Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

To Begin This New Year – Be Kind

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop

This week, I am celebrating completing ELEVEN years of blogging every business day on the topic of CPA firm management. Here’s an introduction I did on January 5, 2006 – my third blog post. Notice how many of the publications I recommended no longer exist.

My theme, behind all of the practical information I share, began in 2006 and will continue into 2017:  Be kind and practice civility.

From his book, Choosing Civility, Pier Massimo Forni says:

“Civility means a great deal more than just being nice to one another. It is complex and encompasses learning how to connect successfully and live well with others, developing thoughtfulness, and fostering effective self-expression and communication. Civility includes courtesy, politeness, mutual respect, fairness, good manners, as well as a matter of good health.”

  • Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
  • Mark Twain

Friday, December 16th, 2016

Client Accounting Services (CAS)

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs

Have you expanded and branded the CAS you are offering to clients? Many firms are finding this area to be a rapidly growing source of revenue.

The percentage of net client fees provided by CAS, which includes outsourced finance and accounting services and other back-office support for clients, more than doubled for firms in the largest revenue segment tracked by the 2016 National Management of an Accounting Practice Survey.

Client Accounting Services is no longer just a small firm revenue source.

Mark Koziel, the AICPA executive vice president-Firm Services, credits automation and other technologies with helping to fuel the growth of client accounting services.

I find that many firms are doing a great job of branding the service and making clients aware of the benefits of outsourcing this type of work (which they usually hate doing themselves). For businesses, including CPA firms, it’s becoming an outsourced world.

Read the full article from The Journal of Accountancy, written by Jeff Drew, senior editor.

  • The secret of joy in work is contained in one word - excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.
  • Pearl S. Buck

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

The Growing Area of Flexible Work Arrangements

Many firms have incorporated flexible work arrangements into their menu of offerings to employees. Some have been much slower to adapt.

Here’s an update from a non-profit organization called 1 Million For Work Flexibility. To keep your CPA firm competitive you need to learn all you can about the flexibility options available to talented professionals.

Here are some of the top moments of the year for flexibility listed below.

  1. New Hampshire became the second state to make it legal for workers to request work flexibility. New Hampshire has an aging workforce and demographic. State Senate Bill 416 encourages younger workers to stay in (or move to) New Hampshire and work there so they can enjoy a flexible work arrangement that allows them to care for their growing families as well as their aging parents without worrying about bosses who might fire them for asking for flex. The bill’s sponsor believes that this isn’t just good for working parents and families, but for the overall state economy. New Hampshire follows Vermont with this type of “right to request” legislation, as well as the city of San Francisco.

  1. New York City passed the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, which is said to be the first of its kind protection for freelancers. It requires written agreements for the timeline and payment of freelance work, with penalties for employer violations.

  1. More companies, industries, and occupations are now offering flexibility to their employees. These 250 companies are shining examples of work flexibility in action. This list of the top companies with the most flexible job listings since 2013 (the “FlexJobs 250”) is based on an analysis of more than 40,000 companies and their flexible job posting histories in the FlexJobs database between October 1, 2013, and October 1, 2016.

  1. The United State of Women, a summit hosted by the White House, showcased the importance of workplace policies that work for women. The inaugural event, attended by 1 Million for Work Flexibility, highlighted work flexibility and brought together thousands of people who are working to change tomorrow for women.

  1. Work flexibility conversation focused on fathers. It’s long been clear that flexibility is crucial for working mothers, but the issue is much more broad. As part of its mission to demonstrate the far-reaching value of flex, 1 Million for Work Flexibility teamed up with supporters to co-host a special Father’s Day-themed event featuring scholar, international lawyer, foreign policy analyst, and thought-leader Anne-Marie Slaughter. The event focused on how we can shift the work and family narrative to include men and women in both corners, by valuing both care and competition, home and career in a way that benefits us all.

Launched in 2013, the 1 Million for Work Flexibility movement now has more than 100 coalition members including advocacy groups, think tanks, academic institutions, and businesses, as well as thousands of individuals demonstrating the many types of flexible work that are not only leading to happier and healthier workers, but also improving our economy.

  • Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.
  • Tony Robbins

Monday, December 12th, 2016

Set Expectations For Your Clients

“The art of communication is the language of leadership.” – James Humes

In my November newsletter, I wrote an article titled, “Let Clients Know Your Expectations.”

I covered a favorite topic of mine, training your clients. I continually hear a lot of moaning and groaning about clients who are always late with their “stuff,” clients who don’t respond to requests and clients who provide their information in a shoebox or shopping bag. We all know who they are!

I even outlined some steps you can take. You can read the article here.

img_1250In response to that article, my good friend, and client, Mike Shost sent me a copy of his Year End Letter to clients and agreed that I could share it.

Shost clearly outlines “2017 filing season dates to help you personally plan for the preparation of your 2016 individual income tax return.”

Notice he states…. to help you. He is helping the client but he is also helping himself and his valuable team members.

The letter also contains a detailed listing of Important Dates for the 2017 Filing Season. How clearly are you communicating with your clients?

You can view the sample here. Thank-you so much, Mike!

  • Write to be understood. Speak to be heard. Read to grow.
  • Lawrence Clark Powell

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

Don’t Put Off Until Tomorrow….

“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” – Benjamin Franklin

I bet you have heard that quote many times.  It was one I often heard as a child.

It is my observation that many accountants have never, in their entire life, heard this quotation. Just kidding, I know they have heard it but just ignore it.

This came to mind as a read an article via HBR titled, How To Beat Procrastination.

My CPA clients and friends do a great job at making to-do lists. They are great list makers, in general. However, the easy things (like answering email) get crossed off the list and the more important, complex things go untouched – sometimes for months!

