Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Friday, December 19th, 2014

The Good Old Days Are Now – Busy Season Survival Tips

Photo on 12-19-14 at 6.40 AMEarlier this fall, I was delighted when Corey Butler, Communications Coordinator for the Minnesota Society of CPAs contacted me to write an article for their Footnote magazine.

Corey asked if I could share ideas with their readers on creative ways to shed some of that stress that builds during busy season. I have found that CPA firms are very active and creative when it comes to showing their appreciation and helping their teams make it through the busiest time of the year.

I like to say, “the good old days are now” because when I began my career in public accounting, we received one “goody bag” from a local bank (it contained headache medicine, mints, gum and the like) and we were treated to lunch at the country club on April 16th. Of course, we made progress! I was so proud as the firm grew and expanded over the years and became the “cool” CPA firm to work for in our market. Like many firms, we realized the value of retaining top talent.

Thanks to many of my clients and friends for contributing to the article by sharing their activities with me. Also thanks, to Carolyn LaViolette, Communications Manager at MNCPA for sending me some copies of the magazine.

Want some good ideas for this busy season? You can read the article here.

  • Our best thoughts come from others.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Tired Of Seeing A Tree or A Bird?

I still enjoy receiving holiday cards – paper and digital. I am especially delighted when I can tell that someone actually took time to provide a card that is creative and represents their personalities.

So many Christmas and Holiday cards depict a beautiful scene, thus… a tree or a bird. Yes, I love trees and birds but how about something more unique (and fun).  It might be too late this year BUT prepare for next December and design a card that will delight your clients and referral sources.

Here’s the card sent out by my friends at Moore Stephens North AmericaSteve and Alexandra.

Very cool.

steve alex

  • There are no strangers here; only friends you haven't met.
  • William Butler Yeats

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

CPA Managing Partners & CEOs – How Social Are You?

In the corporate world, CEOs who embrace social media are still rare.

“Five years ago, when boards were searching for a leader, social media competency wasn’t even on the radar. Now, according to the board members we interviewed for our book, a strong social presence is often high on the list of factors they consider when vetting CEO candidates.” – – Ted Coine & Mark Babbitt, authors of A World Gone Social.

In an article on HBR, the authors discuss the trend of social CEOs. Only 30% of Fortune 500 CEOs have a presence on at least one social channel.

I believe that in the CPA profession the percent of managing partners that are active on social media is even a lower percentage (I have no research to back this up, just my observation).

What are some attributes that social CEOs like Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington and others have? Here’s a list. How many does your current (and future) managing partner possess?

They have an insatiable Curiosity – What are people saying about our firm?

The have a DIY mindset – They don’t rely on an assistant to do things for them.

They have a “bias for action” – The live by a “ready, fire, aim” mentality. CPA leaders need to significantly speed up their decision-making!

They are relentless givers – Social CEOs aren’t just social for the firm, they value being social in every aspect of their lives. Is your MP out and about on a regular basis in your business community? They can’t be a “numbers” person only.

They connect instead of promote – They are spreading the good word about their firm. They are not self-promoting. How does this play out inside your CPA firm?

They’re the Company’s No. 1 Brand Ambassador – We do not admire leaders who’s firm is seen as autocratic, self-serving and non-caring. Yes, sadly, I hear via my surveys that some CPA firm leaders can be described this way.

They lead with an open mindset – OPEN stands for “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Network” and it means that no one person can have all the answers. They build personal relationships with those willing to help them get answers, a team effort. That’s how it should be at your firm. Seek advice and counsel from your people, your clients and your business associates. The old form of the CPA leader being a benevolent dictator are past.

  • It is quite possible that as the social age matures, there will be only two types of business leaders: social... and retired.
  • Ted Coine

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Helping You Save Time – Here’s A Quick Review Of Last Week’s Posts

It’s a simple thing.      Saving time.      You should try it sometime.

Yes, I am being sarcastic again. As you know, working inside a busy, growing CPA firm, it is very important to always be aware of saving time and wasting time. This applies if you still record time daily or if you are a value-pricing firm.

