Archive for the ‘Partner topics’ Category

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

Problems

“The work is to solve problems in a way that you’re proud of.” – Seth Godin

I love the above quotation from a post by Seth Godin. He is describing what it means to be an entrepreneur.

I believe that this quote describes my mission. I work to help my CPA firm clients solve problems, as the quote says, in a way that I am proud of. Often, it is very challenging, mostly because the problems I am trying to help solve can be solved by a simple solution – change.

You, working in a CPA firm, have the same exact mission. It’s not preparing tax returns or financial statements, it is solving problems for your clients and helping them make needed changes to be more profitable and successful.

Begin looking at your work this way. If you are solving problems, word will spread and you will have more clients. Solving problems is a great way to market.

  • We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
  • Albert Einstein

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

Processes

“I follow three rules: Do the right thing, do the best you can, and always show people you care.” – Lou Holtz

How did your processes and procedures work during your busy season? Be sure you contemplate this question. Also, be sure you ask your people how they thought the processes worked this season.

Now is the time to work toward making NEXT year better. Identify trouble spots and spend some time analyzing.

I have observed that in many firms they have very well-thought-out processes and they work well until you get to the partner level and then things fall apart.

As a partner, are you a partner or a sole-proprietor working in a multi-partner firm? Is your firm a one-firm firm or a silo firm? Do you act as though, because you are a partner, the rules don’t apply to you?

One-firm firms grow and prosper much quicker and easier than silo firms.

If you are the leader of the firm, maybe you need a partner commitment statement that declares partners will follow the firm’s processes, procedures, and guidelines. Your people will thank you!

  • If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.
  • Katharine Hepburn

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

Accountability

“Leaders inspire accountability through their ability to accept responsibility before they place blame.” – Courtney Lynch

There are a lot of conversations in public accounting firm circles about accountability. Practitioners ask, “How do we hold people accountable?” They want to know exactly what to do and what to say.

In an accounting firm, it is almost always from the top down. As leaders, you want your people to be held accountable for their performance or lack thereof.

Keep in mind, accountability is a two-way street. If you are holding your people accountable for their performance, they should also be holding you accountable for your performance.

Is that happening at your firm? Do the members of your partner group hold each other accountable? Do you welcome upward feedback so that you are accountable to everyone in the firm?

  • Go into every interaction with those who work for you believing that you are as accountable to them for your performance as they are to you for their performance.
  • Jim Whitehurst

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

Strategy and Tactics

“Hope is not a strategy.” – Vince Lombardi

Sometimes, accountants get so wrapped up in tactics that they forget about strategy and vice versa. Distinguishing between tactics and strategy sometimes get very blurry inside CPA firms.

I don’t often include an entire blog post by Seth Godin in my own blog post. But, today is one of those days because I think it is very important for you, and your firm, to clearly understand tactics and strategy. Here it is:

Why even bother to think about strategy?

There’s confusion between tactics and strategy. It’s easy to get tied up in semantic knots as you work to figure out the distinction. It’s worth it, though, because strategy can save you when tactics fail.

If a tactic fails, you should consider abandoning it.

But that doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with your strategy. Your strategy is what you keep doing even after you walk away from a tactic.

A real estate broker could decide that her goal is to get more listings.

And her strategy is to achieve that by becoming the most trusted person in town.

There are then 100 tactics she can use to earn that trust. She can coordinate events, sponsor teams, host community meetings in her office, sponsor the local baseball team, be transparent about her earnings, hire countless summer interns at a fair wage, run seminars at the local library, etc. …

It doesn’t matter if one or two or five of the tactics aren’t home runs. They add up.

But if once, just once, she violates someone’s trust and expectations, the entire strategy goes out the window.

Tactics are disposable.

Strategy is for the long haul.