Then late October rolls around and firm partners all of a sudden get in a hurry to get BIG things done.

The article stated that the problem is our brains are actually programmed to procrastinate. We struggle with tasks that promise future upside in return for efforts we take now.

The article gives us some tips on how to make the benefits of action feel bigger and more real, such as:

  • Visualize how great it will be to get it done.
  • Pre-commit, publicly. (This works with weight loss!)
  • Confront the downside of inaction.

My advice…. take baby steps. Most of the big changes you need to make to help your firm become future ready can be broken down in smaller steps.

What’s important is to take the first step.

  • You may delay, but time will not.
  • Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Are You Cruising Or Learning?

Joey Havens writes some great stuff. I really like his recent blog post titled, “Have You Stopped Learning?”

joey-havens2_18-748750-editedHere are some tidbits:

  • Change is happening so rapidly and it creates a steep learning curve for CPAs in public practice.
  • We haven’t seen a strong sense of urgency within our profession to embrace a faster rate of learning, a bigger time commitment to learning or the need to learn new skills and competencies.
  • If we rely on our technical abilities, we will fall short of our full potential.
  • Are we cruising or learning?

Follow the link, above, and read his entire blog post. Share it with your partners. Then, start the climb up that learning curve. If not, you’ll be left behind.

  • I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.
  • Eartha Kitt

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

Great Resource – New Book – Half-Price Today Only

cover-for-promotionI work with many smaller CPA firms and sole proprietors. Sometimes they need advice and resources that are not always available to smaller firms.

That’s why I am happy to let your know that my friend, Salim Omar, CPA has written a new book that is packed with excellent advice and ideas.

It is titled: The Million Dollar CPA Firm. It covers the 7 Principles for Higher Profits, Greater Impact and More Personal Freedom

Salim is one of the leading authorities on growing CPA firms to reach new levels of profits and freedom without more work.

TODAY ONLY, (midnight Wednesday to midnight Thursday) you can get the book for 50% off.

If you are distracted by new client worries, if you are distracted by unproductive staff, if you are stressed about your current state of finances or lack of free time…then you’re caught in a trap.

This book will guide you to the breakthroughs you need to escape that trap and puts you on a path only few practitioners will ever experience.

Salim is offering his “The Million Dollar CPA Firm” book for 50% OFF Today ONLY

Click here.

  • Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.
  • Walt Whitman

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

What You Do Now Will Be Automated Soon

“Before the end of this century, 70 percent of today’s occupations will be replaced by automation.” – Kevin Kelly

The most important skill you possess is the ability to learn new skills.

Read that line again.

sheridanI read it in a recent article by Bill Sheridan, via the CPA Success Blog.

Just in case you haven’t read his article, Our jobs are dead. Time to learn new ones posted on September 7, here are some highlights:

  • Moore’s Law says that computing power doubles every 18 to 24 months.
  • That computing power has given us unimaginable technological advancements that impact every field on the planet, including accounting and finance.
  • Your current job will be automated in the not too distant future.
  • YOU don’t have to become extinct, you simply have to learn new skills.
  • You will always be a newbie because of the speed of technological advancement (the average life of a phone app is 30 days).
  • There will be exciting times ahead if you take advantage of the opportunities and learn to relearn and reinvent your career.

Great article! Again, be sure to read it all here.

  • Always in motion is the future.
  • Yoda

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

A Leader’s Mission: Create THE Culture

“Culture drives great results.” – Jack Welch

I have been stressing the culture message for years: If you don’t create, mold, re-mold and monitor your firm culture, it will form anyway and might not be something you had in mind. It might even turn out to be rather ugly!

I was pleased to read, last week, as I followed the Boomer Technology Summit via Twitter that speaker Steven Anderson addressed the topic of culture stressing, “Every organization, whether it’s your firm, your client’s company, or even your family, has a culture, by design or by default.”

Dan Hood of Accounting Today was there in person and wrote a great recap of Anderson’s presentation. It cover’s Anderson’s “natural laws” for creating a place where people will want to work.

Read all about the three “Laws” in Dan’s article here.

On my blog page, I searched for “culture” and found many additional readings you can access if you want to really WORK on your culture. You can access the search here. Do more reading, research, and soul-searching. Then talk with your partners and decide what you want your firm culture to feel like. Next step is to get busy creating it.

 

  • When you lavish praise on people they flourish. Criticize, and they shrivel up.
  • Richard Branson

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

You Don’t Have Any Whiners, Do You?

During my presentations, I often ask a rhetorical question, “You don’t have any whiners at your firm, do you?” What I receive is usually a lot of snickers and sometimes outright laughter.

Yes, most of you have them, hopefully not many. The old adage, misery loves company, often applies to accounting firm teams. Dan Rockwell (@LeadershipFreak) addressed the four hidden agendas concealed in complaints in a recent blog post. Here are the four:

  1. “You should have ….” You caused the problem because you dropped the ball.
  2. “What are you going to do about this?” Whiners want – no expect – you to make it better.
  3. “I’m not happy.” Chronic complainers don’t own the real issue. They want something for themselves.
  4. “I want to look good while I talk bad.” Complainers use compassion as camouflage. They’re complaining because they “care”.

Follow this link to read Dan’s entire blog post – he tells you more than the four hidden agendas, he gives you solutions. You should follow @leadershipfreak on Twitter. I love the picture and quotation he featured on this blog post. Hopefully, you are not one of the complainers in your office!

chronic-complainers-want-to-look-caring-and-innocent-while-talking-mean-and-ugly

  • Anyone can start something new. It takes real leaders to stop something old.
  • Dan Rockwell