I worked very hard last week to do my part to:  Enlighten you – Give you ideas – Encourage you to be your best – Help you (and your people) earn more money – Be more appreciative of each other – And so on. Plus, never forget that a leader MUST read – often and a variety of things and topics.

Here’s a list of last week’s posts. If one or more grabs your attention, you might want to read it quickly as you start your week:

Monday:  CPAs Will Leave Your Firm – No Matter What Time of Year – Yes, people quit CPA firm jobs in tax season these days.

Tuesday: Identify Future Leaders Early, Part I – Gary Boomer’s article inspired me to elaborate. Be sure you communicate to your young people the benefits of a long career in public accounting.

Wednesday: Identify Future Leaders Early, Part II – My thoughts relating to Boomer’s article were too extensive for just one blog post. So, Here are 10 characteristics to look for in identifying future leaders.

Thursday:  Apologies – Don’t point fingers. Don’t play the blame game. It wastes too much time.

Friday:  Make It Easy For Your Clients – Starbucks Does – Do you avoid client phone calls at times? Do your managers rarely answer their phone, preferring to let it go to voice mail?

Don’t forget my Saturday post “Lighten-Up” post (off topic, humorous or even weird). Holy weekend, Batman!

  • The MORE that you READ, the more THINGS you will KNOW. The MORE you LEARN, the more PLACES you'll GO!
  • Dr. Seuss

Friday, November 28th, 2014

Don’t Use Stock Photos On Your Website – Use Your People

One reason I think it is important to use pictures of your accounting firm team members on your website is the simple fact that it gives them exposure, makes them noteworthy to their friends and makes their family proud.

The argument I usually get from practitioners is… “If Suzy leaves then we have to change the website!” – – You should be continually updating and changing your website anyway – it is a living thing, not a history book.

Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk of bbr marketing addresses this issue in her recent newsletter and on a blog post, The Dangers of Stock Photography.

In case you haven’t noticed, it is world filled with pictures now – yes, selfies and more! People like to see pictures of the real people working at your firm. Make sure your entire team is on your website. Your clients really do like to see the people they work with and prospects want reassurance you and your team are real.

Here’s an example of a best-place-to-work firm with pictures of real people – Santos Postal in Rockville, Maryland.

Also, just my opinion, if you have a LinkedIn account and don’t have your picture there – people think you must be weird!

  • The camera can photograph thought.
  • Dirk Bogarde

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

Being Happy

Earlier this week, I blogged about Pope Francis and his message to accountants.

As I was doing research on that blog post, I came across another important message from the Pope and Thanksgiving seemed a perfect day for sharing Pope Francis’s secrets to happiness.

  1. Live and let live
  2. Be giving of yourself to others
  3. Proceed calmly
  4. A healthy sense of leisure
  5. Sundays should be holidays
  6. Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people
  7. respect and take care of nature
  8. Stop being negative
  9. Don’t proselytise; respect others’ beliefs
  10. Work for peace

To me, a few of these are exactly on target for those working inside accounting firms.

Live and let live – – Don’t micro manage. Don’t gossip and worry about what other employees are doing.

Be giving of yourself to others – – but some structure around your mentoring activities. Mentoring happens naturally inside CPA firms – enhance it and help others.

Sundays should be holidays – – When I began my career in a CPA firm, no one EVER worked on a Sunday. It had nothing to do about religion, specifically, it was just that our founder believed that everyone needed a day of rest, a time to recharge. The more hours you work in a week the bigger chance you will make errors or poor decisions.

Stop being negative – – I see this all the time.  I continually say to people working in CPA firms – STOP WHINING!  Public accounting is an honorable, prestigious career, you work with intelligent people, you work in beautiful offices, you make friends with other top-quality professionals, you get to see businesses grow and prosper (with your help), you become admired by others in the business community for your expertise – – focus on the positive!

In closing, just so you know, I count YOU (all the dedicated readers of my blog posts) as blessings in my life. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Be happy.