  • Strategy is about setting yourself apart from the competition. It’s not a matter of being better at what you do – it’s a matter of being different at what you do.
  • Michael Porter

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

Getting Partners to Change

“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me. You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” – Walt Disney

I hear comments like the following over and over again:

  • We’re stuck.
  • We’ve plateaued.
  • We have this one partner who won’t budge.
  • I know my partners and they are not going to change, so let’s focus on our young accountants.
  • Our partners are too comfortable.
  • I honestly don’t want the hassle involved with trying to get them to change.
  • Our owners simply don’t value firm management.
  • He is our rainmaker and he’s going to do things his way.
  • Most of our partners just aren’t very good businessmen.
  • We are just waiting for some of them to retire.
  • Our partners don’t want feedback from staff. They don’t want to hear it.

These are REAL comments I have heard in my discussions with managing partners and I could give you many more.  I know firms who have hired very expensive marketing and sales consultants to help their partners learn how to bring in new business.  I know firms who have hired extremely high-level ($25,000 plus for six months) personal coaches to help owners develop better relationship skills (relationships with other partners, staff, and even their own families).  Short-term change happens but it doesn’t last for very long.

When I hear these stories, it makes me sad.  I shake my head in sympathy (that’s usually what the whiner wants at that point in the conversation) and then I ask, “What are YOU going to do about it?”  That question is something they don’t want to hear.

I agree that you can’t change the basic personality of a CPA partner, but that partner can change their behaviors. If they want to. Most people inside CPA firms, who really need to change their behaviors to help make the firm more successful, really do not want to.  They have no reason to change.

You must develop a culture of accountability. I recommend applying constant, gentle pressure to complacent partners. Don’t back-off.  Plus, YOU have to give them a reason to change.

  • By not holding your partners accountable, you are promoting mediocrity, rather than excellence.
  • Gary Boomer

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Get Motivated – Take Action

joey-havens2_18-748750-edited“We need a wake-up call.” – Joey Havens

I follow Joey Havens, Executive Partner at Horne LLP on Twitter. His tweets often lead me to his blog posts and, to put it simply, he writes really good stuff!

Here’s one of his posts I want to encourage you to read – Mind the Gap: A Wake-Up Call for Professional Services Firms.

We see it every day—automation, implemented well, reduces the amount of compliance work we perform.

We experience it every day—fierce competition from outside our profession pursuing our clients. 

We feel it every day—the market for professional services is demanding and opening the door for “higher value services.”

You know you have to become a true business advisor and consultant but for some, it is a big leap from doing the comfortable compliance work. Take a minute or two to read his blog and follow him on Twitter.

  • It is always a wake-up call to get beat.
  • Usain Bolt

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

The Truth About Your Legacy – An Important Message From Alan Weiss

“Just because you are over 50 it doesn’t mean you are finished.” – Alan Weiss

I am sure many of you are aware of Alan Weiss. If not, read his full bio here. When I began my consulting activities many peers recommended the first thing I should do is read his book, Million Dollar Consulting.

When I recently read the description of his new book, it definitely caught my attention. I believe many CPAs should definitely be building their legacy now. The title is, Threescore And More Applying the Assets of Maturity, Wisdom, and Experience for Personal and Professional Success.

Here is Alan’s message:

In our 40s, most of us are tied to a career that requires considerable investment to nurture and sustain. We overlook the legacy that we are—or are not—creating daily.

“Legacy” is not only what we leave to those we love when we’re gone. Our legacy is actually a daily contribution to others, and our duty is to keep adding to and improving it.

It’s poor planning to try to enhance our corporate performance the day prior to a promotion decision. It’s ridiculous to try to create a particular, lasting impression for others on your deathbed. And it’s insane to think that you can change your relationship with family on the eve of a marriage, divorce, or departure.

Are we all in agreement? The last minute doesn’t work.

We mistakenly look to the distant future for our “legacy” to take shape. But the fact is that each day we write a new page in our growing autobiography. The question is, how interesting and appealing is the book? Or is it filled with boring pages and repetitive chapters?

