend of mine, Linda Watson – a CPA firm marketing consultant – always recommends playing “Beat the Clock” when she has an important article, promo piece or procedure to write. She sets aside one hour to focus and write like crazy – no interruptions. When the hour ends, she stops and is often amazed by what she can turn out in one hour.

I often take her advice and focus intently for one hour on an issue or challenge to see what I can accomplish. I sprint!

You might try it when you are stuck and short on time.

  • If you got the money honey I got the time and when you run out of money I run out of time.
  • Willie Nelson

Thursday, December 28th, 2017

More Productive

“Being rich is having money; being wealthy is having time.” – Margaret Bonnano

I recently read an interesting article via HBR on how to be more productive and still reduce the hours your work.

A Gallup poll found that 40% of U.S. workers “were so stressed out they felt burned out”. Stress and anxiety are cited in 70% of calls placed to phone-counseling lines at Workplace Options, a provider of employee- assistance programs. The vast majority of professionals (94%) worked 50 hours or more a week and almost half worked more than 65 hours a week.

You can see why I found the article interesting. Working in public accounting often requires stressful and long hours! Fortunately, many of the more progressive firms have realized the damage excessive hours can cause and have focused more on life/work balance.

The author (Matt Plummer) of the article and a friend set out on a mission to be more productive and work less hours. They set a simple goal, work 10% less hours than their traditional average. For you, in public accounting, working 50 hours per week, it would mean getting the same amount of work accomplished by working 45 hours per week.

How productive are you? Do you even know how much time you actually waste at work during a typical week? Think about it. I bet you can be more productive by working less hours! I urge you to read the article and enlist others to try it at your CPA firm.

Firm leaders, don’t demand that people work a certain number of hours, they can do that without thinking. Rather, focus on results – on what actually gets accomplished during a typical week.

  • Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.
  • Peter Drucker

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Sanity Time

“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” – Edgar Allan Poe

This morning, I had 50 minutes of sanity time. Here’s the official definition of sanity:

San·i·ty:  the ability to think and behave in a normal and rational manner; sound mental health.

For the last few weeks, and especially the last several days, I have been more in a panic mode than a sanity mode.

I’ve been rushing around trying to get EVERYTHING done. As many of you know, my husband broke his leg in October and he is still not allowed to put any weight on it… so he needs quite a bit of care plus, he has always done SO much around the house. Yes, I actually have to cook now! Then it is the normal demands of the Christmas season… shopping, baking, wrapping, mailing – some of which got dropped this year.

This morning, I had to take my car to the dealership for a recall notice repair. Had to be done before December 31st. So, I just waited (about 50 minutes) for them to complete the work. I sat in the waiting room, helped myself to a cup of coffee and just glanced at my phone and looked out the window at the sunny day. I couldn’t jump up and get something for my husband. Couldn’t load the dishwasher, couldn’t do laundry, couldn’t do shopping – my online shopping was complete. I did not answer emails from my clients (who also seem frantic and needy right now). I just relaxed and it was wonderful.

Maybe you can find some sanity time over this long holiday weekend. Sneak away if you have to and find a quiet place with no one else you know near you (and don’t talk to strangers like I usually do). You might find a coffee shop, a library or the waiting room of a dealership and do nothing worthwhile for an hour. Of course, I did a lot of THINKING during that 50 minutes – I hope you will include that activity in your sanity time.

  • Sanity is a madness put to good use.
  • George Santayana

Monday, December 18th, 2017

Frustrated With The Annual Performance Review?

“Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence – only in constant improvement and constant change.” – Tom Peters

I am so pleased to be part of the lead article for the December issue of the Journal of Accountancy. The article is by Anna Reitman.

It is titled: Want to jettison the annual performance review? – Here’s how some organizations are making the change.

As I have often stated, in many CPA firms, the reviewers and those being reviewed have come to dread the annual ordeal. This article examines changes that firms have made, the pitfalls they have encountered, and the results of their efforts.

I hope you find it helpful if your firm is considering making a change. Contact me if you need help.

 

  • I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.
  • Elon Musk

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

It Won’t Be The Same Tomorrow

“Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.” – Arnold Bennett

If you are retirement age, working in a CPA firm, it might be a good time to actually retire.

Here’s an informative, brief blog titled, “What is an Accountant? It Won’t be the Same Tomorrow” by Todd Cheney.

So much of what you have done (or supervised) during your professional life will be done by automation. Young people will need to be equipped to do consulting work much sooner. Almost half of your new hires won’t be accountants. Very soon – NOT the distant future – you will have to change your work skills drastically.

But, there is such opportunity if you are will to invest in drastic change. Mark Belfance, a Managing Partner at the accounting titan EY, sees it as a positive for both clients and employees. “When you take away the mundane, we get the opportunity to give our people differentiated experiences and they become those business advisors sooner. That’s what our clients want.”

If you struggle with accepting change and if you and your firm are really good at the mundane, it’s a rocky road ahead.

  • Action is the foundational key to all success.
  • Pablo Picasso