Thanksgiving

  • Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
  • William Arthur Ward

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Mindfulness – Maybe Some CPAs Should Learn More About It

Public accounting really is a somewhat stressful profession. It doesn’t have to be. Many CPAs work diligently, serve clients well, make a great living and are not often stressed.

On the other hand, I come in contact with many of those who are almost the opposite. They are working WAY too many hours, dealing with many last minute crisis situations relating to due dates, worrying about keeping top talent, and obtaining successful, growing clients. Their plates are absolutely too full and they don’t take enough time off to vacation and enjoy life.

Ellen Langer, professor of psychology at Harvard, is an expert on mindfulness and here’s how she describes what it is:

Mindfulness is the process of actively noticing new things. When you do that, it puts you in the present. It makes you more sensitive to context and perspective. It’s the essence of engagement. And it’s energy-begetting, not energy-consuming. The mistake most people make is to assume it’s stressful and exhausting, doing all this thinking. But what’s stressful is all the mindless negative evaluations we make and the worry that we’ll find problems and not be able to solve them.

We seek stability. We want to hold things still, thinking that if we do, we can control them. (Sound like someone at your firm?) But since everything is always changing, that doesn’t work. Actually, it causes you to lose control. Read more about Langer here.

When you mention “mindfulness” to a CPA here’s the image that pops up: Someone blissed out on a yoga mat, possibly with spa music playing in the background. In other words, it has nothing to do with the situation you likely find yourself in on any given Tuesday.

In a Fast Company article, the author of Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alernative, Scott Eblin says, “What I mean by mindful is being aware and intentional – aware of what’s going on around you, aware of what’s going on inside you as a response to what’s going on around you, and being intentional about what you’re going to do next.”

In busy accounting firms, some leaders are often not at all tuned in to what is really happening around them. They are self-focused – their priorities are everyone’s priorities.

Here are some tips on embracing mindfulness at work.

  • When's the last time you tried listening to someone without an agenda, and without distractions?
  • Scott Eblin

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Angie Grissom

My friend, Angie Grissom, President of The Rainmaker Companies, stressed some important insights in their recent newsletter.

Albert Einstein once said,To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.”

The best leaders get comfortable with being uncomfortable. They know that what once worked for their business, may not always continue to work. We will see this when working with firm leaders that are nearing retirement. The way in which your firm grew over the last 30 years is probably not the way it will grow in the next 30 years. We need to have a culture that is open to this reality.

Angie and the team members at Rainmaker have certainly embraced change and creativity during 2014. Read more about about what they have done in here.

  • Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
  • Albert Einstein

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Time To Get Registered for Winning Is Everything

I’m delighted to be speaking at Winning Is Everything in January in Las Vegas. I will also be learning SO much by getting the latest scoop on what’s happening in CPA firm management – join me and let’s learn together!

No matter what size your firm, you need to train so that you can stay competitive in the game of public accounting. No better place to train than at Winning is Everything 2015. WIE has caught up with industry front-runners to bring you the latest in practice management content.

Whether pressing your finest professionals to flex their talent muscle, or relaying your brand’s message to fuel business development, this year’s WIE is focused on coaching for leaner and tougher performance. Together, let’s train as we clear the hurdles and win the practice management challenge.

tulganbruceThe dates are: January 28-30, 2015 at the beautiful Aria Resort in Las Vegas.

Here are the details.

Check out the amazing list of speakers – Keynote is Bruce Tulgan.

  • There's a tremendous demand for skilled people at all levels of almost every organization and almost every industry and that's true in almost every part of the country.
  • Bruce Tulgan

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Avoid The Blame Game

An observation – inside many accounting firms, people point fingers.

When something goes wrong there are always those who want to know who did it. “Find out how this happened! Who’s responsible?”

When something goes wrong, don’t focus on WHO to blame. Focus on HOW you and your team can improve a process to avoid making a similar mistake in the future.

Have some faith and trust in your team members and seek their input on how to improve your processes and procedures. They are the ones on the front line.

 

  • Your life is the fruit of your own doing. You have no one to blame but yourself.
  • Joseph Campbell