The horizon is closer. That distant line demarking the border of sea and sky has become more delineated, more visible, more imposing. We still have room between us and the horizon, but we realize every day there’s less of it. There’s less time. Because in our 40s, most of us have already lived far more than half of our productive life.

We go from thinking “there’s plenty of time” to “there’s still time, but for what?” We’re all familiar with the adage that no one on their death bed wishes they had spent more time in the office. But what we don’t acknowledge is that most people don’t fear death so much as they regret the things they never got around to doing.  

That’s why our book has to have new pages daily, new chapters monthly. We can’t stop the approach of the horizon, but we can fill the distance with meaningful productivity and contribution.

With Threescore and More, discover what you can do to create your legacy while the horizon is still in view. Here’s how to increase your power, not surrender it; how to improve your influence, not diminish it; how to utilize your experiences in the future rather than pine after them in the past.

Each day you have left is an opportunity to write a new page in your story.

Order before April 8, 2018 for special bonuses.

P.S. Remember—You can always make another dollar, but you can never make another minute.

© Alan Weiss 2018

 

  • Ageism is too often an accepted form of bias, even though the facts support the value of aging.
  • Alan Weiss

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

Don’t Worry About Your Competition

“Do your work with your whole heart and you will succeed – there is so little competition.” – Elbert Hubbard

I have known CPA partners who seem to be obsessed with their competition. What are they doing extra for their clients? Are they allowing their people to wear jeans every day? How much are they paying their staff?

Forget it. Worry about yourself first.

I enjoyed this quote shared by Bill Sheridan on Linkedin:

“Your competition is not other people but the time you kill, the ill will you create, the knowledge you neglect to learn, the connections you fail to build, the health you sacrifice along the path, your inability to generate ideas, the people around you who don’t support and love your efforts, and whatever god you curse for your bad luck.” — James Altucher

  • There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.
  • Indira Gandhi

Thursday, March 1st, 2018

Decide Who Will Decide

“It is not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” – Roy Disney

When your firm was first founded, probably one, two or three partners (owners) made all the decisions. Somehow, as the ranks of partners grew, they all thought that they should be part of every decision. That’s why the role of the firm administrator was created and the joke that resulted was, “How many partners does it take to decide which copier to buy?”

The theory was that administrative and operational aspects of the CPA firm would be under the umbrella of the firm administrator. Still, many partners thought that they should be allowed to have an opinion and weigh-in on the decision to buy anything that cost more than $100!

That decision-making format lasted with 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 partners. Then an Executive Committee was formed of 3 or 5 partners who still thought they should be involved in daily operations.

Progressive firms decided that the Managing Partner should actually manage the firm with a chief-of-staff type person – the firm administrator or COO. Of course, owners are kept informed but their job is to take care of client relationships, mentor younger staff and bring in business.

Is it time for your firm to actually operate like a business? Is it time for your owners to “decide who will decide”?

  • He that has a choice has trouble.
  • Dutch proverb

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

Enable Your Firm To Grow

Katie“Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.” – Bruce Lee

I enjoyed attending the CPAFMA Ohio Chapter meeting last week in Columbus. Katie Tolin of CPA Growth Guides enlightened the attendees about the importance of product development, something missing from most CPA firms.

Here are some bullet points from Tolin’s remarks. I hope you find them very thought-provoking!

  • For a CPA firm to grow, they need 3 things: marketing, business development, and product management.
  • In most firms, product management is missing – you need all three.
  • Accounting is a mature profession and compliance work has hit its peak.
  • We are in a sea of sameness. Starbucks elevated the cup of coffee. How have we changed the tax return? About the only thing is e-filing, now everyone does it.
  • Technology is speeding things up and that kills billing by the hour.
  • We have mature products and a mature industry, how do we innovate? It can’t only be about new products (services), we need to innovate things we already do.
  • You must always challenge the status quo. Make it part of your culture.
  • Employees need to be empowered to please clients. You need two things, happy clients and happy employees.
  • Katie Tolin